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CAREER GUIDE MSN—Family Nurse Practitioner

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Career guide: family nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with specialized educational and clinical training in family practice. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are rapidly becoming the healthcare providers of choice for millions of Americans. Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to deliver family-focused healthcare. FNPs offer a wide range of services that impact families, including preventative health, disease prevention, direct care, and counseling for all ages. FNPs manage family wellness in a primary care setting and are considered expert clinicians capable of implementing a holistic approach to the management of healthcare needs for clients. The FNP performs physical exams, interpret x-rays, prescribes medications, and treats various conditions. And the demand for FNPs is growing. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 166,280 nurse practitioners were active in a practice setting in 2017. These practitioners provide more than 870 million patient visits annually. The impacts of these visits on the population are profound, as these patients experience fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays, report high patient satisfaction, have lower out-of-pocket costs for care, and receive high-quality, safe healthcare. 

Job listing growth 2018–2028.

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Career opportunities.

As the healthcare field grows, so will the need for qualified professionals. Many people dream of working in healthcare, but aren't interested in putting the time and money into medical school. For people in this situation, a career as a family nurse practitioner could be ideal. As an FNP you will work directly with patients, just like a primary care physician. You help patients through disease management, health and wellness programs, minor acute injuries, and more. Becoming a family nurse practitioner can prepare you for career opportunities in a variety of locations, including:

Work environment.

  • Physicians' offices 
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers 
  • State and local educational services sites
  • Health practitioners specialty offices
“I became a nurse and a mom within the same year at the age of 23. I thought about getting my master’s but thought I didn't have time. I found WGU and thought, ‘Maybe this will work.’ I've been able to not only get my master's degree, but also build a foundation that will make it a little bit easier for me to go back for my nurse practitioner’s license." Jennifer Evans
MSN – Leadership and Management

Job market forecast.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expected the demand for nurse practitioners to far outpace the average of all occupations. Increasing demand for healthcare, an aging U.S. population, and continued emphasis on preventative healthcare will all contribute to job growth potential. Employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2028. 

In April 2018, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced that they expect a shortage of more than 120,000 doctors by 2030. It is clear that schools of medicine alone will not meet the future demands for primary healthcare providers. The demand for other providers, especially the nurse practitioner, will continue to increase to meet the rising demand for primary care visits.


Job growth 2018–2028.

Work environment.

FNPs work in a broad range of environments, from hospitals and physicians’ offices to nursing and residential care facilities. As a family nurse practitioner, you'll be prepared to provide services including preventative health, disease prevention, direct care, and counseling for all ages. FNPs can expect to work unique schedules, sometimes being on-call for weekends, later hours, or holidays. Some FNPs are able to work part-time or reduced hours, though many work full-time.

Professional organizations.

There are several organizations that can help you prepare for a future as an FNP. Check out these links to learn more about this exciting field and how an advanced degree can help you prepare for your next career move.

Job search resources.

FNPs are in demand. Take the pulse of the marketplace in your area, then make plans to advance your professional credentials through an accredited MSN degree program.

Salary stats.

The median annual wage for family nurse practitioners was $107,030 in May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, with nurse practitioners who work in hospitals earning top salaries (where they may work some nights, weekends, and holidays). The top paying states for nurse practitioners include California, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

Average salary of jobs with related titles.


With the healthcare industry booming, nursing professionals with specialized training and clinical experience in family practice are an integral part of the healthcare picture. Family practice is a field experiencing tremendous growth, offering huge career opportunities for RNs seeking new challenges and opportunities for advancement. Whether you choose to work in a physician's office or a hospital, a Family Nurse Practitioner degree from an accredited university can prepare you to be a difference-maker in your community.

Next Start Date

Jan 1

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!


Your career’s next step: Earn a degree.

Ready to take your nursing degree to the next level? The next step could be earning your Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Accredited, competency-based WGU offers this degree online for at a surprisingly affordable flat-rate tuition. Flexible enough for a working adult’s schedule with the option to accelerate, your degree may be closer than you think!