Calif RNs - think very carefully if you really want to become an NP

Specialties NP

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Specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health NP (PMHNP).

If you are an RN in Calif thinking about becoming an NP, please carefully research and think about this.  Be familiar with the typical NP compensation.  Becoming an NP is not necessarily the way to make more money!  

RNs in Calif are paid the highest in the country.  In addition, CA has safe staffing laws, providing a better work environment.

I am a PMHNP in Calif, responsible for recruiting for our practice.  Today, I had an interview with a new grad PMHNP with several years of RN experience.  She told me she is currently working as an RN in the Bay Area, as a perm employee (not 1099), and makes $110 per hour with great benefits.  She wanted $120 per hour as a new grad PMHNP (that is not going to happen).  

If you are an RN in Calif making $150 to $200K per year or more, there is no point to becoming an NP unless you truly want to be a provider.  And you are going to take a pay cut as a new grad NP because you don't have NP experience.  Being an RN is very different than being a provider.

Calif pays the highest of all states for NPs, but even for PMHNPs, the typical pay range is $150K to $180K per year.  Permanent jobs that pay more than that are rare.  For someone who wants to work on a 1099, higher pay is possible, but there would be no benefits.

NP school is not cheap, so please do not incur those expenses without doing your due diligence and knowing what you are getting into.

 

Very true. I certainly hope folks aren't just doing this for the perceived increased pay. I have enjoyed following you through the years @fullglass and I'd love to hear from you where you are recruiting for. Please DM me if you are willing. Thank you! 

Specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health NP (PMHNP).

Just a quick update:  I was so shocked that the candidate said they are making $110 per hour as an RN that is a permanent employee, I did some research and it doesn't add up.

$110 per hour x 2,000 hours = OVER $220,000 per year! ($228,800 to be exact)

(For a quick and dirty estimate of annual pay, multiply pay per hour by 2,000.  Exact number of hours in a year is 2,080)

This person is working for a County.  Government pay scales are publicly posted, so I went to that County's payscale.  The maximum pay for an RN is $170,000 per year.  That is still great money, but $50K less than they claimed to be making.

Not sure about outpatient, but for what it's worth my classmate (also a new grad acute care PNP) just got offered an inpatient PICU position in CA starting at $200,000, plus $20,000 in signing/relocation bonuses.

Probably not the norm in CA (even for inpatient jobs), but in this job market and depending on your specialty, it might be possible.

FullGlass said:

Just a quick update:  I was so shocked that the candidate said they are making $110 per hour as an RN that is a permanent employee, I did some research and it doesn't add up.

$110 per hour x 2,000 hours = OVER $220,000 per year! ($228,800 to be exact)

(For a quick and dirty estimate of annual pay, multiply pay per hour by 2,000.  Exact number of hours in a year is 2,080)

This person is working for a County.  Government pay scales are publicly posted, so I went to that County's payscale.  The maximum pay for an RN is $170,000 per year.  That is still great money, but $50K less than they claimed to be making.

I could see inpatient RNs in CA possibly making that much if they were getting shift diffs and picking up a boatload of overtime with incentive differentials (I know my east coast hospital mid-pandemic was giving up to $115/hr on top of your base salary + shift diffs for overtime night/weekend shifts when they were super desperate). Doesn't sound likely with a county job, though.

I wonder if she was getting any bonuses and including those in her total? If she's salaried, she might have taken her gross annual income and divided it by 2,000 to get her 'hourly pay.' Still sounds shady, though.

Specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health NP (PMHNP).
adventure_rn said:

I wonder if she was getting any bonuses and including those in her total? If she's salaried, she might have taken her gross annual income and divided it by 2,000 to get her 'hourly pay.' Still sounds shady, though.

If I was making $228,800 per year as a perm employee with great benefits, I'd hang on to that job for dear life!  That is more than some MDs make.  If RNs can make that kind of money, then why on earth become an NP?  An RN requires only a bachelor's degree, while an NP requires another 2-3 years of education on top of that, and very few NPs make even $200K per year, even in CA.

