With the current scenarios with the jobs, we all feel the heat to have not pursued a healthcare degree, be it nursing or any.  Nursing or healthcare is the only sector that is booming but lacks employees, with each healthcare profession set to grow by at least 8-10%, in this decade. 

But not all have their age or other aspects by their side, if you do, you should conduct thorough research to gain all the information and self-assess if you can switch to nursing or not. If yes is the call, then you are on the right page.

Today, we will guide you through another fascinating yet rewarding – 6-figures earning – a Nursing Practitioner career, even if you don’t have a nursing degree.

In this article, we will discuss Nursing Practitioners, how to become one without a degree, their skills, the pros and cons of such a route; and much more. 

Let’s begin:

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner Without a Nursing Degree?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who have completed advanced education and training to become Advanced Practice RNs (APRNs). They are revered as the most knowledgeable, and at times, are treated as equivalent to doctors.

NPs are also authorized to provide a wide range of healthcare services, including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management of various health conditions. They are trained to deliver comprehensive and holistic care to patients of all ages.

Specific areas of Specialization  

  • Family Health
  • Neonatal or Newborns
  • Pediatrics or Children’s Health
  • Acute or Emergency Care
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatric or Mental Health
  • Women’s Health
  • Diabetic Health
  • Adult Health
  • Aging Adults Health

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Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

As you know, NPs are APRNs meaning they are the extensions or advanced versions of the RNs. So, it is mandatory to become an RN to become a NP.

You need either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing with an active RN status. Then you can enroll yourself in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in NP program and become one.  

If you hold an RN with an associate’s degree you can enroll in an RN-to-MSN program, or if you hold a BSN degree you can enroll in a BSN-to-MSN program.

Here is the article – how to become a nurse practitioner? (With a Nursing Degree) There we have discussed the roles and duties of NPs, the career outlook, job forecast, salary rankings, growth rankings, work schedule, how can you become one, and some data and stats to help you choose the best-suited NP programs. A must-read!

Now, let’s delve deepen into the part you have been waiting for – How to become an NP without a Nursing Degree?


-> What is Nursing?

-> Is Nursing a Good Career?

-> How Long Is Nursing School?

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner Without a Nursing Degree

Unlike the profession, we have discussed earlier in our article – how to become a Midwife without a Nursing Degree? – there are no such virtues available in this career path. Here, you need to go through a longer process of nursing education.

So, if you are wondering if is it possible or not – yes, it is possible to get your hands on a career in nursing as a NP. But the paths might not be as easy. Consider the options carefully and then choose the one that suits you the best.

* You could also opt for the online route, as most of the programs are offered online.

There are 2 ways to become an NP without a Nursing Degree

  • With your Bachelor’s degree in any discipline
  • By becoming an RN

These 2 ways are the traditional ways, but we have also suggested a path for you that we believe is more efficient equipping you with all the knowledge and making you job ready.

First, the two traditional ways –  

With a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline

You can become an NP by enrolling in a direct entry program. But it is mandatory to have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline to enroll in this program. If you have one, you are ready to go.

Let’s explore –

Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Program

EKG Tech Posing

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline you can enroll in this program that offers – Bachelors to MSN and then NP specialization. It might take around 3-5 years to complete depending on several factors.

However, you should remember that you need to be an RN to become an APRN, so even in this case you need to clear the NCLEX-RN examination and acquire RN licensure.

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any discipline
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Completed prerequisite courses for nurses
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores
  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Academic essay
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Entrance essay

During the initial semesters, your curricula are structured to prepare you for your RN exam. Post-completion of those curricula you need to acquire an RN licensure.

Then, you will be moving to the MSN curricula part. Post-completion of the MSN curricula you again need to acquire a NP certificate and APRN license.

By becoming an RN

If you don’t possess any nursing degree or any bachelor’s degree as well, you could get an ADN (associate degree in nursing) and then acquire an RN license – NCLEX-RN – and then enroll in programs – accelerated or bridge programs for RN to MSN-NP. 

To get your ADN and RN you might require 2-3 years. Then to get your NP certificate you need to enroll in an RN to MSN program and it might take you another 2-3 years or more. Or, you can also enroll in an ADN to MSN program and that would take you 30-36 months to complete.

Accelerated programs for Nurse Practitioners could help you finish the MSN-NP part in 20-30 months. But you need an RN to enroll in this program.  

Now, the bridge programs for Nurse Practitioners don’t just allow RNs but also allow the LPN/LVNs and CNAs to upgrade their existing skills.

The most efficient route we could suggest

Nursing as a career could be very haunting if you go unprepared. It would be like, in a war with no shield. Entering the workforce unprepared could not only bring harm to patients but also to you as well, for in the work setting that you will be working it would take one moment to acquire some diseases.

