Nurse Practitioner

Patients stuck on seeing the doctor should take solace in that Nurse Practitioners are also highly-educated medical professionals who can prescribe, specialize and start their own practice. There are more than 135,000 of these RNs-turned-NPs, and their role is as important as ever.

What Do They Do?

  • The 136,060 NPs employed today earn $101,260 per year
  • 12 common work tasks that are specific to the position
  • Skills they all share: compassion, communication and resourcefulness
  • Current NPs of give us an hour-by-hour snapshot of a day in their work lives

Nurse Practitioner Salary Comparison

$104K
Nurse Practitioner
$67K
Registered Nurses
$98K
Physician Assistants

How to Become One

  • Five steps spanning six to eight-plus years to become an NP
  • Top 10 programs and 13 scholarship sources to pay their tuition
  • State licensure requires passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses
  • Expert poll: Five current NPs discuss why they joined the profession in the first place

Top Schools

RankSchool
1Johns Hopkins University
2University of Pennsylvania
3University of California—​San Francisco
4Duke University
5University of Washington

Read more to see the top 10 schools.

Getting a Job

  • Among common interview questions: Describe your most difficult patient...
  • 30-plus job boards to keep an eye on when starting your search
  • Where NPs work: 48% in offices, 28% in hospitals, 3% in education
  • Q&A: Veteran DNP on educating the next wave of nurse practitioners

How to Advance

  • Related careers: nurse practitioner versus physician assistant
  • Keys to advance in the field: Network or start a practice
  • Poll question: What separates great NPs from their average peers?

What separates a great nurse practitioner from an average one?

"You have to realize that the real learning begins after school ends. The great nurse practitioners are continually learning new knowledge every day. It is reading a journal article, attending a conference or researching a patient's condition while on the job. I feel that I am truly learning something new every day."

Shamika Brooks, RN-BSN, MSN-FNP

Advice & Resources

  • Five active NPs share their best wisdom with the next generation
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners highlights our best online resources
  • Your turn: Join the conversation by asking us questions about the career

Career How-To's

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Nurse Practitioner Career News & Analysis