For years now, Oklahoma has been on the edge of a major healthcare crisis. No, not COVID-19. Nearly 2 in 5 nurses in the state are age 50 or older, and that combined with an increasingly aged population means that the state is on the edge of having a massive shortage of nursing professionals.
And the pandemic can’t be helping that situation. The state clearly needs to attract talented nursing students and professionals, such as those with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. These are advanced, specialized nursing professionals who can have a huge positive impact on the entire healthcare system.
To understand where the state stands when it comes to key metrics related to DNP jobs, we analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for five jobs commonly held by those with DNP degrees. The jobs on our list were nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator and postsecondary nursing instructor. To be clear, this list is not meant as the be-all, end-all of DNP employment but rather serves as a good analog to DNP employment.
Two of the five DNP jobs we studied have average annual salaries that exceed $100,000 in Oklahoma, while a third is close. Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid DNP professionals in Oklahoma, and this is true in every other state as well. Postsecondary nursing instructors have the lowest average yearly salary in Oklahoma, but they still can expect to make more than the average worker in the state, who earns about $45,000 per year.
Average annual Oklahoma salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$58,440.00|
Employment rates are highest for registered nurses, both in Oklahoma and in every other state. Nurse administrators are second in Oklahoma, which is also the case in many other states. The gulf between RNs and nurse administrators is very wide, with RN positions being several times more common than nurse administrator jobs. Nurse anesthetists and postsecondary nursing instructors have the lowest employment rates in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.321|
Zooming into the municipal level, data for a handful of cities and metro areas in the state was also available from the BLS. The average annual salary across all five jobs is highest in Tulsa, though Oklahoma City isn’t far behind. And all four cities with available data have average DNP wages that are well above the average pay rate for all workers in the state.
Average salary by city
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
The most obvious career path for a DNP grad is to become a nurse practitioner. There shouldn’t be any surprise about why that’s the case, given that the degree is right there in the job title. Nurse practitioners (NPs) can work in a range of specialty areas, and they are empowered to perform some of the same functions as doctors, though the rules vary by state. Oklahoma’s practice environment is one of the most restrictive, but that’s largely in keeping with laws throughout the South. Available city data tells us that Oklahoma City and Tulsa have nearly identical average salary rates for NPs but Lawton isn’t far behind, and all three communities with available data are home to average NP wages that exceed $100,000.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
Employment rates for NPs are highest in Oklahoma City, though Lawton is a close second. Tulsa is a distant third with a rate that’s quite a bit below the overall state employment rate for nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
While registered nurse positions generally don’t include prerequisites that candidates have DNP degrees, many people who complete these degrees will go on to seek RN employment. As we’ve mentioned, though, DNP-holding registered nurses will command much higher salaries than the averages listed below. Of the four cities with available data, Oklahoma City’s average wage is the highest and Lawton’s is the lowest.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
RN jobs are the most common of the five jobs we studied, by a huge margin, and employment levels for RNs in Oklahoma are highest in Enid and lowest in Tulsa, though all four cities have rates that exceed the state’s overall registered nurse employment rate.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Getting a chance to gain needed training to provide advanced patient care is the motivating factor for seeking DNP education for many people, but there are others who decide to begin DNP education so they can seek healthcare leadership employment. Such roles, including nurse administrator, tend to be heavy on organizational responsibilities, and the typical pay rises along with the job. Nurse administrators in Enid earn an average salary of just over $100,000, while those in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa make nearly that amount.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
After RNs, nurse administrator employment levels tend to be the highest, and this is true in Oklahoma as well. The highest employment rate for nurse administrators is in Oklahoma City, and the city also ranks No. 13 nationally compared to the nearly 400 cities with available data.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Closing the nursing staff shortage will mean educating new generations of nursing professionals, particularly at advanced levels. This means postsecondary nursing instructors should be in high demand, and academia is attractive for many people with DNP degrees. Geographic data was limited, but the average salary for nursing instructors in Tulsa is considerably higher than the level in Oklahoma City.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Neither of the two cities with available data on nursing instructor employment levels have rates higher than Oklahoma overall, though Oklahoma City’s rate is quite a bit higher than that of Tulsa.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
As mentioned, nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid among the five DNP professionals whose employment data we examined. Limited geographic information was available for communities in Oklahoma, but Oklahoma City’s average salary was higher than that of Tulsa and just a touch higher than the state’s overall average.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
As the population in Oklahoma continues to expand and get older and professional nursing workers decide to call it a career, the need for highly skilled, advanced nurses will only continue to grow.
Our analysis of BLS data covered a total of five jobs that are commonly available with a DNP degree, though that’s not meant as a complete listing every job a DNP graduate could potentially hold. We used the May 2019 data that was released in April 2020.