Advanced Practice Nurses


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you want to become an APN, you will first need to complete the high school and undergraduate education necessary to become a registered nurse. This is done through the completion of a bachelor's or associate's degree program in nursing, or by obtaining a diploma from a nursing school. The nursing school diploma is becoming less popular, as more nurses enter the field through associate's, bachelor's, or even master's degree programs.

Postsecondary Training

A master's degree is usually necessary to prepare for a nursing specialty or to teach. For some specialties, such as nursing research, a Ph.D. is essential. After becoming a registered nurse, educational requirements for APNs vary depending on the category of APN under consideration.

Other Education or Training

Web-based educational courses, conferences, seminars, webinars, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, Midwives Alliance of North America, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the National League for Nursing. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Each of the four APN classifications has its own certification process. Contact APN associations for more information.

All states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories require a license to practice nursing. To obtain a license, graduates of approved nursing schools must pass a national examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Nursing students should gain experience by completing several nursing internships, or clinical rotations (ideally in their chosen advanced practice specialty), as part of their postsecondary training.

Key traits for advanced practice nurses include strong communication skills, empathy, a detail-oriented personality, good judgment, leadership ability, a willingness to continue to learn and upgrade their skills throughout their careers, and the ability to remain calm and decisive under pressure.