What is a Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner's role is vast. It centers around overseeing nurse workflow in a specific field and meting out prompt therapy and treatment to patients via a broad understanding and clinical skills. Coupled with the role of a nurse practitioner, you have to identify and carry out treatments in medical situations, conduct research and examinations through several tests, assess data and outcomes, and collate tests from patients. It is a part of your job requirement to be able to work with various forms of medical instruments. You must maintain effective communication and organization between your fellow health colleagues in a hospital or infirmary.

You must possess excellent leadership and analytical skills. You must also be able to display calmness under pressure and empathy for patients. Additionally, you must hold a bachelor's degree or a master's degree as desired by the employer. As a nurse practitioner, you should earn an average annual salary of $94,386 or $45.38 per hour. It ranges between $70,000 to $125,000.

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state.

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How To Become a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), must earn at least a master’s degree in one of the specialty roles. APRNs must also be licensed registered nurses in their state and pass a national certification exam.

Education

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners must earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. These programs include both classroom education and clinical experience. Courses in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology are common as well as coursework specific to the chosen APRN role.

An APRN must have a registered nursing (RN) license before pursuing education in one of the advanced practice roles, and a strong background in science is helpful.

Most APRN programs prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, some schools offer bridge programs for registered nurses with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. Graduate-level programs are also available for individuals who did not obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing but in a related health science field. These programs prepare the student for the RN licensure exam in addition to the APRN curriculum

Although a master’s degree is the most common form of entry-level education, many APRNs choose to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. The specific educational requirements and qualifications for each of the roles are available on professional organizations’ websites.

Nurse anesthetists must have 1 year of clinical experience as a prerequisite for admission to an accredited nurse anesthetist program. Candidates typically have experience working as a registered nurse in an acute care or critical care setting.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states recognize all of the APRN roles. In states that recognize some or all of the roles, APRNs must have a registered nursing license, complete an accredited graduate-level program, and pass a national certification exam. Each state’s board of nursing can provide details.

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, a document developed by a wide variety of professional nursing organizations, including the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, aims to standardize APRN requirements. The model recommends all APRNs to complete a graduate degree from an accredited program; be a licensed registered nurse; pass a national certification exam; and earn a second license specific to one of the APRN roles and to a certain group of patients.

Certification is required in the vast majority of states to use an APRN title. Certification is used to show proficiency in an APRN role and is often a requirement for state licensure.

The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) offers the National Certification Examination (NCE). Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) must recertify every 2 years, which includes 40 hours of continuing education.

The American Midwifery Certification Board offers the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM). Individuals with this designation must recertify every 5 years.

There are a number of certification exams for nurse practitioners because of the large number of populations NPs may work with and the number of specialty areas in which they may practice. Certifications are available from a number of professional organizations, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Advanced practice registered nurses must be able to communicate with patients and other healthcare professionals to ensure that the appropriate course of action is understood.

Critical-thinking skills. APRNs must be able to assess changes in a patient’s health, quickly determine the most appropriate course of action, and decide if a consultation with another healthcare professional is needed.

Compassion. Nurses should be caring and sympathetic when treating patients who are in pain or who are experiencing emotional distress.

Detail oriented. APRNs must be responsible and detail- oriented because they provide various treatments and medications that affect the health of their patients. During an evaluation, they must pick up on even the smallest changes in a patient’s condition.

Interpersonal skills. Advanced practice registered nurses must work with patients and families as well as with other healthcare providers and staff within the organizations where they provide care. They should work as part of a team to determine and execute the best possible healthcare options for the patients they treat.

Leadership skills. Advanced practice registered nurses often work in positions of seniority. They must effectively lead and sometimes manage other nurses on staff when providing patient care.

Resourcefulness. APRNs must know where to find the answers that they need in a timely fashion.

Advancement

Because the APRN designation is in itself an advancement of one’s career, many APRNs choose to remain in this role for the duration of their career. Some APRNs may take on managerial or administrative roles, while others go into academia. APRNs who earn a doctoral degree may conduct independent research or work in an interprofessional research team.

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Average Salary
$94,386
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
26%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
19,478
Job Openings
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Nurse Practitioner Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners in America make an average salary of $94,386 per year or $45 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $125,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $70,000 per year.
Average Salary
$94,386
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Nurse Practitioner Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Nurse Practitioner. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Nurse Practitioner Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Nurse Practitioner resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Nurse Practitioner Demographics

Nurse Practitioner Gender Statistics

female

82.9 %

male

13.8 %

unknown

3.3 %

Nurse Practitioner Ethnicity Statistics

White

81.4 %

Asian

6.7 %

Black or African American

5.2 %

Nurse Practitioner Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

62.4 %

French

6.4 %

Chinese

3.3 %
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Nurse Practitioner Education

Nurse Practitioner Majors

79.5 %

Nurse Practitioner Degrees

Masters

47.1 %

Bachelors

37.0 %

Associate

10.5 %

Top Colleges for Nurse Practitioners

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

7. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

10. Chamberlain College of Nursing - Arlington

Arlington, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$19,375
Enrollment
506
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Online Courses For Nurse Practitioner That You May Like

Health After Cancer: Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care
coursera

This course presents basic principles of cancer survivorship to primary-care physicians. Developed by a team of experts in caring for cancer survivors, and narrated by a primary-care physician, this course provides practical tips and tools that can be easily integrated into medical practice. You will learn about the complex physical and psychosocial needs and concerns of the growing number of cancer survivors, along with the key role that primary care physicians have in guiding these patients ba...