I did a little more digging on that County's pay scale and they do have Per Diem RNs that can make up to $105 per hour.  But I don't think a Per Diem RN is permanent?  I'm not sure.  Counties also hire NPs, so it would make more sense to get an NP job with the County.  CA counties are part of the CALPERS retirement system, which is a great pension plan.  An RN already working for the county would have an advantage when applying for NP jobs and it would make sense to want to keep the retirement benefits.  The county and state governments in CA tend to have excellent benefits overall.

If this is the kind of money RNs make, I should not have bothered to become an NP.  

Specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health NP (PMHNP).
adventure_rn said:

Not sure about outpatient, but for what it's worth my classmate (also a new grad acute care PNP) just got offered an inpatient PICU position in CA starting at $200,000, plus $20,000 in signing/relocation bonuses.

Probably not the norm in CA (even for inpatient jobs), but in this job market and depending on your specialty, it might be possible.

In CA, RNs have a union.  That is rare, and is also why CA RNs make more money. 

There are location differences - jobs in the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley will pay more due to the higher cost of living there.  

I believe Kaiser in the Bay Area had contracts with their RNs to make up to $200K per year, and that contract also covered the Sacramento area.  That is great money and Kaiser also has excellent benefits.

In general, government jobs pay less than private sector jobs.  What offsets that is in CA, state, county, and local employees get the CALPERS retirement, which is excellent, and you only have to work 5 years to qualify for some benefit.  They also get excellent medical benefits.  In addition, they get a lot of PTO - 6 weeks.  There is also great job security.

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
FullGlass said:

Just a quick update:  I was so shocked that the candidate said they are making $110 per hour as an RN that is a permanent employee, I did some research and it doesn't add up.

$110 per hour x 2,000 hours = OVER $220,000 per year! ($228,800 to be exact)

(For a quick and dirty estimate of annual pay, multiply pay per hour by 2,000.  Exact number of hours in a year is 2,080)

This person is working for a County.  Government pay scales are publicly posted, so I went to that County's payscale.  The maximum pay for an RN is $170,000 per year.  That is still great money, but $50K less than they claimed to be making.

It must be shocking for RNs working elsewhere in the States, but the $110.00 per hour in the Bay Area is true. My sister works there. She said she's almost embarrassed to say how much she makes!

Specializes in CEN, Firefighter/Paramedic.
FullGlass said:

If RNs can make that kind of money, then why on earth become an NP? 

You said it yourself, some of us want to be in the provider role. 

It's not about the money for me.

 

Specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health NP (PMHNP).
FiremedicMike said:

You said it yourself, some of us want to be in the provider role. 

It's not about the money for me.

 

You are exactly the type of person that SHOULD become an NP!  We need more people like you!

Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of RNs that don't think through whether or not they should be an NP.

Specializes in ACNP-BC, Adult Critical Care, Cardiology.

I work as an in-pt NP in San Francisco. I also have a lot of RN and NP years under my belt. The place I work for is under a CNA union contract for all nursing positions including advanced practice and takes into account the entire nursing career years in determining pay and so I feel like I am lucky enough to make more than majority of the bedside RN's. It is however true that many bedside RN's with seniority who are further up in the career ladder make more than NP's who do not have a lot of years in nursing. It really boils down to the role...none of the practicing NP's I talk to would ever consider working as bedside RN's. It is just more satisfying to be in the provider role.

There are those who are trained as NP's but still work as bedside RN's and some of them have asked us if there is ever a chance they can work as NP's one day. I feel like the longer they delay looking for that NP position, the farthest they are from ever landing that NP role. Some are just more comfortable in the RN role and are afraid of the increased liability. It's a matter of choice really. For what it's worth $250,000 a year in Bay Area is not a lot of money considering an average house will cost you $2 million. But I would say that NP's married to another NP, CRNA, physician, or tech employee are doing quite well financially.

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