Adult Nurse Practitioner: Summary of Career Education

Adult nurse practitioners require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Nurse practitioners are highly trained nurses with a master's degree in their field. They have their registered nursing license, and may opt to take certification in a specialty. Adult nurse practitioners provide specialized care for adults and they are qualified to supervise registered nurses.

Essential Information

Adult nurse practitioners (ANPs) are qualified to provide specialized nursing care for adults and supervise registered nurses (RNs). There are several education paths to become an ANP, but professional certification requires graduating from a master's or postgraduate program and holding a valid license as an RN. There are many areas of specialization available to an ANP, including health policy, acute care and pharmacology. Training requires classroom work and many hours of practical experience.

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements RN licenses; optional specialty certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 35% (all nurse practitioners)
Median Salary (2015)* $98,190 (all nurse practitioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Adult Nurse Practitioner Education Information

An ANP is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in diagnosing and treating afflictions specific to adults. Some ANPs choose to specialize in specific fields, such as AIDS assessment, palliative care or cardiovascular disease prevention. In many circumstances, adult care can be classified as caring for those above the age of 12. ANPs must complete graduate degree programs in nursing.

To become ANPs, individuals must first complete requirements to become RNs. Diploma, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs can all prepare individuals to become RNs; however, a bachelor's degree is necessary to gain admission into graduate programs. Individuals must also have passed the National Council of Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and maintain their nursing licenses. This is not the case for all entrants, however, since some advanced nursing programs allow students of varying education backgrounds to gain admission.

Adult Nurse Practitioner Specializations

Students have multiple entry options into ANP programs. Different entry requirements are available to those from non-nursing backgrounds, those who hold associate or bachelor's degrees in nursing and those with post-master's educations. There are a number of areas of specialization within these programs and may include:

  • Primary care for adults
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Theory and research applications
  • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology
  • Acute illness in adults
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Legal leadership issues
  • Genetics and advanced nursing
  • Health policy and finance
  • Gerontology

Adult Nurse Practitioner Credentialing Information

Specialty certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is available for ANPs. The ANCC offers exams in multiple specialties, including general adult health, gerontology and mental health. Upon passing a specialty exam, individuals may use the ANP-BC designation. While obtaining a credential through the ANCC is voluntary, some states and employers require their ANPs to be actively certified. Additional fees and renewal every five years is required in order to maintain the credential.

Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a much faster than average job growth for types of nurse practitioners for 2014-2024. The BLS stated that nurse practitioners earned $98,190 as an annual median wage in 2015.

Adult nurse practitioners are qualified to diagnose and treat adult patients. They may be responsible for supervising registered nurses, and may also opt to specialize in a specific field of adult patient care. Nurse practitioners must have a master's degree in their field, and be registered nurses.

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