Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (aka, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) are healthcare professionals that specialize in treating mental health disorders and distress. They assess, diagnose, evaluate, and treat individuals with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse.


To become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, you must graduate from high school, earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then receive a master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in mental health studies.

Step 1: Graduate from high school

Step 2: Attend Nursing School

  • You can graduate with either an Associate or Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from an accredited program

Step 3: Pass the NCLEX-RN examination to become a Registered Nurse (RN)

Step 4: Enter into a Master of Nursing or Nurse Practitioner program that offers the ability to graduate with a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner degree

  • Program must be accredited by the CCNE or ACEN

Step 5: Graduate and get certified!

  • Certification requirements:
    • Possess a current U.S. nursing license
    • Hold a masters, post-doctorate, or doctoral degree from a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
    • 3 separate graduate-level courses related to advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology


  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Lafayette
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana – Shreveport
  • Nicholls State University – Thibodeaux
  • Southeastern Louisiana University – Hammond
  • Louisiana State University Health Science Center – New Orleans & Shreveport


The average yearly salary for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in 2020 was $117, 670

In Louisiana, the average salary is around $123, 210 per year



The demand for this profession is expected to increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of nurse practitioners will grow by 26% through 2028.



  • Evaluate and diagnose mental health disorders
  • Create individualized mental health treatment plans for recovery
  • Counsel individuals to help them cultivate healthier and more positive thoughts and behaviors
  • Provide individual, family, and group therapy sessions
  • Help patients overcome drug and substance abuse
  • Prescribe medication to help patients feel better


Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can work in many different settings, and with a variety of patients. They tend to work a regular 40 hour week, but shifts and times can vary on where they work. Some hospitals may also require occasional overnight shifts, or that the practitioner be on-call.

Common settings you’ll find Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners working in:

  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities
  • Primary Healthcare Clinics
  • Private Psychiatric Practices
  • Residential Substance Abuse Facilities
  • Schools and Student Health Clinics


American Psychiatric Nurses Association

3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 625
Falls Church, Virginia 22042

855-863-APNA (2762)