Nurse Practitioner VS Registered Nurse: The Showdown

It’s no secret that the nursing career is a lot like a tree. The base of the tree is your typical nursing the degree. Remember how fun the NCLEX was? Once you pass that grueling exam, the tree blossoms into dozens of branches which will be potential careers for you to pursue. Two of the most lucrative careers are a nurse practitioner and registered nurse. While many think the two careers are synonymous, they’re actually quite different. Below we’ll take a look at these two lucrative specialties and compare nurse practitioner vs registered nurse.

Nurse Practitioner VS Registered Nurse

Before we can jump into some of the major differences between nurse practitioners and registered nurses, it’s important to first go over the job description and to realize just how similar these specialties are on the surface. When it comes to nurse practitioner vs registered nurse, there’s a lot they have in common. Both require at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing; however, one requires more schooling, which we’ll get in to shortly. Both nursing specialties will have you working directly with patients as well as collaborating with doctors and other health professionals.

The Schooling

When it comes to the comparison of nurse practitioner vs registered nurse, one of the biggest differences is the amount of nursing school you need to complete. For a registered nurse, you’ll at least need to complete a bachelor degree program in nursing. After that, unless you’re focusing on a specialty or pursuing a different career, like an NP, you don’t have to worry about any more schooling.

nurse practitioner vs registered nurse

Nurse practitioners will have to go through much more schooling. Not only will they need a bachelor’s in nursing, but they’ll also need to complete a master’s degree program as well. Once completing that program, there are also additional educational requirements. Every state requires NPs to meet continuing education standards. Depending on their certifying organization, recertification may require 1,000 hours of clinical practice plus 75 hours of continuing education, or 150 hours of continuing education. If you want to specialize in a certain area, you’ll also need to complete additional schooling for that specialty.

Work Environment

When it comes to the comparison of nurse practitioner vs registered nurse, the work environment can differ greatly. Registered nurses will almost always find themselves in a hospital setting. They will often find themselves on rotating shifts at a hospital and will work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals. They’ll usually be the first person a patient sees when they enter a hospital.

Nurse practitioners will often find themselves in a different setting. Nurse practitioners often work in more private practice-style settings like community clinics, government agencies, nonprofits, or educational settings. A nurse practitioner may take on more of a physician-style in a clinical setting. They have more authority to prescribe medication, diagnose ailments, and treat them as well.


We know this is what you really want to know when it comes to nurse practitioner vs registered nurse. When comparing the two, there is, in fact, a big difference in salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN salary is around $72,000. For nurse practitioners, the average salary is about $114,000. This should be no surprise since a nurse practitioner will often need to go through additional schooling, therefore taking on additional cost.

We hope we were able to show an accurate comparison when it comes to nurse practitioners vs registered nurses. If you’re thinking about a career in nursing, both nurse practitioner and registered nurse have the potential to be great, fulfilling career options.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop them below!

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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