Every year, The Clinical Advisor surveys nurse practitioners and physician assistants to help you get the answers you need to pressing questions such as:

  • Am I being paid what I’m worth?
  • Is now a good time for a raise?
  • Should I consider relocating to another region to earn a higher salary?
  • How does my practice area stack up against others in terms of pay?

But perhaps no question has drawn more scrutiny – and is of more consequence – than how big is the gender wage gap?

The 2018 Salary Survey reveals that female NPs and PAs make less than 87 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. In both specialties, women earn more than $17,000 less per year than men.

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The results of our study are consistent with other recent findings. A 2017 study published in the American Academy of Physician Assistants found that female PAs make 89 cents for every dollar earned by a male PA.1 Also in 2017, a study published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners discovered that female NPs earn $12,859 less annually than male NPs.2 In the United States, the healthcare industry as a whole has the fourth highest gender pay gap.3

That said, if you were to put the 2017 Salary Survey and the 2018 Salary Survey side by side, you might conclude that progress is being made. The 2017 survey found that female NPs and PAs earned approximately 84 cents for every dollar men earned, indicating that in the past year there was roughly a 2% jump for female NPs and a 3% increase for female PAs in earnings ratio. But if you go back a little further, the statistics paint a less-flattering picture.

In our 2014 Salary Survey, female NPs earned nearly 92 cents for every dollar earned by male NPs. In that same survey, female PAs made slightly more than 89 cents for every dollar earned by male PAs. These data suggest the gender wage gap among NPs and PAs was narrower in 2014 than it is today.

YearMale NP EarningsFemale NP EarningsEarnings Ratio
(Cents on the Dollar)
YearMale PA EarningsFemale PA EarningsEarnings Ratio
(Cents on the Dollar)

Even if you were to make the argument that 2014 is an outlier – female NPs and PAs received their highest earnings ratio over the past 5 years in that year – the statistics paint a picture of stagnation. The numbers fluctuate slightly from one year to the next but generally remain in the same vicinity. The gender wage gap among NPs and PAs remains sizable.

It may come as no surprise that women in the labor force are in a better position now than they were decades ago. In 1980, women earned 40% less than men. By 2015, that gap had shrunk to 20%.4 However, that progress has plateaued in recent years. In 2016, the National Women’s Law Center reported that the gender wage gap across industries has remained stagnant for a decade.5 Our data suggest much the same among NPs and PAs.

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The question moving forward is, will we remain in a holding pattern? Only time will tell. But The Clinical Advisor will be there to unearth the answer.

Help us by participating in next year’s survey so we can continue to provide the most accurate statistics and insights into the gender wage gap and other key issues affecting NPs and PAs. To ensure you are notified, supply your email here.


  1. Compensation disparity between female and male PAs persists [press release]. Alexandria, VA; American Academy of Physician Assistants; September 14, 2017.
  2. Greene J, El-Banna MM, Briggs LA, Park J. Gender differences in nurse practitioner salaries. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017;29(11):667-672.
  3. Kauflin J. The 10 industries with the biggest gender pay gaps. Forbes. December 6, 2016. Accessed September 10, 2018.
  4. Women’s earnings and the wage gap. United States Women’s Bureau. Accessed September 10, 2018.
  5. The wage gap is stagnant for a decade. National Women’s Law Center. September 2016. Accessed September 10, 2018.