Since way before the coronavirus pandemic introduced us to new terms like “social distancing” and “flatten the curve,” a different sort of healthcare emergency was looming — a widespread shortage of healthcare workers, particularly nurses.
The country as a whole has long been experiencing a decline in nurse staffing due to an aging population and retirements of current professionals, and states like Kentucky have been finding ways to combat the shortages.
We wanted to understand how welcoming Kentucky is for one particular brand of nursing professional — those with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This advanced degree can serve as the educational foundation of many different nursing jobs.
Average Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP Salaries in Kentucky
To create our analysis of the state of employment of DNP graduates in Kentucky, we examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on six jobs that are common for DNP graduates. The jobs we studied were nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor.
Two of the six DNP jobs we analyzed boast six-figure salaries in Kentucky, while two more are near that level. Nurse anesthetists have the highest average wage in Kentucky, and this is the case in every other state as well. Registered nurses have the lowest average wage of the six DNP jobs we analyzed, though they still make far more than the average worker in the commonwealth, who earns just over $44,000. Also, it’s important to note that because most RN jobs don’t require DNP degrees, for professionals who do have that degree, a possible RN job will certainly include above-average pay.
How Much Does a DNP Make in Kentucky?
The average salary ranges from $63,750 to $167,400 in Kentucky.
Average annual Kentucky salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$72,240.00|
In Kentucky, jobs for registered nurses are by far the most common, and this is the case in every other state as well. The next most common DNP job in Kentucky is nurse administrator, which is about eight times less common than RN employment. The employment rate for nurse anesthetists in Kentucky was not available, and nurse midwives will have the toughest time of the five others to find work.
Kentucky employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.421|
Average wages across the six DNP jobs peak in the Lexington-Fayette area, though the Louisville metro area, which includes parts of Indiana, was close behind. Most of the top five metro areas that are entirely or partially in Kentucky have average wages that are at or near six figures.
Average salary by city, top 5
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
Most students who complete DNP degrees will become nurse practitioners. This should come as no shock, since the degree title is referenced in the name of the job. NPs are advanced nurses who are authorized to perform many of the same tasks as physicians, though rules vary by state. Kentucky’s practice environment is relatively restrictive, though less so than its Southern neighbors. Most of the cities and metro areas in Kentucky with available data offer average NP wages that exceed $100,000, and even last-place Lexington is nearly at that level. Wages are highest in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area, followed closely by the Evansville, Indiana metro area, which includes parts of Kentucky.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
NPs in Evansville will have the easiest time finding jobs, while those in the Louisville area will have the most difficulty based on the rate of employment of NPs per 1,000 jobs.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
It’s not typical for registered nurses to complete a DNP degree, but many people who graduate from DNP programs nonetheless will take jobs as registered nurses. As mentioned, though, a DNP graduate who takes an RN job will certainly be able to command a higher wage than the averages listed below. That said, RN wages are at their highest in Owensboro and lowest in Bowling Green.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
RN jobs are by far the most plentiful of the six DNP jobs we analyzed, and this holds true across the commonwealth. Employment rates for RNs are highest in Owensboro, though Evansville and Lexington aren’t too far behind. Rates are lowest in the Clarksville, Tennessee area, which includes parts of Kentucky.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Another very popular educational path for prospective DNP students is to pursue courses on medical and healthcare leadership. This can help advanced nurses build their skills and educational bona fides necessary to win medical management jobs, such as nurse administrator. These positions tend to have wide-ranging responsibilities, and they typically come with a major bump in pay. In fact, the majority of Kentucky cities with available data have average nurse administrator salaries near or over $100,000, with Lexington’s average topping the list.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
Outside of RN jobs, nurse administrator employment rates tend to be the highest of the six DNP jobs we studied, and this holds true in Kentucky as well as most other states. Nurse administrator jobs are most common in Bowling Green, with Clarksville and Lexington both having higher rates than Kentucky overall.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Bridging the gap in demand for nurses and supply of professionals will mean training more nurses. That’s where postsecondary nursing instructors come in, and it’s very common for DNP graduates to supplement their income through teaching, while others may decide to make the shift to full-time nursing faculty. While limited data was available for Kentucky cities, the average nursing instructor wage in Lexington is a touch higher than in the Louisville area.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Employment rates for postsecondary nursing instructors are about twice as high in the Louisville area than in Lexington, though data wasn’t available for any other cities in the commonwealth.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Across the U.S. and in Kentucky, nurse anesthetists boast the highest average wages of the six DNP jobs in our analysis, and those who find work in the Lexington area can expect to earn considerably higher wages than in Louisville. Employment rates for this job were not available for any cities in the commonwealth.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
Another very popular specialty area in DNP programs is midwifery, which is the practice of assisting families through pregnancy, labor and after birth. No city-level data was available for Kentucky nurse midwives.
Only time will tell the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the medical system, particularly how difficult it is for hospitals and doctors offices to find qualified nursing professionals. But, as the data seems to show, Kentucky has a distance to go to making the commonwealth more attractive for DNP graduates and students.
Our analysis of BLS data covered a total of six 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.