Years before any would ever hear of COVID-19, another sort of healthcare crisis was brewing in Missouri and across the country: a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals. Nurses and nursing professionals, in particular, are in high demand. In fact, about 13% of nursing vacancies in Missouri go unfilled in a typical year.
Combining the already-existent staffing shortage with the pandemic and it’s not hard to see how demand for trained nursing professionals has surged in Missouri and across the country. This is a big reason why many nursing students and professionals are considering seeking a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP.
We wanted to understand how attractive Missouri would be for these professionals, so we analyzed federal data on a selection of jobs that are commonly held by those with DNP degrees. The jobs we chose were nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor, and we analyzed wage and employment levels as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the state and cities.
Four of the six DNP jobs we analyzed boast six-figure wages in Missouri, with nurse anesthetist wages leading the way. In every state nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid DNP professionals, according to the BLS data. Registered nurses are the lowest-paid DNP worker in Missouri. The state ranks No. 10 for average nurse midwife salaries, but the state’s salary rates tend to be below the national average for most other DNP jobs.
Average annual Missouri salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$73,300.00|
Jobs for registered nurses are by far the most common, and that holds true in every state, with RN jobs being exponentially more common than the next-closest position, which usually is nurse administrator. The same is true in Missouri, where the employment rate for RNs is about 10 times higher than for nurse administrators. Nurse midwife jobs will be the most difficult to come by in Missouri, but this is generally the case across the country as well.
Missouri employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.376|
In most of the largest cities that are entirely or partially in Missouri, the average wage across the six jobs is more than $100,000 — or very close to that figure. DNP wages are highest in Columbia, which is home to the main campus of the University of Missouri, with St. Louis and Kansas City, the state’s two biggest cities, also coming in with average wages in the 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
The most obvious potential career path for someone with a DNP is becoming a nurse practitioner. After all, the job is mentioned in the name of the degree. Across the U.S., these professionals are authorized to perform many of the same functions as doctors, which makes them vitally important to making medicine more efficient. While Missouri does have among the most restrictive set of rules for NPs, the state remains popular for these professionals. Of the cities and metro areas for which data was available, most places offer six-figure wages for NPs, and those that don’t are near that level. St. Joseph’s average wage is the highest in Missouri, followed by the Fayetteville, Arkansas metro area, which includes portions of Missouri.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
NPs in the Kansas City area will have the easiest time finding employment, followed closely by St. Joseph and Springfield. These jobs will be most difficult to come by in Jefferson City, the state’s capital city.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Most RN jobs don’t require candidates to hold a DNP degree, but many of those who complete DNP programs will secure jobs as RNs. It’s important to note, though, that a DNP-holder in an RN position will certainly make more money than the averages listed below. Most cities in Missouri with available data have relatively low RN wages, with only three cities having average salaries that are higher than the state’s average. RN pay is highest in Columbia and lowest in Joplin.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
Across the country, RN employment levels are by far the highest of the six DNP jobs on our list. The Cape Girardeau area, which includes portions of Illinois, has the highest employment level in Missouri, though Columbia is close behind.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Many students who complete a DNP degree will go on to jobs where they work directly with patients. But for many advanced and senior nurses, they’d prefer jobs that are administrative in nature, and medical management roles are quite popular among DNP graduates. It’s not tough to see why, as these jobs tend to have high wages, with nurse administrators in the Cape Girardeau area having by far the highest average among Missouri cities with available data.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
After RN jobs, nurse administrator employment is usually the highest, and this holds true in Missouri and most cities in the state as well. Nurse administrators in Columbia will have a much easier time finding work than those in Jefferson City.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Education of nursing professionals will be a crucial part of attacking the staffing shortage in Missouri and the rest of the country. Postsecondary nursing instructors usually need a doctoral degree, such as a DNP, though some will hold a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree. It’s also common for DNP graduates to take nursing professor jobs on the side. The bad news for these professionals is that they tend to be on the lower end of the pay scale. But they can expect to see the highest salary potential in the Kansas City metro area, which includes areas of Missouri and Kansas.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment levels are generally very low across the country, and the same is true throughout Missouri, though three of the four cities with available data have employment rates for instructors that exceed the state’s overall level. Employment for nursing instructors is highest in Springfield, which is home to Missouri State University, the second-largest public university in the state.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
As we’ve mentioned, nurse anesthetist salaries are typically the flashiest among the six jobs we analyzed, and this is true in Missouri as well. In fact, in the Columbia area, these professionals can expect to earn wages that near $200,000.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
Of the three cities with available data, nurse anesthetist employment is by far the highest in Columbia, with the level in St. Louis dropping below the overall state rate.
Nurse anesthetist employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Nurse midwifery is an increasingly popular area of specialty in DNP programs, and though limited data is available, these jobs do tend to be high-paying. It’s a small sample size, but wages in the Kansas City area are higher on average than in St. Louis, but neither city has higher wages than the state’s overall average.
Average annual nurse midwife wage by city/metro area
Data for only two cities was available, and they had nearly identical employment levels for nurse midwives, with both Kansas City and St. Louis having far higher rates than the state overall.
Nurse midwife employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Only time will tell the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s healthcare system, but given the state of staffing even before COVID-19, it’s clear Missouri and the rest of the country need to do more to attract qualified professionals, such as those with DNP degrees. Fortunately for these individuals, salaries tend to be high across the state.
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 the agency released in April 2020.