How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (2022)


October 2, 2022

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (1)

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (2)

By: Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (3)

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (4)Medically reviewed by: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC

(Video) How To Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Nurses who are eager to move on to an advanced degree and treat the full range of patient populations, from infants to the elderly, are ideal candidates to become Family Nurse Practitioners.

Family Nurse Practitioners, or FNPs, operate with autonomy and independence, earn significantly higher incomes, and enjoy high levels of job satisfaction and respect from other health professionals and the community at large. Learn more about what an FNP does, how much you can make, how to become one, and more!

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses with specialized graduate educations who provide primary health care services to people of all ages.

With a focus on health promotion and health education, Family nurse practitioners fill a crucial role in the health care system and provide patient care to people of diverse ages and backgrounds – often the underserved.

FNPs provide services for individuals and families throughout their lifespan. This can be especially rewarding for those who enjoy developing long-term relationships and getting to know people over time. FNPs can have rewarding careers professionally, personally, and financially.

Being a Family Nurse Practitioner is all about delivering family-focused care. That means that they'll care for patients ranging from infants to the elderly and every age in between.

The healthcare services that an FNP provides are multifaceted and always patient-facing. In addition to treating illness and injuries, it also offers the opportunity to teach people about healthy lifestyle habits and disease prevention.

FNPs are frequently the primary care provider for families, which means that they will not only diagnose conditions, but also treat them.

FNPs perform physical exams, order diagnostic tests and procedures, diagnose and treat illness, prescribe needed medications, and teach their patients how to develop healthy lifestyles to promote health and prevent disease.

As an FNP your duties may include:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of health conditions
  • Conducting routine physicals
  • Developing and carrying out treatment plans for acute and chronic illnesses
  • Providing primary health care with an emphasis on preventative care
  • Prescribing medications and other therapies
  • Ordering and interpreting lab and other diagnostic tests
  • Assisting in minor surgeries
  • Making appropriate referrals when needed

FNPs must be able to work independently as well as able to collaborate with others on the healthcare team. Having strong communication skills and an empathetic nature are also helpful characteristics.

Show Me Family NP Programs

(Video) FAMILY NURSE PRACTITIONER | Everything You Need to Know About Being a FNP

Advanced practice nurses command higher salaries than registered nurses, and this holds true for family nurse practitioners. According to, the average family nurse practitioner salary in 2022 is $115,920 but the range typically falls between $107,570 and $125,930.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2021, the median annual income for nurse practitioners was $123,780 per year, with the lower 10% of NPs earning $79,870 or less and the upper 10% of NPs earning $200,540 or more.

As with any employment situation, FNPs should think about many factors when looking at any job offer, such as local cost of living and total benefits package (health and dental insurance, retirement benefits, educational benefits, and others). Search for positions in the location where you want to work to find out more about the specific FNP salary ranges in your area.

Nurse practitioners who wish to set up a private practice will need to evaluate the local market, obtain professional advice from their accountant and legal professional, and create a solid business plan. Savvy FNPs with a solid business plan can develop a lucrative private practice.

Highest Paying States for Family Nurse Practitioners

The BLS reports that in 2021 the highest paying states for nurse practitioners were:

  • California: $151,830
  • New Jersey: $137,010
  • New York: $133,940
  • Washington: $130,840
  • Massachusetts: $129,540

Highest Paying Cities for Family Nurse Practitioners

The BLS also reported that the top five metropolitan areas for nurse practitioner pay were:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $197,870
  • Napa, CA: $184,700
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $180,380
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $177,160
  • Yuba City, CA: $159,260

Show Me Family NP Programs

Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner requires a commitment of time and resources, taking 8 to 10 years for many nurses, but it is an investment in your future that will reward you in many different ways. Though the path to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner can vary depending upon whether you choose to pursue your degree full time or part-time, in person or online, for most people the journey will follow these steps:

  1. Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing – 4-5 years
  2. Get licensed as a Registered Nurse
  3. Gain invaluable clinical experience working as a Registered Nurse – 2-3 years
  4. Obtain your Master’s Degree in Nursing or your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)– 2-3 years through an accredited Family Nurse Practitioner program.
  5. Become certified as an FNP by passing the certification exam from either the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Depending on which certification board you go through, you'll earn either the FNP-BC certification or the FNP-C certification.

