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What Does an Acute Care Nurse Earn?

Career News August 9, 2013

Acute care nurses play an important role in the treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. These nurses work in out-patient and in-patient facilities. With in-treatment, patients stay at the hospital for at least a night, while out-patient treatment is the same day treatment or surgery that doesn’t require the patient to stay overnight.

Since it is a highly skilled job, there is a large demand for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (ACNPs). In fact, there is currently a shortage of ACNPs in the job market, which means that those who become ACNPs have great odds of having a job waiting for them upon certification. Additionally, because of the skill and education required, ACNPs are paid extremely well. According to, the average acute care nurse salary is about $87,000 annually. They also report that ACNPs earned anywhere from $69,812 to $108,726 a year in 2011.

The salaries of ACNPs are comparable to regular Nurse Practitioners (NPs). However, the highest paid ACNPs make about $2,000 to $3,000 more than the highest paid NPs. Also, the lowest paid ACNPs make about $6,000 to $7,000 more than the lowest paid Hospitalist Nurse Practitioners. Additionally, the median salary for ACNPs is slightly higher than the average of any other nurse practitioner. also reports that 86% of ACNPs are female. Although the lowest paid female nurses make roughly $2,000 more than the lowest paid males, the highest paid male ACNPs make around $110,000 a year, while their female counterparts make about $95,000. Both male and female ACNPs can do nearly everything a doctor can do including diagnosing illness and prescribing treatment. Because of this, it is not uncommon for an experienced ACNP to make $100,000 a year when bonuses are added to their base salaries.

Most ACNPs start their careers as Registered Nurses (RNs), which is a job that requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, as well as nursing certification. From there, an RN can earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and become a certified ACNP. When certified, there are several different areas in the health care industry that an ACNP can go into including acute care, critical care, intensive care, surgery, cardiology, and emergency room (ER).

Considering that the average household income in the U.S. was $49,000 in 2010, becoming an acute care nurse is a wise decision provided that you also don’t despise the work. Starting out, an acute care nurse salary will be somewhere around $70,000, which is almost 20% more than the average household income. Although an ACNPs job can be difficult at times, it can also be extremely rewarding, if you are the kind of person that enjoys helping those who are sick or injured.

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