Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Projected Job Growth

  • +0% Job Growth for
    Nurse Practitioners

  • 2013
  • 2023

Average Salary for Nurse Practitioners

  • $0 Annual Pay
    National Average
  • $0 Hourly Pay
    National Average

Best States for Nurse Practitioners

in 2011
Annual Salary
Hourly Pay
Tennessee 3,940 $88,720 $43
Mississippi 1,680 $91,940 $44
Maine 870 $87,060 $42


Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

To become a nurse practitioner, you typically must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN). RN licensure requires clinical rotations as well as nursing course work in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nursing science, and more. After this, a student completes graduate study specialized for nurse practitioners. This might be a master's program, a post-master's program, or even a doctorate, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Master's programs are the most common point of entry for nurse practitioners since post-master's programs are typically reserved for RNs who have a master's degree in an area outside of nurse practitioner studies. However, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) may be the entry-level standard in the future, the AANP explained.

Once a student is admitted to a nurse practitioner graduate program, they typically select a specialization, which could be anything from family practice, gerontological practice, or psychiatric mental health. Students complete course work in disease prevention, health promotion, health assessment, managing illnesses, and the nurse practitioner's role in health care. Students will also be required to complete advanced clinical training, often referred to as practicum experiences, in a variety of settings, and may conclude their program by submitting a thesis or graduate project. A sampling of classes you may take in a nurse practitioner program, drawn from course listings for Seattle University's primary care nurse practitioner program, include the following:

  • Introduction to Primary Care
  • Advanced Assessment and Differential Diagnosis
  • Concepts and Theories for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Advanced Nursing Practice Roles and Functions

After completing a master's program in nurse practitioner studies, students often become certified through a credentialing organization, which will give them more access to jobs in practical nursing. For example, the AANP offers the NP-C (Nurse Practitioner-Certified) credential to nurse practitioners who pass the necessary exam. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) also offers certification for nurse practitioners in 12 different areas, including acute care NP, family NP, emergency NP, advanced diabetes management, and more. Certification from a recognized credentialing agency is often a requirement for APRN licensure in different U.S. states; for example, the state of Connecticut requires APRNs to hold both a valid RN license and be certified through one of seven different credentialing organizations, such as the AANP or the ANCC.