How To Become An APRN? Step-by-Step Guide For Nurses

Mari Estefani Carvajal

Mari Estefani Carvajal

Content Writer At Gradehacker

What are the steps to being an APRN?

If you are a nursing graduate and want to take your career to the next level to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you need to:

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Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) play a crucial role in the United States health system. They are registered nurses who have received advanced education at the master’s or post-master’s level and specialize in a specific role and patient population.

APRNs are health care providers who are trained through education and certification in medical care to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patient issues, as well as to request diagnostic tests and write prescriptions.

To become one requires a specific educational path and meeting certain criteria, but don’t worry.

Here at Gradehacker, the most trusted resource for non-traditional students, we’ve listed everything you need to know to become an APRN and leave you with no doubts!

What Are The Types of APRNs?

According to  Nurse.org, there are four types of APRNs, each specializing in a specific area of healthcare. The kinds of APRN nursing programs include:

1. Nurse Practitioners:

Nurse Practitioner is one of the most common APRN degrees.

Their responsibilities are providing health care services like examining patients, requesting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, diagnosing illnesses, and providing treatment.

2. Certified Nurse Midwife:

Certified Nurse Midwives are dedicated to providing healthcare to women. 

For example, they assist gynecologists when delivering babies, take care of emergency situations during labor, repair lacerations, and provide surgical assistance to physicians during cesarean births.

They also work in birth centers with gynecological checkups, nutrition counseling, and basic prenatal care and offer family planning services.

3. Clinical Nurse Specialist:

Clinical Nurse Specialists are different from the other APRN degrees.

This degree in nursing prepares them to research, teach, and advance the nursing practice. They assist with projects based on evidence-based practice, conduct research as a primary investigator, teach in the community, and help provide traditional care.

4. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist:

CRNAs administer anesthesia and other medications to patients and monitor them before and after the process.

They also focus on ensuring that the patient doesn’t feel any pain after the surgery procedure, follow the process with them, provide anesthesia care, and prescribe pain medications.

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What Are The Requirements to Become an APRN?

First, if you don’t have a nursing profession, you must know that the process of becoming an APRN is long and will depend on which of the four types of nursing specialty you want to pursue.

So, the first step if you don’t work in the healthcare field is to become a registered nurse and get a nurse license. You can do this by earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

We highly recommend you check out our guide on how to become a Registered Nurse.

These are the certification requirements for becoming an APRN, according to the Nursing License Map:

1. Earn an advanced nursing degree:

If you already have health education and want to become an APRN, the first step is to enroll in an advanced nurse degree program: a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a doctoral degree like the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

2. Complete clinical hours:

Having nursing clinical experience is a requirement to become an APRN, according to the  American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Completing your clinical hours will give you advanced skills to pursue this nursing specialization.

3. Pass a National Certification exam:

After you earn your advanced degree and complete the clinical hours, the next step is to pass a national certification examination.

There are several organizations that offer the certification to become an APRN; you only have to make sure that it is accredited and choose the type of certification depending on which specialization you want to pursue:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

It’s critical that the college you enroll in is recognized by the ACEN or CCNE. You can understand why better by checking out our blog on nursing school accreditation.

4. Apply for licensure

After completing the educational requirements, the final step to becoming an APRN is to have state licensure to be able to work.

The requirements may vary depending on the state in which you want to practice.

Where Can I Study to Become an APRN?

As we mentioned before, to become an APRN, you need to have a graduate level degree, like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or a doctorate level like the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

There are many great nurse practitioner programs in the US. However, to earn an MSN, we recommend five colleges that are great choices for non-traditional students who have many responsibilities:

If you want to know more information about their programs and tuition costs, we recommend you read our ultimate guide to obtaining an MSN degree.

Career Outlook as An APRN

Advanced practice nurses have a great job outlook and are very requested. However, the salary can vary depending on which nursing profession you have.

According to the  BLS, the median pay for an APRN is $125,000 per year. 

Also, the job outlook is 38%, much faster than the average.

But what are the salaries for each specialization?

It’s important to keep in mind that upgrading your career with an APRN will give you a health promotion, open the door for many advanced nursing roles, and put into practice your leadership skills. 

Licensed APRSNs are able to work in hospital settings, ambulatory care settings, and clinical settings and perform care for individuals with advanced training.

Nurse giving injection to senior woman in living room

What are the Licensed APRNs' responsibilities?

The responsibilities of an APRN may vary depending on the specialization, but according to the  BLS, advanced practice registered nurses typically do the following in health care settings:

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Pursuing a Career as an APRN

We hope this guide helped you realize that becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse is a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

With this advanced level of education, you will have the essential skills to provide services to individuals, work in nursing facilities, and be part of a medical team.

We know that the process is not fast because it involves completing a series of steps, including earning an advanced degree, completing clinical hours, passing a national certification exam, and applying for state licensure.

But if you are in the nursing field and it’s your passion, it is better to enjoy the process and know that you will have guaranteed an excellent career outlook of helping others and amazing remuneration.

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Mari Estefani Carvajal

Mari Estefani Carvajal

Mari Estefani Carvajal is a journalist passionate about writing, cinema, podcast, and multimedia production. She is a Content Writer at Gradehacker and helps non-traditional students life’s by creating creative content. You can find her on LinkedIn.