By 2030, the state of Tennessee is expected to experience a major shortfall of nursing professionals. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that demand for nurses in Tennessee will exceed supply by almost 22%.
And this was before anybody ever heard of COVID-19. While only time will tell the impact of the coronavirus on the healthcare system of Tennessee and the rest of the country, we do know that current salary and employment rates for certain nursing professionals are far better than for others. Generally, the higher a person’s education level, the higher salary they can expect, and this is typically true for nursing professionals as well.
That’s one reason why the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree has become so popular. We wanted to understand typical salaries for these professionals in Tennessee and in various cities around the state. We studied data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for six jobs that are commonly held by DNP graduates. The jobs we chose were meant as a representative picture of advanced nursing jobs, though there are many other possible avenues for DNP employment beyond the six jobs we analyzed, which were nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor.
Average Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP Salaries in Tennessee
In Tennessee, two of the four DNP jobs on our list come with average six-figure salaries, and two more have average wage rates in excess of $90,000. The lowest-paid DNP professionals in Tennessee are registered nurses, though it’s important to note that most RN jobs don’t require such an advanced degree. That means DNP graduates who do get RN jobs or hold jobs with closely related titles will likely command salaries higher than what’s listed here. Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid DNP professionals in Tennessee, and the same is true in every other state as well.
How Much Does a DNP Make in Tennessee?
The average salary ranges from $62.570 to $157,070 in Tennessee.
Average annual Tennessee salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$75,260.00|
Across the United States and in Tennessee, RN jobs are by far the most common. In Tennessee, RN jobs are nearly seven times more common than the next-most-common DNP job in the state, nurse administrator. Nurse midwife jobs are the most difficult to come by in Tennessee.
Tennessee employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.37|
Getting down to the micro level, Memphis has the highest average salary across the six DNP jobs we studied, though Chattanooga isn’t far behind, with the Nashville metro area nipping at its heels.
Average salary by city, top 5
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree provides the educational foundation necessary for licensure as a nurse practitioner (NP), making this type of job the most obvious and commonly held by DNP graduates. NPs in Tennessee and other states are authorized to perform many of the same functions as doctors, though Tennessee is among the most restrictive states for NPs. Still, these professionals can expect to earn six-figure salaries in several cities that are entirely or partially in the state of Tennessee, with salaries reaching their highest in the Memphis metro area, which also includes portions of Arkansas and Mississippi. Of cities for which data was available, salaries for NPs in Cleveland were the lowest.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
NPs are the most likely to find employment in Johnson City, according to our analysis, with Knoxville taking the second spot. These roles are hardest to come by in Morristown, and several other cities have employment rates for NPs that are higher than the state’s rate, including Nashville, Chattanooga, Cleveland and Jackson.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
While jobs for registered nurses generally don’t require a DNP degree, that job title remains popular for many DNP graduates who may not have an interest in other roles, such as nurse practitioner. RNs tend to have low wages compared to some other DNP professionals, but they still earn higher salaries than the average resident of the state, who makes about $46,000 per year. RN salaries are highest in Memphis and Nashville and lowest in Cleveland, taking into account all cities for which data was available in Tennessee.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
RN positions are by far the most common among the six DNP jobs we analyzed, both across the United States and in Tennessee. On the city level in the state, Johnson City has the highest concentration of RN employment, followed by Jackson and Chattanooga. Employment of RNs is lowest in Cleveland.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
While many people who earn advanced nursing degrees like the DNP remain focused on patient care, one of the main draws of the degree is that it can provide a stepping stone to leadership roles within healthcare organizations. Many people who complete this degree will seek jobs as nurse administrators or healthcare managers, and salaries for these types of jobs tend to be quite high. Of the Tennessee cities for which the BLS had published data, the average nurse administrator job pays about $114,000 in Memphis, which is the highest rate in the state. On the flip side, Cleveland’s average of just under $72,000 was the lowest in the state for nurse administrators.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
Nurse administrator jobs tend to be among the most common outside of RN positions taking into account all six of the DNP occupations we analyzed. Several cities and metro areas in the state have rates of employment for nurse administrators that exceed the state’s overall rate, including Jackson, which has the state’s highest rate, Nashville and Johnson City.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Ensuring that the next generation of nursing professionals receives qualified, rigorous instruction are postsecondary nursing instructors, and teaching at high levels is a pursuit many DNP graduates will eventually consider. Salaries for this role vary quite dramatically across the country, and this holds true looking at the available data for Tennessee cities. Nursing professor salaries are highest in the Nashville metro area and lowest in Jackson, with a nearly 60% spread between the two communities.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
These roles tend to be among the most difficult to come by, both nationally and in Tennessee. The Kingsport, Virginia metro area, which includes portions of Tennessee, has the highest employment rate in the state for postsecondary nursing instructors, while the lowest rate is in Memphis.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
In Tennessee and the rest of the U.S., nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid of all six types of DNP professionals we analyzed. Their salary rates are highest on average in Jackson, where these professionals can expect to earn close to $200,000. Chattanooga’s average salary for nurse anesthetists is the lowest in Tennessee, though it’s important to note that less data was available for this job than for most others on the list.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
Even fewer cities had available data when it comes to nurse anesthetist employment rates, but Nashville’s rate was the highest among the cities for which the BLS published data. All three cities with available data have nurse anesthetist employment rates that are higher than that of the state as a whole.
Nurse anesthetist employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Many DNP programs offer an education track in midwifery, which is the practice of assisting women through pregnancy, labor and after birth. Nurse midwives in Tennessee have average salaries near $100,000, but we were unable to make geographic comparisons based on lack of available data.
Tackling the looming (and probably ongoing) shortage in nursing staff in Tennessee means that the state needs to work on attracting DNP students and professionals, and it’s clear some areas of the state are doing a better job than others.
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.