Also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners may offer primary or specialty medical care to patients. These professionals may work independently or collaborate with doctors. The duties of nurse practitioners typically include:
Taking medical histories and documenting symptoms
Diagnosing illnesses and injuries
Administering medication and treatment
Performing and ordering diagnostic tests and evaluating the results
Operating medical equipment
Educating patients on living healthy lifestyles and managing their illnesses
Nurse practitioners may work in doctor's offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, nursing homes and academic settings. Related occupations include doctor and nurse jobs.
Nurse Practitioner Job Education Requirements
The education requisite for nurse practitioner careers is similar to what is required for physician assistant jobs. Nurse practitioners must earn a master's degree from an accredited program, obtain a nursing license and pass a national certification exam. While not necessary for all APRN programs, a bachelor's degree in nursing is strongly preferred. Some programs also require applicants to have clinical experience. In most states, once nurse practitioners graduate from an accredited program, they must obtain a secondary license related to one of the APRN roles and a specific population (e.g., pediatric health or psychiatric health).
Nurse Practitioner Job Market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of nurse practitioner jobs will grow by 31 percent in the next 10 years, which is significantly faster than the national average for all occupations. Currently, there are 113,370 nurse practitioner positions in the U.S. Of those jobs, 47 percent are in doctor's offices, 28 percent in hospitals, 6 percent in outpatient care centers, 4 percent in academic settings and 3 percent in the offices of other healthcare providers.
An aging population, increased focus on prevention and millions of newly insured patients will drive growth in the sector. A widespread shortage of doctors will also increase demand for alternative providers like APRNs. Additionally, many states are revisiting their APRN laws to expand nurse practitioners' scope of practice.
Nurse Practitioner Job Salary Information
According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for nurse practitioners in 2013 was $95,070. The highest-earning 10 percent of APRNs made $126,250, while the lowest-earning 10 percent made $66,960. Nurse practitioners working in personal care services had the highest average salaries, earning $117,300, while those working for colleges, universities and professional schools had the lowest average salaries, earning $87,610. Alaska, California and Oregon are the highest-paying states for this profession.