So, here we suggest a path that equips you with all the knowledge of the nursing field and makes you fully ready to earn a 6-figure salary being an NP.

For those with a Bachelor’s or Associate Degree in any discipline

  • Search for an Online Accelerated BSN Program
  • Enroll in the program
  • Complete the coursework and clinical hours

* Till here it may take you around 20 months

  • Acquire RN status by clearing the NCLEX-RN exam (depends on you)
  • Now, enroll in an MSN – NP program
  • Complete the coursework and clinical hours
  • Acquire the NP certificate and APRN licensure

* This might take you around 20 to 30 months

So, in just around 40 – 50 months you could become a Nurse Practitioner and start working. This could be the most efficient way, also the fastest way to get your NP certificate and APRN license.

Think about it, explore other options, and choose wisely the program that fits best for you.  

You May Also Like:

-> Nursing Degree Levels

-> Nursing Degree Online

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Skills of an NP – Nurse Practitioner

As a Nurse practitioner either you possess some skills or you hone them during the education process to succeed in this profession.

Here are some skills:

Top-Notch Nursing Skills

The most expected skill of an NP would be that she guesses the disease by just seeing a patient and observing the symptoms. Well, that comes with experience but we are talking about expectations here. With that said, your nursing skills should be the best in the class.

Technology Skills

Technology is overshadowing the traditional methods so an NP should possess a basic understanding of the used health care technologies like digital blood pressure monitors or telehealth services.

Organizational Abilities

You need to balance multiple tasks and take care of many patients each day so you must possess excellent organizational skills to effectively complete your responsibilities on time. With your organizational skills, you can prioritize your tasks, and manage your time effectively.


You should know that you have more autonomy than other nurses in assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients. So, you need to build strong leadership abilities and take the initiative to make decisions and oversee other nurses.

Critical Thinking Abilities

You need to think and act quickly to assess a situation, develop a plan, and implement the necessary course of action to solve different circumstances.


The patient’s needs often change and with it the work of a nurse. You need to adapt quickly to different situations and provide care to patients even during unexpected situations.

Apart from these skills, there are some other soft skills that will help you; like – Empathy, Patience, Communication Skills, Teamwork, and Collaboration.

Pros and Cons of being a Nurse Practitioner without a nursing degree 

What Is Practical Nursing

You now know about the career of an NP, and the ways to acquire it, so, it’s time to discuss some of the pros and cons of being a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree.

Let’s begin with the Pros –

Pros – NP without Nursing Degree

High Earning Potential

Well, the potential to earn 6 figures salary is a clear advantage of becoming a nurse practitioner. As per BLS’s May 2022 report, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $124,680.

Also, there might exist some employer benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, which again contribute to your income.

Interesting Work Environment

As an NP you can work in a variety of work setting like hospitals, emergency clinics, physician’s offices, etc. The group is generally large including medical assistants, RNs, doctors, and fellow nurse practitioners.  


As an NP, you hold autonomy only second to the doctors. It makes this career even more interesting. 

Cons of being a nurse practitioner

Let’s discuss the cons –

Lengthy Education Process

So much of study is required from a degree to getting an RN license and then pursuing the MSN and getting an APRN license. The process is very lengthy, demanding your 4-6 years, and you could easily feel burned out.

Costs Much

With 5-7 years of studies, you can calculate the costs involved here. To avoid other costs like traveling, fuel, and parking you can opt for online programs. But even online programs would offer you clinical hours at some partner clinic where you must anyway travel. So, choose the programs wisely.

High-Pressure Clinical Hours

The total clinical hours could exceed 1000 hours. You need to complete the degree level, and master’s level clinical hours in one go in one program. This is no easy task. That’s why we have suggested a route, and you can take note of it.

Read More:

-> 7 Best Online Nursing Degrees for 2023

-> Nursing Degree- Best Schools, Major & Programs

FAQs – Nurse Practitioners

Are nurse practitioners in high demand?

According to the BLS, the projected employment growth rate of nurse practitioners is 46% in this decade with nearly 30,200 job openings. So, considering this report, yes, nurse practitioners are in very-very high demand.

Is becoming a Nurse Practitioner worth it?

As a nurse practitioner, you have a 6-figure earning potential, a secure job, autonomy over others, and a position of respect.

As per the BLS,

The annual average salary is $124,680.

The employment growth forecast is upwards of 46%.

So, considering the facts, yes, becoming a Nurse Practitioner is worth it.  

Which is the highest-earning type of Nurse Practitioner?

Here is the list of the top 3 earning NPs:

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner – average annual salary $161, 353   

Family nurse practitioner – average annual salary $144,019

Emergency nurse practitioner – average annual salary $139,72

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.