How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Learn about the many opportunities for family nurse practitioners.

The Basics

What you'll do: You'll handle duties commonly performed by a physician, often partnering with patients throughout the family life cycle. You'll offer education and counseling as well as tests and procedures and be trained to provide a wide range of care to a diverse group of patients. You'll focus on health promotion and disease prevention beginning in childhood and continuing throughout the aging process, and diagnose and develop treatment plans for acute and chronic diseases.

Where you'll work: Clinics, private offices, hospice centers, nurse-managed health centers, schools, homes

Degree you'll need to practice: Master's degree and certification by your State Board of Nursing

Median annual salary: $89,960*

Required Education for Family Nurses

family nurse practitioner wrapping girl's wrist

FNPs are nurse practitioners (NPs) with a specialty in family medicine.

Most family nurse practitioners spend their early years as RNs or BSNs then go back to school to earn their master's degree and become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). APNs are specialized nurses with masters or doctorate level training that deliver services that are commonly delivered by physicians. In addition to FNP, here are three other titles that APNs can earn:

If you would like to become a family nurse practitioner, you will need a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Then you must become certified by your State Board of Nursing or receive a national certification offered by a variety of agencies, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

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.