FNP Salary and Job Outlook

An FNP examines a young patient.It’s getting harder for a parent or a child to see a doctor.

  • In 2022, the U.S. needed an additional 17,067 primary care physicians to reach adequate levels of care nationwide, according to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).
  • By 2034, that shortage could increase to 48,000, projects the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

However, families have an alternative for primary care: family nurse practitioners (FNPs). They already fill part of the gap, and they’re projected to fill more of it in the future.

FNPs are primary caregivers who can provide many of the same kinds of care as family doctors. Because of the urgent and increasing need, both FNP salaries and the FNP job outlook are well above those for the average occupation.

FNP Salaries and FNP Job Outlook

Nurse practitioners (NPs) already have a substantial role in U.S. medicine, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • In 2021, the U.S. had 246,700 NPs.
  • They earned a median annual pay of $120,680.

By 2031, NPs will fill another 112,700 positions, forecasts the BLS. That’s growth of 46%. By comparison, over the same period, all occupations will grow only 5%.

Although NPs work in a wide variety of medical specialties, the vast majority are FNPs. Surveys by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) show that 70% of NPs are certified for family care.

What Is an FNP?

FNPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who specialize in family care. They treat patients of all ages, from infants to seniors.

Like physicians, FNPs diagnose and treat diseases, but they often focus on an added dimension of health: holistic care. They provide services in preventing disease and promoting wellness.

Other AANP statistics round out the picture of what an FNP is and what an FNP does.

  • Average years of experience:8
  • Top settings: Hospital outpatient clinics (14.3%), private group practices (10.4%), and private physician practices (10.0%)
  • Most common diagnoses treated: Abdominal pain, anxiety, and urinary tract infections

Role of FNP

What makes FNPs so valuable for primary care is their ability, in many instances, to take the place of physicians. Regulations dictating the scope of practice for nurse practitioners vary by state, but whether working independently or under a physician’s guidance, FNPs fill wide and varied roles.

Medical Records

FNPs create and maintain patient records. They document what was done during a visit, including data such as vital signs, symptoms, medical history, medications being taken, and diagnoses and treatments.


After recording a patient’s history and symptoms, the next step is a physical exam. It can range from a limited exam for a specific complaint to a head-to-toe assessment, checking all major bodily systems.


FNPs differ from registered nurses (RNs) in that they can order diagnostic tests and make diagnoses. In most states, they can do so on their own, but 11 states require physician oversight.


Unlike an RN, an FNP can create treatment plans and provide treatment for acute and chronic illnesses, conditions, and injuries. Eleven states require that FNPs administer treatment in consultation with a physician.


Another difference from RNs is that FNPs can write prescriptions. They have independent prescribing authority in 24 states. In other states, their prescriptions need a physician’s approval.

How to Become an FNP

Students wondering how to become an FNP should be aware that the first step is becoming an RN. According to AANP, the path to becoming an FNP typically comprises four stages.

1. Bachelor’s Degree

Most aspiring FNPs get a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before becoming RNs. It’s possible to become an RN with only a two-year degree, but a BSN offers both higher income potential and better job opportunities.

2. RN Practice

After earning a BSN, a student completes two further steps to become an RN:

  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers this exam, which tests knowledge and critical thinking skills related to nursing.
  • Being licensed by the state in which they plan to begin their practice. Once licensed in one state, an RN can practice in most other states.

An RN can examine patients and administer many kinds of care under a physician’s supervision. To perform other duties, such as diagnosis, treatment, and prescription, an RN must complete further education and certification to become an NP.

3. Graduate Degree

To become an FNP — or any other kind of NP — a candidate must get at least a year of work experience as an RN, and then earn an advanced practice nursing degree, such as:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), oriented toward medical care
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), combining medical care with leadership and administrative skills

Some graduate programs are designed to accelerate a student through the process. For example, a BSN to DNP program can bypass an MSN and lead directly to a DNP.

4. FNP Certification and Licensing

After earning a graduate degree, an FNP candidate must pass a certification exam administered by one of two organizations: the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Once certified, the final step is to become licensed in at least one state. To maintain a license, an FNP will periodically need to renew the certification.

Learn More About Becoming an FNP

As American families’ needs for health care increase, so do FNP demand and FNP salaries. An online accelerated degree program like Hawai‘i Pacific University’s online BSN to DNP-FNP can prepare a student to become an FNP in as little as 34 to 44 months.

The program allows a student to take classes from any location while continuing to work as an RN. The curriculum combines topics such as pharmacology, research, and diagnosis with more than 500 clinical hours. Learn more about how the program can help you pursue a rewarding career as an FNP.

Recommended Readings

FNP-BC vs. FNP-C: Certification Differences

How Family Nurse Practitioners Can Play a Major Role in Addressing the Growing Physician Shortage in the U.S.

How Long Are BSN to DNP Programs?


American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, All About NPs

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Are You Considering a Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner?

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Findings From 2020 Survey Show Nurse Practitioners (NPs) Continue to Provide Quality Health Care During the Pandemic

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NP Fact Sheet

American Nurses Association, What Is Nursing?

American Nurses Credentialing Center, Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

Association of American Medical Colleges, AAMC Report Reinforces Mounting Physician Shortage

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, About the NCLEX

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, Health Workforce Shortage Areas