Chapter 4: Family Nurse Practitioner Salary, Career Paths, and More

As if you didn’t have enough on your plate right now, you’ll also be starting the search for your first FNP position (if you haven’t already begun).

Your FNP certification will open the door to an array of options and opportunities. This chapter will explore what might lie ahead for you, and answer some of the most common questions about the FNP career:

  • How much does a family nurse practitioner make?
  • What kinds of careers can I have with an FNP certification? And how much is a nurse practitioner’s salary in these different careers?
  • How can I find my first FNP job?

As you study for your FNP boards, it helps to keep your focus on the future and remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Let’s dig in.

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Get Paid?

The average family nurse practitioner salary varies slightly depending on the source, but it’s unanimously reported as being over $100,000.

  • AANP’s NP Fact Sheet reports that the median base salary for NPs was $110,000 in 2019.*

  • NurseJournal lists the average nurse practitioner salary in the U.S. at $111,840, with possible variants based on clinical focus and practice setting.

  • Nurse.org notes that the lowest level of wages for a nurse practitioner is an impressive $81,410, about $40,000 more than the average national income. The highest level of average annual income for a nurse practitioner is reported at $152,160, about $80,000 over the average national income.

If you do a quick search for “how much money does a nurse practitioner make per year” you’ll find even more information.

Family Nurse Practitioner Career Options

The FNP certification allows you to choose your own path for the future. There’s truly something for everyone, whether you dream of being your own boss or prefer the stability of joining an established team.

Here are the top three career options and the average family nurse practitioner salary for each path:

  1. Working in a Physician or NP Practice

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of nurse practitioners work in an office setting.

    What are the benefits of working in an office setting?

    With regular hours, a relatively calm setting, and colleagues to work with, working as an FNP in an office setting is an attractive option. This is a great option for FNPs who want a predictable schedule and reliable income.

    What are the drawbacks of working in an office setting?

    If your dream is to be your own boss, working for someone else may not be right for you.

    How much does a nurse practitioner make in an office setting?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual mean wage of $108,930 for NPs working in an office setting.

  2. Opening Your Own Practice

    The power to open a practice on your own is one of the main perks that draws nurses to the FNP specialty.

    What are the benefits of opening your own practice?

    Autonomy is the main benefit. If you prefer to take charge and have the fortitude to handle the demands of the FNP role as well as the business owner role, a private practice is the perfect opportunity. Plus, once business is booming, this is a lucrative career path.

    What are the drawbacks of opening your own practice?

    As you can probably guess, running a business AND serving patients requires long days and a lot of dedication. Along with diagnosing and treating patients, you’ll need to handle bookkeeping, hiring, marketing, taxes, and insurance, etc.

    Seasoned FNP practice owners suggest getting experience elsewhere before opening a practice, so you aren’t adjusting to both the FNP role and business owner role at the same time.

    How much does a nurse practitioner make with their own practice?

    This number depends on the size and success of your practice. With a robust clientele, a family nurse practitioner’s annual salary could be around $177,000 per year (the owner’s share of business revenue after accounting for overhead costs).

  3. Traveling Nurse Practitioners

    After so much spent studying and fulfilling clinical hours, you might have the urge to roam. For the more adventurous family nurse practitioner, traveling from city to city filling temporary FNP openings can be a perfect fit.

    What are the benefits of being a traveling nurse practitioner?

    In addition to your salary, most traveling FNP employers will also cover your housing, travel, and insurance expenses. This is also a great way to sample different kinds of roles, organizations, and areas before you settle down long-term.

    What are the drawbacks of being a traveling nurse practitioner?

    If you dislike change and don’t make new friends easily, this could be a lonely option. You’ll also need to plan ahead to ensure steady income.

    What does a family nurse practitioner make while traveling?

    The average hourly rate of a nurse practitioner filling a travelling role is equivalent to $105,347 per year. You may even be given an extra daily per diem for driving your own vehicle. Housing is also paid, typically directly to the landlord/hotel. Most traveling NPs are not reimbursed for meals, but you can deduct meal costs at tax time. All of this adds up to a very attractive family nurse practitioner salary.

  4. Urgent Care Nurse Practitioners

    Urgent care clinics are a perfect environment for new NPs. As an urgent care NP, you’ll have a chance to hone your routine skills while also treating a variety of injuries and ailments across the lifespan.

    What are the benefits of working as an urgent care NP?

    Urgent care NPs typically work with a rotating group of physicians, medical assistants, and other NPs, exposing you to a variety of methods of practice. Many urgent care NPs also report that this job is often exciting and fast-paced.

    How much do urgent care NPs make?

    Depending on the demand for urgent care NPs in the area and on the amount of experience, the average urgent care NP makes $111,740 per year, or $54 per hour.

  5. Nurse Practitioners in Clinics

    NPs have the flexibility to work in a variety of clinical settings, from specialty clinics such as ENT or physical therapy centers to community health centers that meet the needs of underserved areas.

    How much do NPs make in clinics?

    The salary for an NP working in a clinic varies based on factors like the type of clinic and the competitiveness of the local job market. However, an NP can expect to make around $110,000 in most medical clinic positions.

Finding Employment as a Family Nurse Practitioner

The primary principle of hunting for your first FNP position is this: the more competitive the employment market, the more you need to prepare for the job search.

FNPs are in high demand, and the responsibilities of the profession are increasing. For these reasons, you’ll need to be prepared to locate or create the right position for your strengths and preferences.

Here are some recommendations from our FNP-certified educators:

  • Consider New Locations

    The demand for FNPs is increasing. However, despite the growing job market, some areas are still saturated and highly competitive, while others are vigorously recruiting to fill open positions.

    Being flexible regarding the location in which you’d like to live and work, can open up some excellent opportunities. Look for areas with high demand for NPs that offer valuable benefits such as loan repayment options.

    Working in a high-need area will give you excellent experience as an entry-level FNP, and you’ll be caring for patients who benefit greatly from increased access to quality healthcare.

  • Let Your Expertise Guide You

    The job openings you find while searching through employment websites and job postings are not necessarily the only jobs available.

    Look for areas within healthcare organizations that could benefit from your unique skills. Approach the owner of the practice or the medical director with your observations and solutions, and you may have just created your dream job.

    For example, one NP who worked in pediatric asthma came up with a business plan, pitched her concept to the hospital administration, and an NP-run pediatric asthma clinic was born.

    Another FNP identified a gap in home care for urology patients and started his own practice specializing in that area, with the support of the urologists, who were happy to have someone provide care in areas they could not serve. The possibilities are endless!

  • Connect and Network

    Membership in state and national NP associations, such as AANP or ANCC, is vital for FNPs.* Aside from high-quality career development and resources, these memberships are also a networking opportunity.

    Getting involved with an NP organization as a board or committee member is a great way to meet other NPs and find opportunities.

    In addition, reach out to NPs, PAs, and MDs you worked with in the past to update them on your new credentials, and let them know that you’re looking for FNP employment. Staying connected helps you find new opportunities and helps your colleagues fill roles with qualified staff.

    Another area to network is online. Professional networks like LinkedIn are an excellent tool to connect with others and demonstrate your expertise. Keep your profile updated, post new research that interests you, and share your insights. You may be surprised at who finds your profile and reaches out with a job opportunity!

Finding the perfect first FNP role for you is both challenging and exciting. Stay positive and keep your eyes on your bright future.

*AANP is often used as shorthand for AANPCB (the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board).