How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a nurse with an advanced degree that can cater to various patient populations, including the elderly and infants. A family nurse practitioner has full authority and independence. They generate a high income and enjoy senior job positions. FNPs are health professionals that are not only in great demand but also greatly respected both by communities and health institutions.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Fig: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

If you are interested in opting for a family nurse practitioner role yourself, then you are in the right spot. Today we shall look at what an FNP earns, what they do, and how you can become one.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Overview:

An FNP is an advanced practice registered nurse (RN) with specialized education. They provide primary health care to patients from all age groups. They focus on health education and aim to care for patients of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. An FNP often develops relationships with patient families and individuals and serves them throughout their lifespan. This allows them to pursue a career that is not only financially rewarding but also one that enables professional experience and personal growth.

Duties of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP):

An FNP is expected to give attention to family-focused care. This means that they will have patients that are infants and also those that are older, leading right up to the elderly. They treat illnesses, care for injuries, and diagnose various conditions. An FNP also teaches patients about disease prevention and healthy lifestyle habits. Other duties of an FNP include:

  • Ordering diagnostic tests,
  • Conducting routine examinations,
  • Creating and following treatment plans for acute/chronic illnesses,
  • Prescribing medication,
  • Performing physical exams,
  • Teaching patients,
  • Interpreting tests,
  • Assisting in minor surgeries,
  • Making referrals.

FNPs must work independently and as part of a healthcare team where needed. They should not only be kind and helpful, but they should also have strong communication skills.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Salary and Job Outlook:

The average annual salary of an FNP in the United States is around $120,900. The range is between $112,190 and $131,340 on the lower and higher ends, respectively. The United States BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that NP jobs are expected to grow by about 40% between 2021 and 2031. This is greater than the predicted growth percentage of all other occupations.

  • An FNP can earn more by focusing on living costs, benefit packages, job offers, location, and role.
  • An FNP can set up a private practice for full autonomy and independence.
  • The highest-paying states for family nurse practitioners include California, Washington, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

You will require resources and time to become an FNP. Education and training may take eight to 10 years, but you will enjoy a rewarding career. The exact path to becoming an FNP can vary based on the type of degree program you opt for. However, most individuals will follow the steps below:

1. Become a Registered Nurse:

You can become an RN (Registered Nurse) by getting a four-year degree accredited by the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) or NLN (National League for Nursing). Alternatively, some nurses may opt for a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing. However, most RNs are expected to have a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree.

2. Obtain Licensure:

All RNs need to pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) exam to obtain licensure and be able to practice legally. The NCLEX is conducted nationwide for nurses across the United States and Canada.

3. Start Working As a Registered Nurse:

Once a nurse obtains licensure, they can start working to attain valuable experience. Exposure to all kinds of patients allows a nurse to become an FNP more easily. You should be able to care for both babies and older people alike.

4. Acquire a DNP or MSN Degree:

An RN can get a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree from an accredited university or college. Most institutions offer both full-time and part-time programs with the option of on-campus or online classes. FNP programs combine classroom learning and clinical training. The coursework includes:

  • Advanced clinical diagnosis and practice across the lifespan,
  • Differential diagnosis and primary care,
  • Epidemiology,
  • Leadership and role of the advanced practice nurse,
  • Advanced health assessment,
  • Population health,
  • Advanced pathophysiology,
  • Advanced pharmacology,
  • Primary care of childbearing and practicum,
  • Research.

5. Get a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Certification:

The last step is getting certified to practice as an FNP. Nurses need to get either the FNP-C or FNP-BC certification. Your state board may prefer a certain certificate, so opt for the one better accepted in the state you wish to practice.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers the FNP-BC exam, while the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board offers the FNP-C exam. Exams are conducted online, and requirements that must be met include:

  • An active RN state licensure or equivalent,
  • Doctoral degree, postgraduate or Master’s degree from a CCNE or ACEN accredited program,
  • A minimum of 500 clinical hours,
  • Completion in advanced health assessment, physiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology.


Family nurse practitioners play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry. Not only are they in great demand, but they also earn a hefty income. Unlike other nurses, they enjoy greater autonomy and can even set up their own private practice.

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