Forensic nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced-practice nurses who form a bridge between the medical system and the legal system. Because the field of forensic nursing is so new, there is relatively little salary data pointing directly to FNPs. However, it is possible to get a good idea of their earnings by looking at nurse practitioner salary data for the types of settings in which FNPs are found, and then checking it against job postings for FNP positions.
NP Salary Overview
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for all Registered Nurses, including nurse practitioners (NPs), was $64,690 as of May 2010. However, most NPs earn considerably more than that. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) 2009-2010 national income and benefits survey found that the national average NP salary was $97,340.
FNPs work in a number of different settings, including police and corrections facilities, hospital emergency departments, mental health settings and others. While the available salary data doesn’t cover all possible settings, ADVANCE magazine’s 2010 National Salary Report reports that NPs working in the three settings mentioned usually earned more than the AANP national average: in emergency departments, the average salary is $104,549. In mental health settings, it is $100,914. NPs working in the corrections sector earned less, at $91,630 per year.
According to PayScale, NPs working in local or state facilities, which would include county jails, detention centers and prisons, earned between $73,056 and $97,811 annually as of May 2011. In federal facilities, which includes a large number of prisons, salaries ranged from $78,565 to $102,095.
Salaries from FNP Job Postings
Few NP job postings specify the title “forensic nurse practitioner” but two that did as of publication offered salaries in the ranges suggested by the aforementioned data. The New York State Office of Mental Health specified a salary range of $84,295 to $102,640. On the other side of the country, California’s Coalinga State Hospital offered a base salary of $103,584 to $113,688. Both offered a generous benefits package.
According to AANP, the most common fringe benefits awarded to NPs are paid vacation and sick leave, health insurance, a retirement plan, professional leave and malpractice insurance. PayScale reports that some NPs also receive life/disability insurance and education benefits. In addition to these commonly reported benefits, both of the FNP job postings offered medical, dental, prescription and vision care benefits as well.