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What is the occupational outlook for nurse practitioners?

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The occupational outlook for nurse practitioners is strong, with an expected 31 percent growth in job openings between 2012 and 2022. This is due to a growing need for primary care providers and changes in state statutes expanding the services that nurse practitioners can perform, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this anticipated growth and an average yearly salary of $97,990 in 2014, U.S. News ranked nurse practitioner number two on its Best Jobs of 2015 list.

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Nurse practitioners working in hospitals, which represent 26 percent of nurse practitioners employed as of May 2014, earned a mean annual salary over $100,000, depending on hospital specialty. More than 46 percent of employed nurse practitioners worked in physician offices as of 2014, with a mean yearly salary of more than $96,000. Outpatient care centers employed approximately 7.6 percent of nurse practitioners in 2014, and among these practitioners, the mean annual salary was just under $100,000.

The top-paying industries for nurse practitioners in 2014 included personal care services, specialty hospitals and medical and diagnostic laboratories. Maine, Mississippi, Connecticut, Tennessee and Massachusetts have the highest concentration of jobs for nurse practitioners, while the top-paying states are Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Massachusetts.

The growing need for primary care providers, such as nurse practitioners with master's degrees, also known as advanced practice registered nurses, is a result of the expanding number of Americans with health insurance coverage, the increasing population of older Americans as the baby boomer generation ages, and a focus on preventive care.

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