Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Career Overview

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Career Overview

FNP helping mom and daughter in doctor's officeFamily nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide primary healthcare services. They care for patients of all ages, focusing on prevention as well as treating illnesses and injuries. FNPs often work in physician’s offices, where they have a good deal of autonomy due to state laws. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they can earn annual salaries ranging from $91,250 to $208,080.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the role of a family nurse practitioner (FNP), the educational path to becoming one, and the typical salary expectations.

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How Long Does It Take to Become an FNP?

It usually takes 3 to 5 years to become a family nurse practitioner.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for FNPs is promising, with an expected 38% growth in demand from 2021 to 2031.

Average Annual Salary

The average annual salary for FNPs is $125,900.

Source: BLS

Nurse Practitioner Programs

What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?

To become an FNP, you’ll need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and the necessary certifications. FNPs assess, diagnose, and treat patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. They typically work as part of healthcare teams that include physicians and registered nurses. Their responsibilities involve handling common illnesses and injuries and referring patients to specialists when required.

A day in the life of an FNP may include performing wellness check-ups, providing guidance to patients on lifestyle changes to improve their health, managing treatment plans, prescribing and administering medications and vaccines, ordering tests and analyzing results, and collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Key Responsibilities

– Administering medication
– Diagnosing illnesses
– Managing care plans
– Ordering and interpreting test results
– Providing patient education

Career Traits

– Ability to stand and walk for extended periods
– Compassionate listening and communication skills
– Effective stress management
– Dedication to patient advocacy
– Ability to work well under pressure

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

Family nurse practitioners can be found in various healthcare settings, including physician’s offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of other health practitioners, and home health care services.

Physician’s Offices

In physician’s offices, FNPs generally see patients during regular business hours and are less likely to be on call for emergencies. They often collaborate with physicians, but in some states, they have the autonomy to practice primary care independently.


Hospital-based FNPs often work in shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays, as hospital patients may require round-the-clock care. Their roles can be physically demanding, involving long hours on their feet and assisting patients with mobility.

Outpatient Care Centers

FNPs in outpatient care centers perform many of the same duties as physicians, including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, care plan development, and patient referrals to specialists. These centers may require FNPs to work night and weekend shifts.

Why Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Like any profession, becoming an FNP has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner

– Autonomous primary care practice
– Opportunities for career advancement into administrative roles
– High earning potential
– Projected employment growth well above the national average

Disadvantages of Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner

– High stress in certain work settings
– Physically demanding work
– Exposure to the risk of illness from patient contact
– A substantial time commitment required for education and experience

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

The journey to becoming an FNP starts with obtaining a Registered Nurse (RN) license and gaining experience. Common paths to RN licensure include earning a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Graduates then need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Career Overview

Many Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs, which is the minimum degree required for nurse practitioner licensure, admit only BSN holders. Students with an ADN can complete RN-to-BSN bridge programs in approximately two years. Admission to MSN programs typically requires 1-2 years of clinical experience as an RN.

Upon graduation from an MSN program, you become eligible for licensure. Some students may choose to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP).

MSN or DNP graduates must take a national examination to obtain FNP certification, which is administered by either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The final step is to apply for an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license from your state board of nursing.

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Make?

According to data from Payscale, FNPs earn an average base salary of $102,107 annually or $53 per hour as of September 2023. Salary levels increase with experience. FNPs with less than a year of experience earn an average of $96,000, while those with 20 or more years of experience earn an average of $112,000.

FNP salaries can also vary based on geographic location, workplace settings, and advancement into managerial roles.

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Nurse Practitioners

Is FNP higher than NP?

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a type of nurse practitioner (NP). According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, family nurse practice is the most popular specialization for NPs, accounting for 65.3% of all NPs.

Is an FNP the same as a doctor?

While family nurse practitioners (FNPs) perform many of the same functions as physicians, they do not hold an M.D. degree. FNPs and doctors both provide primary care services and often collaborate on healthcare teams. However, NPs may serve as the primary care providers in some areas, especially in rural communities.

What is the difference between DNP and FNP?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctorate in nursing practice, while a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is a specific role within the field. Nurses with either a master’s or doctorate degree can become nurse practitioners after obtaining their advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licenses. Some organizations may recognize nurse practitioners with a DNP as having a greater understanding of evidence-based clinical guidelines and their application in practice, positioning them to fill clinical vacancies caused by physician shortages. FNPs provide primary care services and often support physicians, although in some states, they have the autonomy to practice primary care independently.

Where do FNPs make the most money?

The top-paying states for nurse practitioners, including FNPs, are California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Nevada, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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