There are several paths to becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP). Two of the most common are a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a FNP specialization and an MSN with a FNP certificate. Either path qualifies graduates to sit for the certification exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). If successful, newly certified FNPs can expect ample employment opportunities and an increase in pay.

Family nurse practitioners (nurse practitioners, NPs) have the highest employment growth rate in the nursing industry. From 2016 to 2026, the projected percent change in employment is 36 percent. This is five times the average growth rate for all occupations. Nurse practitioners also earn some of the highest salaries in the industry. They averaged $100,910 in 2016, with high performers commanding between $120,450 and $140,930. Those working in top paying industries such as personal care services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services earned $136,280 and $132,010, respectively. Specialty hospital FNPs earned $117,120.

Family nurse practitioners earn higher salaries for many reasons. Many work independently, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They serve as primary and specialty care providers, performing many of the same duties are physicians. Prescribing medications, ordering laboratory tests, discussing ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient’s life, and assessing patients to determine the best way to improve or manage their health are just a few.

Thanks to the high demand for skilled FNPs, most nursing schools offer competitive MSN in family nurse practitioner programs and many offer FNP certificate programs. Some schools even offer online programs, allowing students to continue working while pursuing this advanced certificate. Some of the best online options include Herzing University, South University, and West Coast University.

Start earning more sooner by enrolling in a FNP certificate program today. We’ve compiled below a list of the best online nursing schools for a family nurse practitioner certificate to help you get started.