STEP ONE: Become an RN

In order to become a nurse, your first step is to pursue a four-year college or university program accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the National League for Nursing (NLN). Though some nurses earn their degrees in other disciplines and some choose to become a nurse by earning a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing, the nursing profession is steadily moving towards a goal of having 80% of Registered Nurses BSN degreed by 2020. For more information on becoming an RN, see our RN Career Guide. And for more information on getting your bachelor's degree in nursing, check out our BSN degree guide.

STEP TWO: Get Licensed as a Registered Nurse

In order to get your license as a Registered Nurse, you need to pass the RN licensing exam known as the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). The NCLEX is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada.

STEP THREE: Begin Working as a Registered Nurse

Upon becoming licensed, most nurses work for a few years, gaining valuable experience in providing care for patients. For those interested in becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, this is the time where you can gain exposure to a diverse range of patients, and can focus on becoming familiar with cradle-to-grave care.


Both Master’s and Doctorate degree Family Nurse Practitioner programs are available through accredited colleges and universities.

Most offer both full-time and part-time degree programs, and many offer the option of taking classes in traditional campus settings or online. Nusing programs that prepare you for the FNP role will include courses in the following:

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FNP Coursework

  • Advanced Clinical Diagnosis and Practice across the Lifespan
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Differential Diagnosis and Primary Care
  • Epidemiology
  • Leadership and Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse
  • Population Health
  • Primary Care of Childbearing and Practicum
  • Research

Programs will include both classroom didactic learning and hands-on patient clinical learning.

STEP FIVE: Become Certified in Family Practice

In order to become a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, you need to become certified by earning either your FNP-C or FNP-BC certification. Your state board of nursing may have a preference, so it is a good idea to check with them beforehand. The FNP-BC examination is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center while the FNP-C examination is offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board.

FNP Certification Requirements

FNP certification exams are conducted online. No matter which you take, you must have:

  • A current, active RN license in a state or territory of the U.S. or the equivalent in another country
  • A Master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree from a family nurse practitioner program accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • At least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours and completion of comprehensive graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/ pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology

FNP Recertification

Recertification is required every five years. You are also required to maintain an active registered nurse license with your state board of nursing according to its requirements for practice and continuing education.

Our Continuing Education Guide can provide information regarding each state’s requirements for renewing RN licensure.

Regarding recertification, your certifying organization has specific requirements for renewal, so be sure you’re on top of those, as well as prepared to pay any fees. Both the AANC and AANP require a certain number of clinical practice hours and CE credits. Become familiar with these requirements well before your recertification is due.

Show Me Family NP Programs

Choosing a master's program is a big decision. Make sure that any school you consider is accredited by the AACN or the NLN. For a listing of programs nationally, check the listing provided on the APNA website, searchable by state.

If you’re searching for top-ranked nursing master's programs, check out this list of the top family nurse practitioner programs. Here are the top 5 results:

1.Thomas Jefferson University

  • Tuition: $1,200 per credit hour
  • Admissions: Rolling
  • Degree Awarded: MSN

2.Duke University

  • Tuition: $1,910 per credit hour
  • Admissions: December 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN

3.University of Rochester

  • Tuition: $1,640 per credit hour
  • Admissions: April 15th or September 15th
  • Degree Awarded: MSN

4.Stony Brook University

  • Admissions: December 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Cost: $635.58 per credit hour

5.Binghamton University

  • Admissions: Rolling but March 15th or October 15th is recommended
  • Degree Awarded: MSN or DNP
  • Program Cost: $13,555 per academic year

Keep in mind that there are many accredited schools of nursing that can help you meet your career goals to become a family nurse practitioner.

