Family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a popular career pathway in nursing, part of the broader professional categories of nurse practitioner (NP) and advanced practice nursing. Often, becoming an FNP means handling greater job responsibilities, benefiting from more autonomy and possibly earning a bigger salary.
Many nurses who consider taking their careers to the next level often ask, “How much does a nurse practitioner make?” While salaries range, FNPs can expect to earn a six-figure annual average salary, depending on where they work geographically, what type of establishment they work in (hospital versus private practice, for example) and what they specialize in.
Other deciding factors in FNP salary are years of experience and level of education. Because NPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), these professionals need at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become a family nurse practitioner. If you have a bachelor’s in nursing and are a registered nurse, completing an MSN-FNP program can put you on the fast track to building advanced skills, becoming a leader and earning a higher salary in as few as three years.
Here’s what you need to know about average salaries for FNPs, as well as specifics about the role.
What are the reported salaries for FNPs?
While the average FNP salary varies from source to source, nationally, salaries average around $105,000 in 2019, according to PayScale. On the high side, job site Glassdoor.com said the average annual salary for an FNP was $117,292 in 2019. On the lower end, PayScale.com said the average FNP annual salary in the United States was $93,027 in 2019.
But salary is only part of total compensation. Glassdoor.com reported that additional cash compensation (which includes bonuses, commission and profit sharing) in 2019 averaged just over $5,000 for FNPs. PayScale estimated even higher earning ability in additional compensation. On average, FNPs nationally in 2019 could earn:
- $4,978 in bonuses
- $9,826 in commissions
- $3,973 in profit sharing
The more years of experience an FNP has, the more likely their base salary is higher than the national average. Employers like hospitals, outpatient clinics, community health centers and local government seek those with advanced nursing skills. This expertise can also be used to join private practice or open an independent office. FNPs in the late stage of their careers earned 8% more, according to PayScale. Opportunities for bonuses, commissions and profit sharing often increase with experience.
What does the average NP earn?
Getting clarity into the salary picture for FNPs is possible when looking at average nurse practitioner salaries. Generally, reported salaries for FNPs provide the bulk of data, but more official sources of salary information are available for nurse practitioners, such as from the government and within the nursing industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018, nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $107,303 a year. Considering the BLS also expects nurse practitioner employment to increase 28% between 2018 and 2028 (by 242,000 positions), there’s a sizable job market for nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) found in its 2017 national nurse compensation survey Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey that the average base salary for full-time NPs, regardless of certification, was $105,546. The mean total compensation for NPs including income from bonuses, commissions and profit sharing was $112,923.
Salary trends were positive for all NP specializatons, and the AANP reported the base salary for the FNP certification specifically had grown 18 percent from 2015 to 2017. Demand for FNPs and cost of living both contribute to the salary growth, which is in line with positive employment trends for both the overall health care industry and nursing profession.
Where can FNPs earn the most?
Geography is an important factor in FNP salary, as some states have higher employment demand for these nurses and offer better wage-earning opportunities. According to BLS data from 2016, the last year available, the top five states with the highest level of NP employment were:
- New York
However, the top-paying states for nurse practitioners were:
- New Jersey
The scarcity of nursing practitioner talent in Alaska and Hawaii lead to higher wages, while California, Massachusetts and New Jersey all have multiple metropolitan areas where demand increases potential earnings.
The BLS data and trends track largely with reported salaries for FNPs found on ZipRecruiter.com. The five states with the highest average annual FNP salary in 2019 were:
- New York, $113,994
- Massachusetts, $113,160
- New Hampshire, $111,214
- Maryland, $106,232
- Connecticut, $105,825
Hawaii and California were also included in the top 10. According to BLS numbers, nurse practitioners in certain California metropolitan areas could earn between $130,000 and $158,000 — like in the San Francisco metro area in 2016. Overall, the top-paying regions for NPs were along the border of Texas and Mexico, Northern New Hampshire and the Southeast.
What work settings have the highest average salaries?
FNPs provide services that are highly valued in care settings, which results in diverse career opportunities in terms of where nurses can work. APRNs and NPs, in general, are commonly employed in hospitals, community health systems, outpatient care centers, physicians offices, academia, education, and local and state government.
Average salaries for APRNs vary according to where they work, with BLS data finding APRN salaries in 2018 reached:
- $120,540 in hospitals (state, local and private)
- $115,720 in outpatient care centers
- $112,740 in offices of other health practitioners
- $111,440 in offices of physicians
- $104,310 in education services (state, local and private)
Other work settings that employ FNPs include hospices, long-term care and nursing facilities, rural health clinics, private residences, nursing departments and schools.
