How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner in the US

If nursing people when they’re sick is your passion, you can turn it into a profession by becoming a nursing practitioner. The job profile diagnoses and treats the patients with their illnesses. So, they specialize in fields such as pediatrics or mental health. The prime task of a nurse practitioner is to treat others with knowledge on methods to prevent the illness before seeking the cure. Here is a complete guide on the entire course of how to become a nurse practitioner.
If your interest lies in pursuing a career in the medical field, you can also read our guide:-

How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

The ideal time that it takes to become a nurse  in the US is 6-8 years. The foremost degree to complete is a 4 year’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The prime purpose is to prepare the aspirants in becoming a nurse practitioner. To pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, one must gain a Nurse Practitioner Degree of 2-4 years

What Types of Nurse Practitioner Degrees Exist?

Whether already a registered nurse (R.N.) or starting an education, a degree is a key aspect of becoming a nurse practitioner (N.P.). Below are some of the degrees available.

Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.)

This nursing diploma only takes a year to earn after high school and can be an important step in becoming a nurse practitioner.

Associate Degree in Nursing (A.D.N.)

This two-year degree focuses on technical nursing skills, along with core math, science, and English classes.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)

Four years of study is the need for this bachelor level degree and includes two years of basic classes and two more in nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.)

A graduate degree is one of the more common choices for nurse practitioners. It takes two years to earn post the completion of the bachelor’s degree.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)

Another graduate degree, advanced studies, include the clinical aspects of nursing in more detail.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D. in Nursing)

Like the above, this degree focuses on the more academic and teaching areas of nursing.
Becoming a nurse practitioner involves earning an accredited degree, usually at the masters or higher level. Those who already have nursing degrees can also return to school for an M.S.N. or similar degree. Many schools offer L.V.N. to R.N., A.D.N. to B.S.N., and B.S.N. to M.S.N. programs along with everything between. If you are already a nurse, take advantage of what you have already learned to get credit for the degree, you need to become a nurse practitioner.  You can also read a similar career guide on how to become a physical therapist

Where Can I Find Nurse Practitioner Degree Rankings?

There are three common degrees to becoming a registered nurse, which is necessary when becoming a nurse practitioner. They include the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (A.D.N.), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), and Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.). If you’re looking for a career in nursing, the most important thing to learn about a school is its accreditation. The easiest way to do so is to visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Several agencies accredit nurse practitioner degrees and programs on their own. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is one of them. With 25 years of experience, they have a special section for nurses pursuing continuing education. They even list approved online activities, many of which also offer pharmacology credit. They also have independent study programs and other nursing tools.
Other accrediting agencies include the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Anyone from R.N.’s to nurse practitioners can visit to check out the recognized Magnet programs and the Pathway to Excellence. Students can also visit the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. You can search for an accredited nursing program by state or even country. You can also narrow the results to everything from a practical nursing degree to a doctorate.
Because each state has its regulations about nurse practitioners, so assure the recognition of your school. This includes the exam to become a registered nurse, a proper degree, and an advanced training program.

Can I Transfer Nurse Practitioner Degree Credits?

If you are a nurse or have some college courses completed, transfer credits are essential to cut down on tuition costs, as well as time spent studying. Transfer credits allow the student to get credit for classes taken and passed, such as the basics in math, science, and history. This is a common practice when switching schools, majors, and using past education to become a nurse practitioner.
As accreditation is key to any degree, the school at national level may not accept or give out transfer credits to schools at the regional level . Transfer credits are so essential, learn as soon as possible if, how many, and what classes you can transfer from your current or future school.

How to Bypass Transfer Credit Requirements?

To is to already have a degree in nursing. There are tons of programs designed to turn L.P.N. to R.N., R.N.’s to A.D.N.’s, A.D.N.’s to B.S.N.’s, and B.S.N.’s to M.S.N.’s. To become a nurse practitioner, it usually takes one undergraduate degree and then a master’s or doctorate.
But, if you are already a nurse in some sort of capacity, your current degree can apply to a future one more than transfer credits depending on the school. For example, nurses with an associate’s degree can begin studies at the bachelor’s level and earn it in only two years. Likewise, nurses with a B.S.N. can get an M.S.N. in two years or less, depending on the school. Even if your degree is not in nursing, you can still get credit for core classes such as math, history, and apply them to your studies as a nurse practitioner.

What Career Can I Get With a Nurse Practitioner Degree?

Although “nurse practitioner” is the most thought of profession, there are also other careers with this advanced degree too.

Registered Nurse

Even if going straight from high school to a nurse practitioner, you can seek a job as a registered nurse license. A registered nurse is a job profile that come before becoming a nurse practitioner.

Family Nurse Practitioner

This type of nurse does not practice general medicine, including the diagnosis of diseases.

Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner

This N.P. Works with infants and children of all ages.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

These nurse practitioners perform similar tasks as OB/GYN and focus on medicine for women.

Certified Nurse Midwife

This advanced practice nurse has more training focused on delivering babies and providing prenatal and postpartum care to women.

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner

Along with the basics of nurse practitioners, this N.P. can specialize in many areas of medicine, including anesthesia, geriatrics, and more.

Clinical Nurse Manager

Manage the more administrative aspects of nursing in this career.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Like the above, the career involves getting an advanced nursing degree and organizing services and resources to control costs.

