Long before the COVID-19 pandemic brought us a spring and summer of quarantine and introduced new household terms like “social distancing,” another type of healthcare crisis was ongoing across the U.S. and in Alabama — a shortage of nurses and nursing professionals.
In fact, Alabama ranked near the bottom in the nation in a recent study of care providers including doctors and nurses. We wanted to understand the state of employment for one subset of nursing professionals, those who have completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This advanced nursing degree can open up a host of new career opportunities that can have a positive impact on the entire medical system.
SEE ALSO: Alabama DNP Programs with Online Options
Average Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP Salaries in Alabama
To create our analysis, we studied data in Alabama on salary and employment levels for five jobs that are often held by DNP graduates — nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator and postsecondary nursing instructor. The data we used was published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2020.
Nurse anesthetists are by far the highest-paid of the five DNP professionals whose job data we analyzed, though two other jobs are close to having six-figure salary averages in Alabama. Registered nurses have the lowest average, though it’s worth noting that DNP graduates who hold these jobs will have much higher salaries than the average for the job overall. Also, while they’re the lowest on this list, RNs can expect to make quite a bit more than the average worker in the state, who earns about $45,000 per year.
How Much Does a DNP Make in Alabama?
The average salary ranges from $60,230 to $157,430 in Alabama.
Average annual Alabama salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$71,020.00|
In every state, including Alabama, RN positions are the most common, and usually by a huge margin. In Alabama, the No. 2 job by employment rate is nurse practitioner, with a rate that’s a fraction of the employment rate for RNs. Employment rate data for nurse administrators was not available for the state as a whole, while nurse anesthetists and postsecondary nursing instructors have similar employment rates.
Alabama employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.626|
Most major cities that are entirely or partially in Alabama have five-job wage averages that exceed $100,000, while Huntsville’s average is nearly at that level. The average DNP wage is highest in Columbus, Georgia, which includes portions of Alabama as well.
Average salary by city, top 5
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
It’s reasonable, though incorrect, to assume that someone who completes a DNP will go on to become a nurse practitioner. After all, the degree is mentioned right there in the job title. Nurse practitioners hold a special place in the medical system because by virtue of their DNP degree, they have the educational background necessary to earn licensure to perform many of the same functions as doctors, though rules vary across the country. Alabama’s practice environment for NPs is somewhat restrictive, though many of the state’s neighbors have more restrictive rules in place for NPs. Salaries for nurse practitioners are highest in the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville metro area, with Columbus a distant second.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area, top 10
NPs will be most likely to find lots of job opportunities in the Florence-Muscle Shoals area, with Dothan taking second place. Several other cities in the top 10 have employment rates for NPs that exceed the state’s overall rate, including Huntsville, Birmingham-Hoover and Gadsden.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
While it’s true that most RN positions do not list a DNP degree as a requirement for the job, many people who complete these programs will decide to take RN jobs after they earn their degrees. So, the average salaries listed below could well be considered the low end of the range for DNP graduates. The highest average RN salary is in Montgomery, with Birmingham and Columbus coming in second and third, respectively.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area, top 10
Registered nurse jobs are by far the most common of the five DNP jobs we analyzed, and this holds true across Alabama as well as the rest of the U.S. Employment rates are highest in Dothan, though Gadsden is a close second.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
Many people who complete DNP programs do so because they want to earn licensure to practice advanced nursing or to work in a particular nursing specialty. But many people pursue DNP education so they can move their way up into healthcare leadership positions, such as nurse administrator. These jobs tend to have big responsibilities, and average salaries are bigger as well. In fact, in Dothan, which leads the state, the average salary for nurse administrators is over $100,000, and most other Alabama cities in the top 10 are near that level.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area, top 10
Overall for the state of Alabama, nurse administrator employment levels were not available, but several cities in the state have employment rates for nurse administrators that are in keeping with most other states. Rates are highest in Dothan, with Gadsden and Florence not far behind.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
Tackling the shortage of trained nurses means, well, training more nurses. That means attracting postsecondary nursing instructors, and teaching at advanced levels is a common career option or sideline for DNP graduates. While limited geographic data was available, Mobile has the higher average salary of the two cities listed.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Employment rates tend to be on the lower end of the scale, though Mobile’s employment rate for postsecondary nursing instructors ranks No. 18 among the nearly 400 cities and metro areas with available data.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
In Alabama, as in the rest of the U.S., nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid of the five DNP professionals whose metrics we analyzed. Average salaries for these roles are highest in Columbus, Georgia, which includes portions of Alabama. No other city in Alabama is close, and Columbus ranks No. 3 compared to all cities with available data in the U.S.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
Employment rates for nurse anesthetists tend to be on the lower end of the spectrum, but Alabama has two cities that are in the top 10 nationally. Huntsville has the highest employment rate in the state, ranking No. 6 nationally, while Dothan is second in Alabama and eighth in the U.S.
Nurse anesthetist employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
We may not know for years what the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on the state of healthcare employment in Alabama and the U.S. But any shortages will only be impacted by making Alabama an attractive place for DNP students and graduates, and the available data would seem to indicate the state has a ways to go.
Our analysis of BLS data included five jobs that are commonly available with a DNP degree, though that’s not meant as a complete listing of all possible jobs. We used the May 2019 data, which was released in April 2020.