Pediatric Nurse

I. What They Do

Pediatric Nurses work with infants, children and adolescents in a wide range of medical settings to provide preventative and routine care, and treat illnesses and injuries. According to the Society of Pediatric Nurses, RNs working in this specialty area also have knowledge about the human growth and development process, as well as strong communication skills to connect with parents and patients.

To become a pediatric nurse, you must complete additional training beyond what is required to be licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) and may choose to earn the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) credential.

Daily Responsibilities

  • Educate patients’ families and caregivers about procedures, treatments and other types of medical care
  • Provide support and guidance to young patients
  • Communicate with pediatricians and other medical professionals
  • Record patient vital statistics, symptoms and other medical information
  • Monitor patient growth and development
  • Administer treatment plans and medicine, and operate monitoring equipment

Ideal Candidates

  • Interested in working specifically with children
  • Easily communicates and develops professional rapport with young patients and their families
  • Organized and able to follow complex protocols
  • Work well in stressful situations
  • Excel in multifaceted work environments

Specialization Areas

  • Pediatric Emergency Nurse
  • Neonatal Nursing

Work Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Emergency Rooms
  • Physician’s Offices
  • Community Organizations
  • Schools

II.Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates that the demand for Registered Nurses will grow from 2012 to 2022. Pediatric nurses who have earned at least a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) and have related work experience are likely to find more job opportunities than those with only an associate degree.

Job Growth

In 2013, there were 2,661,890 registered nurses in the U.S. working in a wide range of medical environments and facilities, some with specialties such as neonatal care.

Projected job growth for RNs in general is between 2012 and 2022 is 19%, which is faster than the 11% average for all positions.

Projected Job Growth for RNs, 2012-2022

Job Growth Percent Change for Registered Nurses vs Other U.S. Occupations

Metro Areas with the Highest Number of RNs Employed
Metro Area Number of RNs Employed
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Accessed February 2015.
New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 94,230
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division 69,610
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division 69,050
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 44,450
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA 42,690
Industries Employing the Highest Number RNs
Industry Number of RNs
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Accessed February 2015.
General and Surgical Hospitals 1,553,080
Physician Offices 178,810
Home Health Care Services 166,910
Skilled Nursing Facilities 142,490
Outpatient Care Centers 102,410

Pediatric Nurse Salary

Annual salaries for RNs, as reported by Bureau of Labor Statistics, vary based on industry (e.g. government, hospitals, residential facilities). Those with advanced training and certification, such as the CPN credential, may also receive higher compensation. RN’s that go on to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs), can also expect higher salaries.

Pediatric Nurses, according to PayScale, earn between $32,266 and $80,401 each year.

Average Annual RN Salaries Since 2007
Year Average Annual Salary
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Annual Occupation Profiles. Accessed February 2015.
2007 $62,480
2008 $65,130
2009 $66,530
2010 $67,720
2011 $69,110
2012 $67,930
2013 $68,910

States with the Highest Average Salaries for RNs in 2013

III. How to Become One

Nurses earn the RN license after graduating from an associate or bachelor’s program in nursing and passing the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX). Most undergraduate programs do not offer a pediatric specialty, but nurses can gain knowledge and skills through on-the-job training programs in pediatric work settings. Many employers filling pediatric nursing positions seek applicants who have earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and have previous pediatric work experience.

Education Requirements

Registered Nurses are eligible for CPN certification. Each state’s board of nursing determines the requirements for RN licensure, which usually include an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution. Those interested in a nursing program leading to licensure eligibility should look for programs with accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and/or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Certification and Licensing Requirements

Certification is not required to work in pediatric settings, however many nurses in these environments choose to obtain CPN training and credentials offered through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

The PNCB provides these eligibility requirements to take CPN exam:

  • Current RN license
  • Documentation of at least 1,800 hours of pediatric clinical experience within the past 24 months, which can include:
    • Direct patient care
    • Teaching
    • Administration
    • Clinical research
    • School-based care
    • Home health care
    • Consultation in pediatric nursing

CPN Recertification Requirements

Annual recertification requires continued education, which is measured in contact hours. CPNs who want to maintain certification must complete 15 contact hours or related activities each year. Approved continued education options include a range of practice and learning experiences, such as:

  • Conference attendance
  • Work-related training
  • Online continuing education
  • Academic credit and direct patient care

The PNCB provides detailed instructions for calculating contact hours.