Long before the COVID-19 pandemic introduced our society to new terminology like “social distancing” and “flatten the curve,” another healthcare crisis threatened to cripple the medical system — a massive shortage of nursing professionals.
South Carolina, in particular, was projected to have one of the deepest and most critical shortages of qualified nursing professionals. While it’s not known yet what impact the pandemic will have on the already-strained South Carolina medical system, there’s no doubt that many new nursing professionals of all types are needed in the state.
One very popular nursing degree should be in high demand in South Carolina and across the country, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This degree can help open up a range of career options, including some that are very well-paying.
We wanted to understand just how well-paying DNP jobs are in South Carolina and how prevalent they are, so we analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on six jobs that are commonly held by those with a DNP: nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor
Three of the six DNP jobs we studied have average annual salaries in South Carolina that are higher than $100,000, and a fourth job is near that level. Nurse anesthetists have the highest average annual salary level of the DNP jobs we analyzed, and this is the case in South Carolina as well as every other state. Registered nurses are the lowest-paid of the occupations we examined, though it’s important to note that RNs who have DNP educations will be able to command far higher than the average salary listed below.
Average annual South Carolina salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$74,020.00|
Jobs for RNs are by far the most common across the U.S. and in South Carolina. In fact, in South Carolina, RN employment is about nine times higher than employment for the next highest job, which is nurse administrator. Nurse midwife jobs will be the hardest to come by in South Carolina, which is in keeping with most other states.
South Carolina employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.431|
Most major cities that are entirely or partially in South Carolina are home to average salaries across the six DNP jobs of more than $100,000, with the Augusta, Georgia area, which includes portions of South Carolina, leading the way.
Average salary by city, top 5
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||$110,460.00|
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
It’s understandable to assume that someone who completes a DNP will go on to become a nurse practitioner. After all, the degree is right there in the job title. And nurse practitioners hold a special place in the medical system, as they’re empowered to perform some of the same functions as a physician, though rules vary across the country. South Carolina’s practice environment is among the most restrictive, but the state remains attractive for NPs thanks to relatively high wages. NPs in Sumter have the best chance of earning a high wage, with an average salary of more than $140,000, while several other cities, some of which span multiple states, having six-figure wages.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||$94,270.00|
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||$88,470.00|
NPs in the Florence area will have the best chance of finding work, with a rate of employment per 1,000 jobs that’s considerably higher than the next-highest city, Sumter. Most other cities with available data have employment rates for NPs that exceed the state rate, with the exception of Columbia, Hilton Head and the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin area.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||1.061|
While it’s not typical for registered nurse positions to require DNP education, many graduates will choose to take RN jobs, so they can remain in close contact with their patients. While salaries for RNs tend to be on the lower end of the scale, those who have a DNP can expect to see a major boost to their paychecks. The average salary for RNs, which includes workers of all educational levels, is highest in Hilton Head, followed closely by Augusta.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||$69,620.00|
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||$62,750.00|
RN jobs are the most common of the six DNP roles we analyzed, and their employment rates are highest in the Florence area, though Augusta isn’t far behind, and the Charleston-North Charleston area isn’t far behind that.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||15.507|
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||15.5|
Not all DNP graduates will go on to jobs where they work directly with patients. For some, leadership roles are calling, and healthcare management occupations, such as nurse administrator, are quite popular among DNP graduates. The added responsibilities of executive employment come with a boost in salary, with all South Carolina cities for which data was published boasting average wages that are near or above $100,000. Charleston has the highest average wage, about $116,000, while Florence has the lowest.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||$109,790.00|
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||$99,170.00|
Nurse administrator employment rates are typically the second-highest outside of RN positions, and this tends to be true across South Carolina. The nurse administrator employment rate in Florence is by far the highest in the state, and the city ranks No. 7 among the 300-plus cities and metro areas with available data in the U.S.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
|Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort||2.494|
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||2.439|
Reducing the strain on the medical system will mean producing more advanced nurses, and postsecondary nursing instructors are critical in that pursuit. For many DNP graduates, teaching at this level is an attractive career change or side job, and instructors will find their highest wage average in Columbia, the state’s capital city.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Employment rates for postsecondary nursing instructors are relatively low compared to other DNP jobs, and while limited data was available for cities in South Carolina, the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin area has the highest rate of these jobs.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
As we’ve mentioned, nurse anesthetists are by far the highest-paid DNP professionals among the six we studied, with average wages well over $100,000. The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina metro area, which includes portions of South Carolina, has the highest average wage, exceeding $100,000.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
|Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach||$185,650.00|
Limited employment rate data was available, but the Charleston-North Charleston area had the highest rate, followed by the Charlotte metro area, while Columbia and Greenville were far behind.
Nurse anesthetist employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Many DNP programs offer a specialty program in midwifery, which is the practice of assisting women through pregnancy, labor and after birth. Limited data was available on salaries for cities in South Carolina and surrounding states. The Charlotte metro area, which includes portions of South Carolina, has an average annual nurse midwife wage of $108,790.
Turning the tide in the right direction for healthcare employment means bringing in new voices and recruiting highly trained and skilled nursing professionals, such as DNP graduates. While South Carolina’s wage and employment situation for DNP professionals isn’t the most eye-popping, the state should remain attractive for these workers.
Our analysis of BLS data included 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 by the agency in April 2020.