Symptom Management in Palliative Care
coursera

This course should be taken after the Essentials of Palliative Care course and continues building your primary palliative care skills - communication, psychosocial support and goals of care. You will learn how to screen, assess, and manage both physical and psychological symptoms. You will explore common symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, and distress and learn specific treatments. You will continue to follow Sarah and Tim's experience and learn cultural competencies critical for optimal sy...

Essentials of Palliative Care
coursera

This course starts you on your journey of integrating primary palliative care into your daily lives. You will learn what palliative care is, how to communicate with patients, show empathy, and practice difficult conversations. You will learn how to screen for distress and provide psychosocial support. You will learn about goals of care and advance care planning and how to improve your success with having these conversations with patients. Finally, you will explore important cultural consideratio...

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Top Skills For a Nurse Practitioner

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 16.3% of nurse practitioners listed patient care on their resume, but soft skills such as leadership skills and communication skills are important as well.

12 Nurse Practitioner RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Nurse Practitioner

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a nurse practitioner. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington. Nurse practitioners make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $118,823. Whereas in California and Oregon, they would average $109,996 and $108,489, respectively. While nurse practitioners would only make an average of $103,964 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Nurse Practitioner Jobs:
5,969
Highest 10% Earn:
$150,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Nurse Practitioner Jobs:
483
Highest 10% Earn:
$147,000
Location Quotient:
1.05
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Washington

Total Nurse Practitioner Jobs:
4,217
Highest 10% Earn:
$153,000
Location Quotient:
1.05
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Nurse Practitioners

How Do Nurse Practitioner Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

2.0

APNPFebruary 2020

2.0

Zippia Official LogoAPNPFebruary 2020

What do you like the most about working as Nurse Practitioner?

Helping others Show More

What do you NOT like?

Lack of pay, paperwork, seeing the same patients and doing the same as a physician but getting paid alot less! Show More

Zippia Official Logo

4.0

Great ProfessionOctober 2019

4.0

Zippia Official LogoGreat ProfessionOctober 2019

What do you like the most about working as Nurse Practitioner?

I like the autonomy and the fulfillment of helping others. Show More

What do you NOT like?

I dislike the variations in the pay rates between NPs and PAs. Show More

Zippia Official Logo

2.0

Love/HateAugust 2019

2.0

Zippia Official LogoLove/HateAugust 2019

What do you like the most about working as Nurse Practitioner?

patient interaction, discussion of anything encouraging as they deal with longterm chronic illnesses. Empowering the patient to be part of the solution, and also to find ways to focus outside of their illness. And I love discussing research with patients when it relates . Show More

What do you NOT like?

#1 Administration does not value you as a health professional. They are stuck in the image of the nurse meaning we follow. They don't see us as clinicians that make a difference not just by caring, but by evaluating organ systems, medication regimens, finding the answer by communicating and getting a great history in regards to chief complaints, evaluating labs and staying up to date with research. I and other NP's before me laid the groundwork for our profession y working hard and being smart and educated. I have seen how companies want to get rid of the experienced NP to fill the role with two entry level NP's. There is age discrimination on top of it, it's not just the pay. #2 Arrogant doctors who push most of the work onto you in regards to documentation and also patient's medical management. Then act like they are "so busy". We know the good doctors from the ones who are their own fan club. Show More

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Top Nurse Practitioner Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ nurse practitioners and discovered their number of nurse practitioner opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that UnitedHealth Group was the best, especially with an average salary of $83,458. Planned Parenthood follows up with an average salary of $107,190, and then comes Overlake Internal Medicine Associates with an average of $99,116. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a nurse practitioner. The employers include Anthem, Forward, and Lang College

Nurse Practitioner Videos

Nurse Practitioner FAQs

Do you need a BSN to be an NP?

No, you do not need a BSN to be a nurse practitioner (NP). However, you need a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become an NP.

A direct-entry MSN program, or accelerated nursing program, allows for people without a BSN or prior nursing experience to become an NP. As long as a person has a bachelor's degree or master's degree, they can pursue a career in nursing. Typically these programs take two to four years to complete.

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How many years does it take to become a nurse practitioner?

It takes between six to eight years to become a nurse practitioner. A person with a high school diploma can expect to take four years for a bachelor's degree and another two to four years pursuing a master's degree to enter into this role.

This simply covers the educational time needed to become a nurse practitioner, and this role often requires at least one year of work experience. Everything factored together, it can take up to or more than ten years to become a nurse practitioner.

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Is a nurse practitioner higher than an RN?

Yes, a nurse practitioner (NP) has a higher role than a registered nurse (RN). An NP has achieved higher educational achievement and experience than an RN and is considered a higher role than an RN.

This also means that the NP's role has a larger scope with more authority than what RN's possess. NPs have a higher role than RNs due to the combination of their greater academic achievement, experience, and responsibilities.

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What is the difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner?

The primary difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner is their level of schooling. Doctors need to complete a significantly higher level of education to achieve their role. While a nurse practitioner only needs a master's degree, a doctor needs to continue schooling to get a doctorate.

Other differences depend on the state that the person lives in. In full-practice states, a nurse practitioner can practice autonomously and do everything from diagnosing patients to prescribing medications in full-practice states.

In reduced-practice and restricted-practices states, the nurse practitioner can only operate under the authority of another medical entity or even be specifically supervised by a doctor.

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What is the fastest way to become a nurse practitioner?

The fastest way to become a nurse practitioner is to enroll in a BSN program. By enrolling in this course right out of high school, a person can achieve the nurse practitioner role much quicker, as this degree is the quickest way to move into an MSN program.

Otherwise, the fastest way to become a nurse practitioner is to enroll in an accelerated nursing program. As long as a person already has a bachelor's degree, they can quickly become a nurse practitioner by going through an accelerated program to get their MSN degree.

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Updated August 18, 2021