It’s a question on the minds of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) everywhere: is the gender wage gap narrowing, expanding, or remaining steady?

A year ago, The Clinical Advisor reported on disparities in pay between male and female NPs and PAs. We discovered that, dating back a half-decade, the gender pay gap had remained fairly uniform with minor fluctuations from year to year.

Which brings us to the findings of our recently released 2019 Salary Survey:

  • Male NPs earn an average of $118,200 annually in salary, while female NPs earn an average of $107,177 each year. For every dollar men make, women make shy of 91 cents.
  • Male PAs earn an average of $126,334 annually, while female PAs earn an average of $111,194 each year. For every dollar men make, women make 88 cents.

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While the gender wage gap remains sizable, it has narrowed in recent years. In 2017, male NPs and PAs earned approximately $19,000 and $21,000 more than female NPs and PAs, respectively. In 2018, men earned upwards of $17,000 more than women in both specialties. In 2019, the disparity in yearly earnings was found to have shrunk to about $11,000 for NPs and $15,000 for PAs.

Year Male NP Earnings Female NP Earnings Earnings Ratio (Cents on the Dollar)
2019 $118,200 $107,177 90.6%
2018 $127,753 $110,516 86.5%
2017 $123,457 $104,097 84.3%
Year Male PA Earnings Female PA Earnings Earnings Ratio (Cents on the Dollar)
2019 $126,334 $111,194 88.0%
2018 $132,890 $115,049 86.6%
2017 $128,966 $107,957 83.7%

Looking Further Back

Going back a few years, the pattern doesn’t hold. In fact, according to the results of our 2014 Salary Survey, the gender pay gap was less pronounced than it is today. That year, female NPs earned nearly 92 cents for every dollar male NPs earned, while female PAs earned a shade above 89 cents for every dollar male PAs earned.

Year Male NP Earnings Female NP Earnings Earnings Ratio (Cents on the Dollar)
2016 $115,744 $101,008 87.3%
2015 $112,338 $98,084 87.3%
2014 $102,759 $94,196 91.7%
Year Male PA Earnings Female PA Earnings Earnings Ratio (Cents on the Dollar)
2016 $120,543 $103,320 85.7%
2015 $116,567 $98,950 84.9%
2014 $108,228 $96,585 89.2%

Big Picture

The gender wage gap among NPs and PAs may be mirroring that of other industries. Pew Research Center noted that, although the gender pay gap has narrowed since 1980, it has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, according to their analysis. This is nearly on par with our findings from 2018: female NPs and PAs earned 86.5% and 86.6%, respectively, of what their male counterparts earned that year.

Taken as a whole, the data from our past 6 surveys paint a picture of stagnation. However, there is reason for optimism in observing patterns from 2017 to 2019. Time will tell whether this is the beginning of a sustainable push to close the gender wage gap in these fields, or whether fluctuation will remain the norm.

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Reference

Graf N, Brown A, Patten E. The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay. Pew Research Center. March 22, 2019. Accessed September 11, 2019.