Group of nurse practitioners smiling for the camera

Nurse Practitioners by the Numbers

By Freddie Rohner, iHire | November 26, 2019

The role of nurse practitioner (NP) has its roots in the shortage of qualified healthcare service providers that took place in the mid-1960s. By the early 1970s, the federal government began allocating funds to increase NP training across the US and soon more than 500 certificate programs were established to prepare nurses for primary care positions. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, NPs were practicing in every state and currently there are more than 270K NPs licensed in the US.

These healthcare professionals work in a number of different settings, and the demand for NPs is increasing at a steady pace. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the numbers behind this role that has gone from obscurity to ubiquity in less than 50 years. This data was collected by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in 2018.

  • The average NP is 49 years old, has been practicing for 10 years, and has a full-time base salary of $105,903 as of 2018.
  • 99.1% of NPs have graduate degrees and 96.8% hold national certification.
  • NPs have prescriptive privileges in all 50 states (and Washington, DC). 95.7% prescribe medications and NPs in full-time practice write an average of 20 prescriptions per day.
  • 87.1% are certified in an area of primary care, such as adult, family, gerontology, pediatric, and women’s health.
  • The top five primary specialties among NPs are family (66.9%), adult (18.0%), acute care (7.9%), pediatric (4.0%), and women’s health (2.7%).

As an occupation with a high median wage and a job outlook that is significantly above average (26% estimated growth from 2018 to 2028), NPs have a bright future. However, the fact that this role requires a graduate degree as well as previous healthcare experience may be prohibitive for some, and the extended hours and dedication to patient health are not for everyone. If you are considering long-term career options and think becoming an NP may be right for you, research opportunities in your area and contact nearby schools to learn more about their individual training programs.


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