Questions for Bay Area Family Nurse Practitioner


I am a Registered Nurse planning to relocate to the Bay area soon. I am seriously considering going for Family Nurse Practitioner program, but skeptical as i have some questions that need answers before i can make the next career move. I know how hard it is for newly licensed Registered Nurses to secure jobs in the Bay area and that will be the last thing i want to go through after spending about $100k for graduate education. I would appreciate if prior or current FNP's in the Bay area can help clear the air please.

How is the job market for new grad FNP's in the Bay area. Will i struggle like new RN's to land an FNP position as a new graduate?

What is the salary range of FNP'S in that area(I know this is more personal and i appreciate whatever information i can get)

Is it worth it to work as an FNP in the Bay area as opposed working as an RN. From what i have read, it seems the pay is not much of a difference.

Thanks for your responses.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

9 Articles; 4,338 Posts

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 31 years experience.

I live and work in SF Bay Area but I'm an ACNP.

The area is known for having the highest RN salaries in the US. This is largely credited to the strong nursing union presence in the area that lobbied tirelessly to make sure RN's can continue to live and work here because they are paid proportionately in an area known for high cost of living. The unions have also made it possible for California to have mandatory nurse-patient staffing ratios in acute care hospitals.

NP's work in a variety of institutions and settings. Those who work in hospitals with a union (and are part of the union) have the advantage of having their salary grades built in to the union contracts. You could (in many instances) make more than RN's in that situation. However, union contracts for RN (and NP) salaries typically ignore any qualifications other than longevity.

It doesn't matter what type of nursing experience you bring to the table because your salary grade depends on the amount of total nursing years you've worked anywhere. For instance, a new grad NP with only 2 years of nursing experience could possibly earn less than an RN who has 20 years of nursing at the bedside. Consequently, some people grumble that a "crappy nurse" with years of experience wins.

Private practice NP's do not have the benefit of collective bargaining. Because NP's are not independent, your salary is dictated by demand and what the market (physician business owners who typically hire) are willing to pay. You may see higher salaries or lower salaries in this situation.

If I were you, I would wait and see how you like it here before making the plunge to NP. You may actually like bedside nursing here. Most nurses from out of state are surprised at how much employment protection and accommodations for easing ones workload exist in this area for nurses. I happen to love the NP role and because I also have 20+ years of nursing experience, I'm doing well working in a hospital that is unionized as an ACNP. I also wonder why you would pay 100K for graduate education. That seems steep especially with public university options in the area.