Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Role

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are experts in neonatal care and provide advanced medical management and support to families during times of significant stress. Practitioners work collaboratively with other health care providers in both acute and non-acute settings as they assess, diagnose and manage the health of newborns and infants. Family-centered and development care are also focuses of a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice

An NNP is an advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in the care and treatment of preterm and full-term newborn infants through the first few years of their lives. The NNP manages high-risk infants in an intensive neonatal hospital setting independently and often in collaboration with a neonatologist or other specialist. NNPs also may work in private practices outside of the acute care setting.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN), neonatal nurse practitioners earned a mean base salary of $116,000, from their 2016 National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NANNP) workforce survey of over 700 NNP responses.

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Eligibility Requirements

Prior education, certification and clinical practice are among the requirements for acceptance into a nurse practitioner program. We’ve based these steps off of the National Certification Corporation (NCC) – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC) certification. Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner.

  1. Become a registered nurse. In order to apply to a neonatal nurse practitioner program, one must have a license as a registered nurse in a U.S. state or territory. Passing the NCLEX-RN examination is required for certification as a registered nurse. Working as an RN for two years before applying for an NNP certificate is required.
  2. Successfully complete a NNP program that meets National Certification Corporation (NCC) requirements. These programs must be master’s, postgraduate or doctoral programs.
  3. Apply for approval to take the neonatal nurse practitioner exam administered by the NCC within eight years of completing an NNP program to earn your neonatal nurse practitioner certification. Pass the NNP exam. The exam tests comprehension of general assessment, general management, the disease process and professional issues. Final transcripts and proof of education are required. Any applicants applying outside of the required timeframe of application, must provide proof of obtaining a current graduate degree that meets current requirements.
  4. Apply for state certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner in the state in which you wish to practice.
  5. Be approved to take the exam/pass the exam.
  6. Renew your certification every three years. In addition to renewing certification through the board, renewal through the state is also required and additional fulfillment of continuing education contact hours may be necessary.

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Should I enroll into a neonatal nurse practitioner program?

NNP programs are MSN level degree, and RNs are required to have current, valid experience to be considered for admission to the program. 

Neonatal nurse practitioner programs are offered across the country in both on-campus and online formats, such as online nurse practitioner programs. Because many nurses are working full time while taking classes, programs may offer a mix of weekends on campus, phone conferences, online blackboards and clinicals in the nurse’s hometown to avoid the need for frequent travel to campus or relocation while in school.

After graduation, students will be able to sit for the national certification exam offered by the NCC and then work as entry-level providers. Many schools will post pass/fail rates on the NCC certification as it relates to their graduates, and applicants may consider this data when applying to the school.

While attending the program full time will reduce time to degree completion, it is not always possible for working RNs. Individual program length will vary according to a student’s personal circumstances and schedule. Nurses who already hold a master’s degree may apply for a post master’s certificate program and will complete classes as determined by their university’s program administrators.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certification

National Certification Corporation (NCC) – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC)
Eligibility Requirements: Active RN license, master’s degree or higher from a graduate nurse practitioner program.
Fees: $325 for application and testing.
Renewal: Certifications must be renewed every three years; the renewal fee is $100.

Information on the NCC certification for neonatal nurse practitioner was retrieved as of February 2020. For the most up-to-date information, refer to NCC’s website.


What is a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP)?

A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) focused on providing assessment, care and treatment to newborns and infants. 

Where do neonatal nurse practitioners work?

Neonatal nurse practitioners may be found working in intensive care units, delivery rooms, emergency rooms and specialty clinics.

How long does it take to become a neonatal nurse practitioner?

Depending on your past education and experience, the time it takes to become an NNP will vary. If you have earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing, it may take less time to complete a graduate nursing program than if you are an RN without a bachelor’s in nursing. Be sure to check with your preferred NNP program and to verify your state licensure requirements.

Is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse (NICU) the same as an NNP?

No, a NICU nurse is not the same as an NNP, but they may both have the same master’s level degree. NICU nurses typically work in the intensive care unit and care for newborns who usually need round-the-clock attention.