How to Become an Adult Nurse Practitioner

Learn about the many opportunities in adult nursing.

The Basics

What you'll do: Adult nursing professionals work in leadership roles as primary health care providers to promote constructive health practices and disease prevention beginning in early adulthood and continuing throughout the aging process.

Degree you'll need to practice: Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Certification: You may earn adult nursing certification by passing the exam from either of these organizations:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

Median annual salary: $89,960*

Career Overview

adult nurse practitioner with patient

Adult nurse practitioners are trained to apply nursing theory and research to clinical practice. As leaders in the health care environment, adult nursing specialists educate, organize and manage the staff in their teams to respond quickly and efficiently in both routine tasks and emergency situations. An adult nurse practitioner will treat both acute and chronic illness, and can specialize in specific areas, such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS.

An adult nurse practitioner usually finds employment with a hospital, but opportunities are available in a wide variety of health care settings, including long-term care facilities, health care agencies, doctors' offices and community-based treatment centers. As a nurse practitioner, you are responsible for multiple tasks:

  • Learning your patients' history
  • Comforting and advising your patients and their families
  • Conducting patient investigations
  • Assisting doctors with tests and diagnosis
  • Updating patient records with current information
  • Preparing drips and blood transfusions
  • Giving and checking medicine and injections

Adult Nursing Education

Some nursing schools offer adult nursing practitioner training as part of their Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Before you begin earning your adult nursing education you need to complete a registered nursing program with either an Associate's of Science in Nursing degree or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Most master's degree programs take two years to complete.

Like almost all other nurse practitioner courses, hundreds of clinical experience hours are required prior to earning your adult nurse practitioner credentials. The number of hours is set by the institution offering the program.

Career Outlook

Demand for adult nurse practitioners is high, and the number of job opportunities is expected to increase significantly over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to a high demand for qualified nurse practitioners, many nursing career facilities offer incentives for joining their staff, such as a signing bonus, increased salary or even subsidized training. These incentives often require that you remain at the facility for a certain amount of time.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.