(Video) So You Want to Be a NURSE PRACTITIONER [Ep. 25]

Because the role of a Family Nurse Practitioner is very similar to that of a primary care physician.

  • They will generally begin their day reviewing their patient schedule, making time for emergent situations.
  • They generally see three or more patients an hour, reviewing charts beforehand and, upon meeting with patients, diagnosing conditions, conducting well-patient exams, prescribing medications and making referrals to specialists where appropriate.
  • Most will try to spend a portion of each appointment having a one-on-one conversation with their patients so that they can establish a strong rapport. This is important, as many FNPs provide care to their patients throughout much of their lives.

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (5)

Show Me Family NP Programs

Family nurse practitioners are recognized for their ability to work both collaboratively and independently. As a result, those who have earned this advanced practice nursing degree are able to find career opportunities in a variety of settings, including:

  • Academia
  • Clinics
  • Community health centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Government sector
  • Home health care
  • Hospice centers
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Nurse-managed health centers
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Private offices/private practice
  • School clinics
  • Urgent care centers

In addition to working directly with patients to provide care, Family Nurse Practitioners are also sought out for positions in administration, in setting policy, and in education. Notably, because nurse practitioners are able to work autonomously in most states throughout the country, they have been able to fill the significant gap in care available to patients in rural areas. These areas have been severely affected by the national shortage of physicians, and Family Nurse Practitioners have stepped in to provide essential preventative care in these communities.

Show Me Family NP Programs

Clinical practice and continuing education requirements for renewing a nursing license, certification, and advanced practice certification vary by state and credentialing body. Check with your state board and credentialing agency for the rules on keeping your RN license and certification(s) up to date. You can also visit our CE Guide for details.

You can learn more about FNP roles by searching the web and talking with nurses currently working in the field. Also read as much as you can about the professional role, including the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP). A good start is to visit the website for the (American Association of Nurse Practitioners)[

Also, reach out to your local hospital or school of nursing to find out about any upcoming career fairs. Set up an appointment with a student advisor or career counselor at your local college or university to discuss the roles and responsibilities of an FNP. Many school websites also provide information about what it takes to become an FNP.

Additionally, is an invaluable resource. The articles listed below will provide you with answers to many of your questions about becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner Salary Guide
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Education Guide
  • Nurse Practitioner: MSN vs. DNP
  • Top Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

The BLS predicts that there will be a 52% increase in the need for nurse practitioners through 2030. There is expected to be 114,900 jobs annually that need to be filled by qualified NPs. Unfortunately, the BLS doesn’t differentiate between FNPs and other types of NPs. With baby-boomer nurses nearing retirement, there will be a demand for new nurses to enter the profession. The growing health needs of our aging population also contribute to the need for more advanced practice nurses. Our healthcare system direly needs to improve efficiency and curb costs. Advanced practice nurses such as FNPs provide a cost-effective avenue for providing high-quality health services to more people, including underserved segments of the population.


(Video) Five Reasons To NOT Become A Family Nurse Practitioner

There are many sources to get you started in your search for family nurse practitioner positions, including our own job board. Check the “Careers” pages of websites for hospitals and agencies that interest you. Many online resources are also useful in job searching, including nursing social media sites, career sites, websites of professional organizations, and dedicated nursing career sites. Use your professional network to find out where the good employers are, and to talk to a seasoned entrepreneur about the potential for setting up a private practice.

Family nurse practitioners play a vital role in improving the health and lives of patients, families, and communities. As an FNP you’ll receive daily personal rewards working in partnership with people from many walks of life as they overcome health challenges and work to stay healthy. The professional rewards will come from lifelong learning required to keep abreast of new technologies and treatments as you strive for the best possible health outcomes for your patients.

  1. General Nurse Practitioner
  2. Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner
  3. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  4. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  5. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  6. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  7. Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
  8. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
  9. Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  10. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  11. Oncology Nurse Practitioner
  • What's the difference between FNP vs NP?

