Surgeon writing down operation notes

How to Become a Surgical Nurse Practitioner?

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Surgeon writing down operation notes

Nursing is a highly rewarding career choice for many people. Not only does it offer financial stability and job security, there are multiple ways for nurses to advance their careers through specialization. By focusing on a healthcare niche or patient group, nurses can further their education, experience, and annual pay.

For many registered nurses, the path to specialization begins with earning their Master of Science in Nursing degree (or MSN). In fact, many of the highest paid nursing jobs require an MSN degree. For this reason, we developed a new series of career guides to shed light on a few of the top nursing professions that require the MSN.

(Click here to see our list of the top nursing jobs you can get with an MSN degree)

This career guide will focus on the role of the surgical nurse practitioner. Continue reading to learn about how to become a surgical nurse practitioner, as well as the duties, requirements, and benefits of this noble profession.

Surgical Nurse Practitioner Definition

What Is a Surgical Nurse Practitioner?

Surgical nurse practitioners (or SNPs) are registered nurses who work within an operating theater alongside a larger medical team. Surgical nurses perform a variety of duties before, during, and after a surgery in support of the surgical staff as well as the patient.

Surgical Nurse Practitioner: Job Description

What Does a Surgical Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse smiling at patient

Surgical nurse practitioners work with surgeons, physicians, and other clinical staff to determine the best care for every patient.

The primary responsibility of a surgical nurse is to prepare their patients before a surgery as well as providing immediate care to them after their surgery.

Surgical Nurses: Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Surgical Nurse Practitioners include:

  • Assessing new patients
  • Discussing various options for surgery
  • Consulting with patients after their operation
  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs
  • Performing tests before and after surgery
  • Administering medications under the direction of a physician or surgeon
  • Assisting surgeons and other medical staff during an operation

Surgical Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Where Do Surgical Nurse Practitioners Work?

Surgical nurse practitioners can find work within surgical wards of hospitals and certain clinics. They can also work in emergency care centers, recovery rooms, and intensive care units (ICUs).

Surgical Nurse Practitioner Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Nurse Practitioner?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Surgical Nurse Practitioner?

Becoming a surgical nurse practitioner requires a significant level of education and training beyond simply passing the NCLEX-RN certification exam

To become a surgical nurse, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree as well as a master’s degree. Some employers may also require additional specialized certifications in surgery-care.

Here are the steps required to become a Surgical Nurse Practitioner:

Step 1. Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

Option 1: The first step to becoming a SNP is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. If you have no prior nursing education or experience, a BSN program will take you about three to four years to complete.

Option 2: If you already have a diploma or associates degree in nursing (ADN), you can enroll in an RN-to-MSN program. Programs such as these could take an average of three years of full-time study.

Option 3: If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, you can skip the BSN and earn an MSN degree by completing what’s known as a Masters Entry Program in Nursing (or MEPN). These programs provide an accelerated nursing curriculum to non-nursing college graduates.

Step 2. Earn your Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN)

Upon earning your BSN, you must become specialized in surgical nursing. This can be achieved by earning your MSN degree with a focus in surgical science. Most MSN programs take about 18 to 24 months to complete. Some of the most common MSN courses include management techniques, advanced biology, organizational leadership, and nursing science.

Regardless of your future nursing specialty, earning your MSN can set you up for a higher earning potential and greater job outlook.

Step 3. Pass the NCLEX-RN Certification Exam

Upon graduating from your BSN or MEPN program, the next step to becoming a surgical nurse practitioner is earning your nursing license. The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is a nationally mandated license that all nurses must receive before they can become registered nurses (RNs).

Step 4. Get Certified in Surgical Nursing

Although certification is optional, some employers may require it. As an MSN-RN, you can apply for certification in a variety of surgical specializations such as adult cardiac surgery, intensive care, and plastic surgery.

If you want to pursue a surgical nursing license, you can earn certification through the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). The AMSN offers a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) credential through the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). To learn more about the requirements to become certified as a CMSRN, click here.

Surgical Nurse Practitioner Salary

How Much Do Surgical Nurse Practitioners Make?

According to, surgical nurse practitioners earn an annual median salary* of $105,500.

The highest-paid 10 percent of surgical nurses can earn up to $121,166.

The salary* of a surgical nurse practitioner can vary depending on many factors, including education, level of certification, and experience.

What Is the Job Outlook for Surgical Nurse Practitioners?

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report any specific data related to the job outlook of surgical nurse practitioners. However, they do indicate that the overall employment of nurse practitioners is expected to grow 26% by 2028.

Surgical Nurse Practitioner Career

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Surgical Nurse Practitioner?

Medical team performing an operation

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can lead to many wonderful career opportunities that are beyond the reach of the RN certification alone. Becoming a surgical nurse practitioner is just one example.

If you enjoy solving problems on your feet while working in high-pressure situations, then becoming a surgical nurse may be the right career for you!

If you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming an SNP, you can start by earning your MSN degree at Eagle Gate College.

Click here to learn more about our MSN program, as well as our MEPN program.