Director of Nursing

Head up an entire nursing department in this career. A graduate degree is usually the standard, along with years of experience.
There are many specialty aspects to becoming a nurse practitioner including cardiovascular. With both a nursing shortage and longer waiting lists for doctors, nurse practitioners are in more demand. They can often replace doctors when performing tasks such as physicals, diagnosis of common ailments, etc. Read a similar career guide on becoming a psychiatrist in the US.

How Do I Become a Nurse Practitioner?

The first step to becoming a nurse practitioner is a degree. If coming out of high school, the typical time it takes to earn an advanced nursing degree is six years. Generally, one requires undergraduate degree before a Master of Science Nursing.
There are also many other programs for about any education level. For example, the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs for ones holding a bachelor’s degree in another field. These completion year for both and can even give the student both a B.S.N. and M.S.N. depending on the school. There are also accelerated Master of Science in Nursing Programs including pediatrics.
While studying for an M.S.N. or other advanced degree for nurse practitioners to get a nursing license. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, students must graduate from an approved nursing program. They also have to pass a national licensing examination known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. The test includes the knowledge of entry-level nurses and is a vital part of getting a nursing license.
On obtaining the license a registered nurse is usually the starting position. One can specialize and earn a degree of while holding a job as an R.N too. If you want to become a nurse practitioner in fields such as management and administration, a graduate degree is standard. A nurse practitioner who practices more traditional aspects of medicine needs a master’s degree or higher, as per the state. and can work in hospitals, clinics, or even start their practice.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

To become a registered nurse in the US, there are two qualification that an aspirant has to take up.

1). Associate Degree in Nursing

An associate degree in nursing takes about two to four years to complete, including your career as a trainee at a community college or a nursing school.

2). Bacherlor’s Degree in Nursing

A bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years to complete.

Post that, you’ll need to know “how long does it take to become a medical assistant”. To that, becoming a medical assistant in the US takes 9 months to 3 years.

What is the Average Salary for a Nurse Practitioner?

Before becoming a nurse practitioner, many spend time as registered nurses. The average annual salary of an R.N., according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, was $62,450 in May of 2008. The best-paying employers for registered nurses were employment services and hospitals at $68,160 and $63,880 for each. The lowest paying employer for the same year was nursing care facilities at $57,060.
According to, as per the area of practice, years of experience, the average salary for nurse practitioner is $80,280, . This includes any bonuses and profit-sharing involved. When factoring in education, those who earned the most were N.P.’s who held a Master of Science in Nursing with an average annual salary of $78,170. Nurse practitioners who had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing had a yearly median pay of $72,727 according to the same site.
The type of nurse practitioner career also affects pay. According to, pediatrics nurse practitioners earn the least with an average annual salary of $73,099. In the middle of the pack are family nurse practitioners, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse managers. They had annual average salaries of $74,608, $78,630, $82,015, etc.
The type of employer also has an impact on the salary for nurse practitioners. lists the salary of several N.P.’s and shows that a few can even break the six-figure mark. Three of the best paying careers included the nurse practitioners of a correctional facility at $121,000, a hospitalist nurse practitioner at $115,000, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner at $104,000.

Where Can I Find Nurse Practitioner Scholarships?

Because becoming a nurse practitioner often involves a graduate degree, paying for school can be scary. But, there are many opportunities to help fund your education, and we have listed a few below.


Fill this form out as early as possible to get all the information on federal funding for your education.

Nursing World

Part of the American Nurses Association, they offer free membership to nursing students. By sending in your name, school, and current year, you can get free access to many of their resources, including scholarships.

C.N.S. Foundation Scholarships

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists offers these scholarships. Other resources for students include a career center and items for teachers.

AANP Foundation Scholarship Program

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers scholarships to both M.S.N. students and for N.P practitioner.


Sign up for an account to seek a connection to over $19 billion of scholarships for every kind of student, including nurse practitioners.

Fast Web

Like the above, over 50 million people have signed up to learn more about scholarships, grants, and other ways of paying for school.

Discover Nursing

Get the nursing scholarships on this site. You can also select by state, grade point average, and education level.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship

To eligibility for this scholarship requires students to seek selection in an accredited program for NPs. Those awarded scholarships have the role to serve at an approved site for one year for each year of support.

AACN Scholarships and Financial Aid

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing lists several scholarships. They include for after college, nurse educators, and even minorities.

What are the Funds Given by the Government in the U.S.?

And scholarships are not the only form of funding available for those seeking a degree as a nurse practitioner. Grants are also given out by the federal, state, and local governments to students that have demonstrated need. By filling out the FAFSA, you can see which type of federal grant(s) you are eligible for. The state, city, and even county you live in might also award grants, and the best way to search. The application for the scholarship is by contacting the financial aid office of your school.
Student loans can bep put to use for the school payment. But, much like any other kind of loan, they need to get paid back. Terms for a student loan usually include money awarded upfront after submission and approval of an application. But, the payments not starting until after graduation, and a low-interest rate. Be sure and research all aspects of paying for a degree before committing to a loan.
One of the best ways to pay for a nursing degree is to see if your employer offers incentives to becoming a nurse practitioner. Because they are so in demand, a nurse practitioner currently working as an R.N. or other nurse can have part or all their education paid for by an employer under the right circumstances. It can also be an essential question to ask before taking a nursing position. Also read our guide on how to become a pharmacist that’d take you to the same medical field. 

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