Family Nurse Practitioner Career: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
A family nurse practitioner's median salary is around $95,000. Is it worth the education and certification requirements? Read real job descriptions, get salary info and learn the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a family nurse practitioner is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Family Nurse Practitioner Career

Unlike registered nurses, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) have primary care duties similar to physicians. Learn about the pros and cons to determine if this career is a good choice for you.

Pros of an FNP Career
Nursing is a rapidly growing field (31% expected growth from 2012-2022)*
Good income compared to most other careers (median annual wage of $95,000 as of 2014 for all nurse practitioners)*
Can provide highest level of nursing care to families*
Gratifying career helping those in need*
Numerous accredited sources for quality training available*

Cons of an FNP Career
Weekend, on-call and round-the-clock work possible*
Requires several years of education and training*
Licensing, certification and continuing education are mandatory*
Potentially stressful job*
Potential contact with infectious diseases and hazardous conditions (radiation, accidental needle sticks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses that serve as primary care providers to patients and their families. As an FNP, you may record and analyze patient histories, perform physical examinations and treat illnesses. You may also recommend diagnostic tests, counseling and even pre-natal care. FNPs are authorized to prescribe and administer medication as well.

These professionals commonly work in hospitals, outpatient clinics and other healthcare facilities. The job can be rewarding, as you provide a valuable service to patients. However, increased workloads, long or unusual work schedules and challenging patient issues can lead to job stress.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to PayScale.com, most family nurse practitioners earned between $68,000 and $103,000 annually as of July 2015. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for all nurse practitioners, regardless of their area of specialization, was about $95,000 in 2014. The top 10% of nurse practitioners made about $131,000 or more per year.

The career outlook for nurse practitioners is bright, according to the BLS; the number of employed RNs is expected to grow 34% from 2012-2022. Inner cities and rural areas are typically underserved, so nursing opportunities may be strong in those areas. Nursing care facilities, home health care organizations and private practices will also be seeking FNPs in the coming years.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training Info

Aspiring FNPs usually need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program or a graduate certificate program. These programs typically take 2-3 years to complete; requirements for admission often include a bachelor's degree in nursing and RN licensure. Family nurse practitioner programs explore topics like pathophysiology, health promotion, healthcare statistics and diagnosis techniques. In addition to lecture-based sessions, you'll participate in clinical practicums.

Licensing Info

In order to become an RN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses. State licensure requirements can vary, so it's important to check with your individual state board. In some states, you also need to obtain FNP licensure or registration. Common requirements include an RN license and a nurse practitioner master's degree. In some cases, certification through a recognized professional organization can qualify you for FNP licensure.

FNP Certification Requirements

Obtaining RN licensing and required education makes candidates eligible for Family Nurse Practitioner certifications. The American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners both offer credentials for advanced practice nurses. Continuing education is required in order to maintain active status for any type of nursing certification.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers are looking for licensed, certified FNPs who can work a variety of shifts, including days, nights and weekends. Experience is typically desired. Below are some examples of job opportunities available as of April and May 2012:

  • In California, an FNP is needed to perform physicals and general medical care. Candidate must have at least 3 years of experience for this full-time position with potential on-call, holiday and weekend hours. Current licensure is required.
  • An Oregon GYN practice seeks an experienced FNP. This is a full-time position that pays between $80,000 and $95,000 annually; benefits are included.
  • A Colorado healthcare practice needs an FNP for a short-term contract position. Eligible candidates should have a master's degree in nursing, Colorado licensure and at least one year of experience.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Because most FNPs hold master's degrees, earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) may give you an edge on the competition. These programs can prepare you for leadership and research roles, as well as nursing school instructor positions. Possible degree specializations may include mental health or population health.

Joining a professional nursing organization may also help you stand out in the field. Organizations like the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offer member access to job boards, continuing education, affiliated certification and networking opportunities.

Other Career Options

If you're interested in the medical field but don't want to complete extensive training, you may want to become a registered nurse. You're still required to obtain licensure, but training programs can be completed in two years. The level of care that RNs provide is less than that of FNPs. However, you're still able to help those in need while earning a good living. The BLS reported employment growth at 26% in the 2010-2020 decade; RNs earned a median salary of $66,000 as of May 2011.

Perhaps nursing doesn't sound appealing, but you're still interested in healthcare careers; consider becoming a physician assistant (PA). These professionals observe patients, diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications under the guidance of physicians. PAs need at least a bachelor's degree and must also finish an accredited physician assistant program, which commonly leads to a master's degree. Similar to nurses, licensure is required. More than half (54%) of PAs work in doctor's offices, and employment was expected to grow 30% from 2010-2020. Additionally, average pay in the career is strong; PAs earned a median salary of around $87,000 as of 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • Master of Science - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Accelerated BSN to MSN
      • MS in Nursing - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Science - DNP Adult Nurse Practitioner
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
    Certificate
      • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
      • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Northern Illinois University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
      • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing for RNs
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Leadership & Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Educator
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
      • B.S. in Professional Studies - Nursing Home Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Education Specialist - Nursing Education
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Independence University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Nursing Administration (MS)
      • Nursing Education (MS)
    Bachelor's
      • Nursing (RN completion to BS) (RN req.)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

  • East Lansing, MI

    Michigan State University

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • Master of Science - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Northern Illinois University

  • Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing for RNs

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Leadership & Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
  • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
  • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Education Specialist - Nursing Education

What is your highest level of education?

Independence University

  • Nursing Administration (MS)
  • Nursing Education (MS)
  • Nursing (RN completion to BS) (RN req.)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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