Is a nurse practitioner program the next step for your healthcare career? If you're a registered nurse (RN) who is in search of a challenge or ready to advance their career, take a look at what you need to know about nurse practitioner (NP) specialties and degrees.
What Does the Job Market Look Like?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioner (including nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and general nurse practitioners) jobs are projected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 45 percent between 2019 and 2029. This equals the addition of 117,700 jobs in one decade.
Do Jobs In This Field Pay Well?
The specific salary you can make as an NP varies by geographic region/economy, place of employment, and job title. But this level of professional nursing practice typically pays better than what an RN or other similar-level healthcare professional makes. The median pay in 2020 for an NP was $117,670 annually or $56.57 per hour, according to the BLS.
Do You Need to Go Back to School?
Nurse practitioner jobs require specialized sets of skills and extensive medical knowledge. To work as an NP, you will need at least a master's degree. Some NPs (depending on the job title and employment requirements) may need a doctorate.
If you don't already have an RN, you will need to start from the beginning. While there are diploma and associate's degree programs that can lead to an RN, you may want to seriously explore bachelor's of science in nursing (or BSN) programs. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for a master's or other graduate-level nursing programs.
Some graduate programs include extra courses that help to bridge the bachelor's and master's levels. These allow students who don't have a BSN to earn credits towards an NP degree.
Where Can You Get a Degree?
Universities offer NP master's degree programs across the country and online. If you already have a job or have other time commitments (such as caring for children), a family nurse practitioner online program or similar distance learning/cyber degree are options to explore. Web-based NP programs provide the flexibility you need to get a higher degree on your own schedule.
To learn more about a family nurse practitioner program, midwife degree, or other NP advanced practice master's or doctoral-level degree, talk to the admissions staff at your potential future school. You may need to look at a few different programs before you find one that meets your educational, career, and work-life balance needs.