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Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Your Comprehensive Career Guide

You can play a greater role in patient care across the lifespan as a family nurse practitioner. There are many benefits to taking this next step in your career, including expanding your scope of practice, earning greater autonomy, and increasing your salary potential. 

U.S. News & World Report ranks Nurse Practitioner (NP) as the #1 best health care job for 2023. Becoming an NP with a specialty in family practice can be a great career decision for anyone considering advanced nursing practice in a hands-on clinical environment.

We’ve put together several resources to help you decide if becoming an FNP is right for you. Here’s everything you need to know.

Nurse Practitioner in White Coat Smiling
  1. What does an FNP do?

    The day-to-day duties of an FNP include performing physical exams, developing care plans, prescribing medications, ordering tests, and consulting with other healthcare professionals. It’s a big step up from your role as an RN.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    What Does an FNP Do?

    Family Nurse Practitioner Taking Heart Rate of Pediatric Patient
  2. What are the different types of nurse practitioners?

    Family nurse practitioners are versatile healthcare professionals with a potentially broad scope of practice across the lifespan. But there are many other types of nurse practitioners who specialize in other patient populations.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    Different Types of Nurse Practitioners

    FNP Smiling at Geriatric Patient in Wheelchair
  3. FNP vs. PMHNP: what’s the difference?

    If you’re considering these two specialties, you’ll need to weigh your strengths and weaknesses in nursing before deciding on your best path forward. The type of care you prefer to deliver vs. your desired patient population can be big factors in your decision.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    FNP vs. PMHNP: What’s the Difference?

    FNP Discussing Healthcare Options with Family
  4. What skills do you need as an FNP?

    All nurse practitioners must develop a set of advanced skills to truly excel in the role, including key core competencies, communication skills, leadership abilities, and resilience in the face of stress.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    What Skills Do You Need to Succeed as an NP?

    Family Nurse Practitioner High Fiving Pediatric Patient
  5. How much does an FNP make?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners earn an average salary of $118,040 per year ($56.75 per hour).* FNP salary can vary based on where they work, years of experience, education earned, and state of employment.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    How Much Can an FNP Make?

    FNP Smiling at Adult Patient in Medical Office
  6. Where do family nurse practitioners work?

    FNPs can work in a wide variety of healthcare facilities, including physician’s offices, private practices, school clinics, hospice care, and more.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    Where do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

    Medical Team with FNP Discussing Patient Care
  7. What are the steps to become an FNP?

    Steps you need to take can vary based on several factors, including the education you’ve already earned, the FNP certification you pursue, and board requirements in your state.


    FULL ARTICLE:
    Take These Steps to Become an FNP

    Nurse Practitioner with Medical Team at Patient Bedside

What education or training do I need to become an FNP?

It depends on what degree in nursing you’ve already earned. You’ll need to earn at least a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) or Post Master’s Certificate (PMC) with an FNP concentration. We offer multiple pathways to earn the education you need to become an FNP:

BSN to FNP Family Nurse Practitioner Online Program
  • Program length: 20 months
  • Classes: View the curriculum
  • Credential earned: Master of Science in Nursing with a Concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner
RN to FNP Family Nurse Practitioner Online Program
  • Program length: 24 months
  • Classes: View the curriculum
  • Credential earned: Master of Science in Nursing with a Concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner
Post Master's Certificate FNP Family Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Program length: 16-20 months
  • Classes: View the curriculum
  • Credential earned: Post Master’s Certificate in Family Nurse Practitioner

I’m not yet an RN. Where do I start?

If you are not yet a nurse and hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible to enroll in our online MSN - Direct Entry program. You can complete the program in as few as 20-24 months depending on the prior college credits you’ve earned.

After earning an MSN you can then become an RN and enroll into a post master’s certificate FNP program, which you can complete in as few as 16-20 months.

Going from Non-Nursing to NP

Frequently Asked Questions

Licensure requirements for FNPs vary from state to state. Most require a current RN license and a master’s degree in nursing. Graduates from Herzing University’s FNP program are eligible to sit for one of the FNP certification exams. Two main bodies offer FNP certification:

You may choose which exam you’d like to take. After completing your master’s degree, you will need to get certified and obtain licensure in the state you wish to practice before opening your practice as an FNP.

One of the most important elements of the online MSN-FNP program is the clinical. At Herzing you’ll have a clinical coordinator who will serve as a resource to students, guiding and assisting with securing appropriate clinical sites.

Herzing has been partnering with clinical sites for decades, which affords students the best clinical settings due to our reputation of strong clinical presence in a wide range of facilities.

We pledge YOUR clinical placement!

With Herzing University you are never alone. Read our guide to finding preceptorship for the FNP program and get more information on who you can choose, what kinds of sites you can look for, and how we support your search.

No, an FNP is not a doctor, or physician. Their duties, roles and responsibilities are very different, along with their required education and certification.

However, family nurse practitioners are more and more regularly acting as primary care providers, especially in rural locations and certain states where there is less restrictions on what nurse practitioners can and can’t do. FNPs are often given independence and autonomy in the right circumstances.

Depending on where you live, there are certain guidelines related to licensure. You will need to check with your state board of nursing.

At Herzing University, we assist you in identifying which certification exam meets your needs. We also encourage testing within the first 90 days of graduation to help you take the next step in your career. Once you have successfully become certified then it is important to connect with your state board to meet their requirements.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for nurse practitioners is expected to rise 52% from 2020 through 2030, an expectation far surpassing the average across all occupations.*

Expect your skills and abilities to be in very high demand by the time you get your master’s degree.

Sometimes hospitals form partnerships with schools like ours to provide employees with unique benefits should they choose to pursue an advanced nursing degree.

Employees of Herzing partners can potentially earn college credit for prior work or military experience, transfer existing credit, or earn a scholarship to make going back to school more affordable.

If you are currently an RN considering becoming a nurse practitioner, view our educational partnerships or check with your employer for potential possibilities.

The DNP represents the terminal degree in nursing, meaning it’s the highest degree you can earn in nursing. It’s one level higher than the MSN. The main differences include:

  • Curriculum differences
  • Certification requirements
  • Enrollment trends
  • Salary potential
  • How long it takes to earn

Learn more about the difference between MSN vs. DNP.

Your new career path awaits

No matter where you are now, there’s a path to becoming a family nurse practitioner.

We offer educational programs for all types of students, including nurses with several years of experience—and those who have never taken a nursing class.

Today, you can step down the path to becoming an FNP. We exist to help you get there.

Learn more about our online FNP program options

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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