How to Begin a Professional Career as a Nurse Practitioner

How to Begin a Professional Career as a Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioners: A Quick Look
Median Salary $96,460 per year
$46.37 per hour
Entry-level Education Master’s degree
On-the-job training None
Primary employers Hospitals, Clinics, Doctor’s offices, Homes, Schools
Number of positions (U.S.) 151,400
Job Growth (2012-2022) 31% (Much faster than average)
New positions (2012-2022) 47,600

Nurse PractitionerNurse Practitioner Job Description

Nurse Practitioner job description revolves around coordinating and providing care for patients. They also offer primary (or specialty) medical services. Find out everything you need to know about how to become a nurse practitioner here.

Nurse Practitioner Salary

BLS data recorded in May 2012 shows that the median yearly Nurse Practitioner salary typically sits at $96,460. As with other in demand health care professions, Nurse Practitioners earn the absolute top wages. Hospitals pay the highest Nurse Practitioner salary in the job market at the moment. Read more

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

If you wish to learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner, you must study a lot. Every NP possess a specialty master’s degree in Nursing (at least) These highly educated professionals must pass a national certification exam to become a licensed registered nurses (RNs) in their respective state. Find out more here.

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Nurse Practitioner Salary

Now that you are familiar with the basics of being a professional nurse practitioner, you’re probably curious about the financial rewards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for these nurses (and nurse anesthetists, as well as nurse midwives) in May 2012 sits at $96,460. As this is a median average, salaries can range between $66,330 to over $161,030 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top five highest paying industries for a nurse practitioner salary include hospitals (local, state, and private) ($101,990 median annual wage); offices or other health practitioners ($98,260); physician’s offices ($97,600); outpatient care centers ($92,270); and colleges, universities or professional schools ($88,070). Another study conducted by Advance for NPs and PAs supports the fact that a Nurse Practitioner salary varies depending on their specialty. For instance, the nurses who specialize in Diabetes or Endocrinology typically receives an annual salary of $88,397. Nurses who operate in a Retail Clinic earn around $96,800 per year. The hourly rate for these nurses range from $40 to $62 depending on the employer. As far as working hours are concerned, a nurse typically works 9-to-5 schedules if they work in at a doctor's office. However, they may work shifts (along with overtime) if employed by a hospital. This occupation might involve great amounts of stress. But, the personal and professional satisfactions can prove to be quite rewarding.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

You are no doubt interest in learning how to become a nurse practitioner. The first steps involve your education: every nurse practitioner must possess at least a master’s degree for in one specialty. Furthermore, they must take and pass a national certification exam and become licensed registered nurses (RNs) in the state they work in. An accredited master’s program for nurse practitioners involves pharmacology, anatomy and physiology studies, which are necessary in order to achieve a degree. The process of becoming a licensed registered nurse includes clinical experience and knowledge of science (even though it is not mandatory, it truly helps). Chronologically, a nurse first registers, gains clinical experience, graduates from a master’s program and ultimately passes a licensing exam. Even though most programs require a bachelor’s degree in nursing, some institutions provide bridge programs for RNs as well as graduate-level programs. Moreover, many ambitious nurses study to obtain a Ph.D. or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). Those who achieve such degrees may continue their careers by conducting research (independently or with a team) and even advancing as managers or administrators. There is quite a wide range of schools that properly teach you how to become a nurse practitioner. provides a list of popular options for those in the field, which contains Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate programs at Kaplan University. For basic studies, you can choose from Bachelors of Science in Nursing – RN to BSN, RN to Master of Science in Nursing, BS in Health Science or BS in Healthcare Administration. To further your studies, you can pick from: MS in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner, Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization or MS in Nursing – Nurse Informatics. For those determined to advance in their careers, a few relevant doctoral programs include the following: Doctoring of Nursing Practice, Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization.

Nurse Practitioner Job Description

A Nurse Practitioner job description (also known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses – APRNs) involves much more than that of an entry level nurse. Even though people tend to confuse the two occupations from time to time (believing that a Nurse Practitioner is like a standard doctor’s assistant), you should know that there are a few clear differences that set them apart. While both nurses are professionals in the medical area who focus upon care, only these nurses are allowed to prescribe medication. Another difference revolves around the level of education. So what exactly is the Nurse Practitioner job description? And, how much does the occupation pay and what are the outlooks for this job? Most importantly, how do you know if this is the right choice for your future career? Find out everything you need to know about how to begin a professional career as a nurse practitioner. The main responsibilities of these nurses are to coordinate and provide care for the patient and possibly offer primary (or specialty) medical services, depending on a series of factors (such as location). Many of their daily tasks are similar to the ones of doctors in their specific field. Another duty listed in the job description of these nurses is the life-long care they provide for patients, from the moment they are born and until they reach a respectable age. Some of the specialties that a nurse practitioner can choose range from are primary care, geriatrics, oncology, pediatrics and psychiatric care. In a nutshell, some of the most significant duties in the nurse practitioner job description include the following:
  • Diagnosing and developing treatment plans for minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Managing high blood pressure and chronic health conditions such as depression or diabetes.
  • Maintaining a constant relationship with the patients while teaching them about health care alternatives.
  • Ordering, performing and interpreting various tests (EKGs, for example).
  • Performing focused and comprehensive physical examinations as well as procedures.
  • Prescribing medication.
The working environment for these nurses varies according to preferences and location. Such a professional can operate in hospitals, clinics or in the office of a doctor. These nurses also work in schools or private homes. A few of the core qualities a nurse practitioner must possess include empathy, compassion, patience and general care. On a U.S. level, these nurses are legally allowed to prescribe medication like physicians do. Moreover, 26 states allow them to carry out individual practices. This is great news for those who live in rural areas, as it is much harder to get into contact with a physician than with a nurse practitioner.

Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

If you have positively checked off all the occupational, financial and educational aspects for this profession, you will certainly want to know the Nurse Practitioner job outlook for the future. We are very proud to inform you that this career path should continue growing exponentially for the following few years. Studies show that the employment of these nurses should grow no less than 31% between 2012 through 2022. This is a much greater rate than most jobs on the market and is obviously one of the main advantages if you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner in the near future. Some of the reasons for this growth are: the demand for medical services, the rising importance given to prevention and the ever-aging population trend. Because these nurses can carry out many duties that physicians do, they can serve as an alternative for primary care, especially in rural regions, as we mentioned before. Likewise, nurse practitioners are gaining more and more trust from patients and, therefore, are becoming an ever-more popular choice for primary healthcare services. Unfortunately, patients with various conditions will also be on the rise, but that is good news for aspiring APRNs – these patients will require constant treatment and care, exactly what a nurse practitioner does best. All this demand helps the overall Nurse Practitioner job outlook for the future. Out of the 2.5 million nurses registered in America, only a few over 100,000 are nurses, according to One of the main reasons involves the long years of education (from 6 to 8 years). As the demand for physicians is on the high (and the supply on the low), many hospitals are turning to nurses for their healthcare services. All in all, why should you become a nurse practitioner? Are you resourceful, compassionate and detail-oriented? Do you possess leadership, interpersonal, critical-thinking and communication skills? Then this just might be the best job for you. If you are a “people-person” and if you love giving a helping hand and making a true difference in the lives of individuals, chances are that you will be living your dream job. For the “bookworms” who love taking in knowledge, especially in scientific fields, the educational process of becoming a practitioner nurse will be nothing less than rewarding. If you want to give genuine meaning to your life by helping the lives of others, choose to be a nurse practitioner. You just might end up in becoming one of the happiest professionals in the world.


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