What do FNPs do?
Having examined the average salaries for the FNP position, it’s important to consider how registered nurses can advance their careers to such a stage. This begins with understanding what family nurse practitioners do that allows them to earn more.
The job duties of the FNP closely align with those of the generalized nurse practitioner. According to the AANP, NPs provide a range of care and health services, including, but not limited to:
- Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests (blood lab work or X-rays)
- Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and injuries
- Prescribing medications and other treatments
- Managing patients’ overall care
- Counseling patients and their families
- Educating patients on prevention and positive lifestyle choices
To understand what FNPs do on a day-to-day basis, consider these NP responsibilities in the context of caring for the family. FNPs provide these health and care services throughout the family life span, working with expecting parents, new parents, young children, adolescents, young adults, parents in middle age, and retiring couples and their adult children. FNPs provide the full scope of NP services to each of these patient categories, and often collaborate with other health professionals and APRNs, like certified nurse midwives, to develop and deliver treatments.
A key aspect of working as an FNP (and an NP in general) is professional autonomy. While laws vary across the nation, many states allow experienced NPs to practice without the supervision of a physician, which is required for registered nurses.
Full practice authority is the ability for experienced NPs to evaluate and diagnose patients, order and interpret tests, and initiate and manage medications under the authority of a state nursing board. Currently, 22 states extend full practice authority to NPs, while the rest restrict or reduce practice authority scope. Being a certified FNP in a state that allows full practice authority can open opportunities to starting your own practice and business, which can increase earning potential.
What skills does an FNP need?
Given the wide variety in job responsibilities — as well as client demographic diversity — FNPs need a broad set of skills and competencies to be able to practice and earn certification. Commonly, these requirements include:
- Knowledge of advanced nursing theory, patient-centered care and evidence-based practice
- Clinical experience
- A strong grasp of advanced health assessment, pharmacology and pathophysiology
- Leadership qualities to act in autonomous and high-level APRN positions
- Interpersonal skills needed for collaborating with other health professionals
- Specialization with family-centric topics like women’s health, gerontology and immunization
How to get an MSN
To build the necessary skills necessary for APRN practice and certification, nurses need a Master of Science in Nursing. Finding the right MSN program is important to getting the most of your education and advancing your career.
Master’s programs are offered across the United States, and typically allow students to choose between two learning formats: on campus and online. While most are familiar with on-campus options, online MSN programs allow nursing students to complete their studies almost entirely online. Some may require that students complete residences or clinical hours on campus.
Graduate programs can take between two and four years, depending on the program structure. For instance, program tracks like Bradley’s MSN-FNP allow students to enter with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and graduate in as few as three years fully prepared to take FNP certification exams. Or, students with an associate degree or non-nursing bachelor’s can enter the program and take bridge courses that allow them to complete their degrees in just under four years (Bradley offers this RN to MSN-FNP track as well).
What does an MSN-FNP curriculum look like?
While the curriculum of a program will vary according to the institution and the track, students can generally expect an FNP education to include courses on topics like:
- Principles of FNP practice, which covers subjects including infants and children, acute and chronic conditions in adults, women’s health and aging patient populations
- Statistical procedures and research methodology
- Health care informatics, which introduces students to the role of data, management of informatics systems, security and privacy, modern technologies and how they all impact the delivery of care
- Leadership in health care, as well as insight into organizational management and health care policy
Another component of MSN-FNP programs to consider is the requirement for experiential learning. In the Bradley program, for instance, students are required to complete five health care practicums, allowing them to put their knowledge and theory into practice, gain experience and accrue clinical hours. These practicums place students in diverse care settings so they become familiar with the varied job responsibilities of an FNP. Other programs may require residencies or internships to satisfy experiential learning needs.
Earn your master’s at Bradley
When researching master’s programs in pursuit of a career as an FNP, consider the Bradley MSN-FNP, which is offered 100% online and prepares students for certification upon graduation. You can learn from an experienced nursing faculty about all the core competencies of the family nurse practitioner when your working and personal lives allow, and from your own personal device.
Bradley offers two entry options to the MSN-FNP program:
- RN to MSN-FNP, which entails 74 credit hours, 11 semesters and 800 clinical hours, taking around 3.6 years
- BSN to MSN-FNP, which entails 65 credit hours, 9 semesters and 750 clinical hours, taking around three years
Students of the MSN-FNP program can choose their own preceptors and complete clinical hours locally at university-approved locations, further improving convenience and the overall learning experience.
Want to learn more about becoming an FNP and the Bradley program? Contact an enrollment adviser today for more information.