Family Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements and Career Info

Sep 17, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a family nurse practitioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

As a family nurse practitioner you'll perform many of the same functions as a doctor, taking care of patients in a clinical setting. This is an advanced position and you'll need at least a master's degree in order to qualify.

Essential Information

Family nurse practitioners, also known as family nurses, have the advanced practice training needed to perform many of the same duties typically executed by doctors. Family nurse practitioners work with patients of all ages to perform clinical care and educate them on disease prevention and healthy lifestyles. To become a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse (RNs) must earn at least a master's degree. Family nurse practitioners may choose to focus on a particular medical specialization. They may also obtain voluntary certification in order to enlarge their skill sets.

Required Education Master's degree
Additional Requirements RN license and nurse practitioner license or certification
Projected Job Growth* (2018-2028) 28% for nurse practitioners
Median Salary* (2018) $107,030 annually for nurse practitioners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Family Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Much like physicians, family nurse practitioners are able to provide a wide range of services. According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, more people are now choosing nurse practitioners as their primary healthcare provider because they provide a unique blend of medical care and nursing, as well as personalized counseling and health education.

Typical day-to-day duties of a nurse practitioner may include performing X-rays, lab work and other diagnostic tests; analyzing test results; prescribing medication and treating such conditions as sports injuries, wounds, infections, high blood pressure, cholesterol, respiratory issues, cardiovascular complications and diabetes. Family nurse practitioners are also largely involved in managing patients' overall care, including conducting family or individual counseling session to assist them in understanding how their lifestyle can affect their overall health and well-being.

Family nurse practitioners can work in a variety of medical settings, including private practices, hospitals, outpatient centers, schools, nursing homes or urgent care facilities. Additionally, family nurse practitioners can further specialize in areas such as emergency care, allergy and immunology, neurology, orthopedics, pulmonology, sports medicine and many other areas.


Those interested in becoming a nurse practitioner must complete a master's degree in nursing. Most nursing graduate programs allow students to specialize in family nursing or other areas, including mental health, pediatrics and acute care.

During a family nurse practitioner graduate program, which usually runs about 42 semester credit hours, students focus on learning how to care for at-risk and chronically ill patients and their families. The curriculum provides in-depth instruction on diagnosing and treating illnesses, clinical decision making and prenatal care, as well as the opportunity to participate in clinical research projects. Courses may include leadership for nurse practice, nursing research, family healthcare dynamics, health care for adults, health care for children and pharmacology.

Before entering a Master of Science in Nursing program, potential nurse practitioners must complete a registered nursing training program, which can be pursued in three different ways: earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an Associate of Science in Nursing, or obtaining a diploma from a registered nurse program. These programs include classes on physiology, anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, ethics and health assessment, along with clinical training in different areas of the hospital, including emergency, oncology, mental health and pediatrics, among other departments.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for nurse practitioners was $107,030 in 2018. Family nurse practitioners play an important role in the healthcare system, and the BLS predicted that demand for nurse practitioners would increase by 28% between 2018 and 2028, a rate much faster than average.

Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a great way for nurses to advance their career, increasing their responsibilities and authority. After completing your master's degree and a professional training certificate, you will qualify for positions in this fast-growing field.

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