Education Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are responsible for taking care of patients in a variety of specialized settings. Nurse practitioners must generally obtain at least a master’s degree, and must be both nationally registered nurses and certified nurse practitioners.

Education Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

Education Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

Education Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner (NP) provides primary care to patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. He or she is responsible for recording and analyzing a patient’s history, performing physical exams, ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing physical therapy and other similar tasks. Nurse Practitioner education requirements to enter the career can vary slightly depending on the specialty, but at least a master’s degree education is necessary. Some of the potential care specialties of a NP include:

  • Pediatric
  • Family
  • Adult
  • Geriatric
  • Women’s health
  • Neonatal
  • Acute
  • Occupational health

Master of Science in Nursing

These education programs take 2-3 years to complete. They focus on providing students with the skills necessary to enter professional health settings as nurse practitioners. Graduates are eligible to seek professional certification. Common courses include:

  • Health promotion
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing theories

Doctor of Nursing Practice

While completing a Master of Science in Nursing is generally enough to enter the profession, students may opt to complete a doctoral degree program to further enhance their career opportunities and expertise. Programs teach advanced practices in order to better meet patient needs. They can also qualify graduates to become teachers in nursing. Common courses include:

  • Population health
  • Leadership
  • Behavior complexity
  • Capstone project


Obtaining licensure as a registered nurse through the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), is required for all nurse practitioners. This is a post-undergraduate prerequisite to becoming an RN, which is a prerequisite to becoming a NP. Passing the NCLEX-RN proves that RNs have the necessary skills to work in the field.

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Nurse Practitioner Credentialing

After completing master’s degree programs, graduates are eligible to obtain professional certification as NPs. Nurse practitioner programs normally focus on one specialty area of nursing and graduates generally choose to seek certification in the same specialty. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center are two credentialing bodies that offer certifications in nursing. These certifications must be renewed every five years in order to continue development within the profession.

NP salary infomation and career outlook

According to the BLS, as of May 2013, Nurse Practitioners in the U.S. earned a mean annual wage of $95,070, with the lowest-paid 10 percent nationally earning an annual wage of $66,960 or less, and the highest-paid 10 percent nationally earning an annual wage of $126,250 or less.

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Nurse Practitioners exam practice test

Along with useful information, you can also review, evaluate your skills, knowledge and strength to get ready for your important career exam, by implementing the practice tests below that we have introduced:

 Next: Nurse Practitioner degree program overviews

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