    • The difference between FNPs versus other Nurse Practitioner specialties is that Family Nurse Practitioners have a wider focus, as they treat people of all ages. Other NP specialties like Pediatric NPs or Orthopedic NPs have much narrower scopes.
  • Can a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) work in a hospital?

    • Yes! FNPs can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, due to their ability to work both collaboratively and independently.
  • Can a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) write prescriptions?

    • Yes! FNPS and Nurse Practitioners of all specialties can prescribe medications, though the degree of independence in prescribing medications varies by their level of authority in each state. For example, in 21 states NPs have full-practice authority where they don't need oversight from a physician, whereas in others where they have either reduced-practice or restricted-practice authority, requiring differing levels of supervision.
  • Can FNPs Specialize?

    • Yes! FNPs have the ability to work in a variety of subspecialties. These can include things like cardiology, dermatology, oncology, surgery, etc. They can do this a few different ways: Finding mentors in specialty areas while they are in school, choosing a program that offers subspecialty options, specialty Nurse Practitioner fellowships and residencies


What type of NP is most in demand? ›

The most popular NP specialty is a family practice. This is most likely due to the flexibility the job offers. If you pursue FNP in school—you can work in family medicine, urgent care, and most specialty clinics, including palliative care and hospice.

What are your weaknesses as a nurse practitioner? ›

Reflect on your weaknesses

Spending too much time on paperwork. Paying too much attention to detail. Attempting to complete too many tasks at once. A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.

How do you nail an NP interview? ›

How can you prepare for a job interview as a nurse practitioner?
  1. Research the site and the people you're going to meet.
  2. Don't underestimate the power of a first impression.
  3. Remember to ask some questions yourself.
  4. Update and review your resume.
  5. Keep your application in mind.
  6. Check the job description again before going in.
21 Oct 2020

What makes a good FNP? ›

The most successful nurse practitioners are highly creative in their ideas, problem-solving abilities, and communication. They seek innovative methods and solutions in their patient care, and they are early adopters of new technologies.

What skills are needed to be a family nurse practitioner? ›

Family nurse practitioners must be able to address medical staff professionally. They also must be able to communicate well with patients. It is crucial to be able to convey information clearly and compassionately. Excellent written communication skills are also needed to ensure patient records are accurate.

What is the hardest nurse practitioner? ›

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Armed Forces NP. ...
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Correctional Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Substance Abuse Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Critical Care Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

What is the easiest nurse practitioner? ›

  1. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner. ...
  2. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. ...
  3. Family Nurse Practitioner. ...
  4. Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners (OHNP) ...
  5. Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner.

What is the least stressful NP specialty? ›

  1. School Nurse Practitioner. ...
  2. Medical Writer. ...
  3. Nurse Educator. ...
  4. Clinic Nurse Practitioner. ...
  5. Public Health NP. ...
  6. Clinical Research NP. ...
  7. Weight Loss Clinic NP. ...
  8. Nurse Informatics.

What skills should I put on my resume for nurse practitioner? ›

Top Nurse Practitioner Resume Skills
  • Electronic health records.
  • ‌Primary care.
  • ‌Diagnostics.
  • ‌Compassion.
  • ‌Patient evaluation.
  • ‌Strong clinical judgment.
  • ‌Patient education.
  • ‌Stamina.

What is the most important skill in nursing? ›

Effective Communication

On a daily basis, nurses must communicate with their patients, patients' family members, and the larger medical team. They must be able to listen to and understand the concerns of their patients—this is essential for evaluating conditions and creating treatment plans.

What are the 4 roles nurse practitioners can have? ›

NPs are responsible to the public and adaptable to the dynamic changes in health care. As leaders in health care, NPs combine the roles of provider, mentor, educator, researcher, advocate, and administrator.

What skills do general practitioners need? ›

List Of Skills To Add To Your General Practitioner Resume
  • Patient Care.
  • Emergency.
  • Diagnosis.
  • Health Care.
  • Internal Medicine.
  • Outpatient Clinic.
  • Oral Hygiene.
  • Physical Exams.
18 Aug 2021


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