Female nurse listening to a child's heartbeat

How to Become a Pain Management Nurse (RN-BC)

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

Female nurse listening to a child's heartbeat

Registered Nurses (RNs) have the unique ability to choose what they’d like to do with their careers after they earn their license. There are several different nursing specialties to choose from, all with their own job responsibilities, work environments, and perks. Each of these specialties requires different levels of education and certification as well. Becoming a Pain Management Nurse is a great way to individualize your career as an RN. At the same time, the position ranks among the top paying nursing jobs.

Pain management nurses are directly involved with the care of patients when they need the most relief from pain or trauma. Their main responsibility is to assess patients to determine the cause and extent of their pain and then properly administer medication to relieve that pain.

(Click here to see our full list of highest-paying nursing jobs).

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide for anyone who’s wondering how to become a Pain Management Nurse. Continue reading to find out what you need to do to become a Pain Management Nurse, as well as what makes this career so rewarding.

Pain Management Nurse Definition

What is a Pain Management Nurse?

A Pain Management Nurse is a Registered Nurse that specializes in helping patients deal with acute and chronic pain. Patients dealing with pain must be given the proper amount of medication in order to provide relief without putting the patient in danger. Due to the increase in opioid abuse over the last decade, Pain Management Nurses are needed to ensure proper medications are being administered while avoiding the risks associated with over-dependence or addiction for their patients.

Pain Management Nurse: Job Description

What Does a Pain Management Nurse Do?

Pain Management Nurses are mainly tasked with helping patients manage their pain. They begin by assessing their patients in order to determine the cause and severity of their pain. From there, they determine which form of medication will effectively help them. Educating patients on how they should cope with their pain or discomfort is also a crucial part of the Pain Management Nurse job. This prevents patients from forming addictive habits from any narcotic pain medications they’re given. In response to the recent spike in addiction, Pain Management Nurses try to find alternative pain management techniques that don’t always require the use of narcotics.

Pain Management Nurse Jobs

Where Do Pain Management Nurses Work?

As a Pain Management Nurse, you can find employment in several different healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and physician centers.

Some of the daily responsibilities held by a Pain Management Nurse include:

  • Assessing individual medical and psychosocial patient care needs
  • Working with a physician to develop a plan of care
  • Educating patients on treatments and recovery
  • Documenting patient response to treatment

Pain Management Nurse Schooling

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pain Management Nurse?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Pain Management Nurse?

In order to become a Pain Management Nurse, you’ll need to spend 2–4 years in school earning your nursing degree (ADN or BSN). Upon graduating, there are additional requirements you must meet before you can apply for the pain management specialty certification. These include NCLEX-RN certification, work experience, and continuing education. Here are the steps you’ll need to take in order to become a Pain Management Nurse:

BSN sign on a stack of books with a stethoscope

1) Earn your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree:

The first step in becoming a Pain Management Nurse is earning your ADN or BSN degree. An ADN can take around 18–24 months to complete. A BSN will take about 4 years unless you’ve already earned your associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Students who’ve already earned their ADN can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program which can be completed in as little as 20 months. Many healthcare organizations prefer a BSN degree. In some cases, a BSN degree is considered a minimum requirement for employment. Keep that in mind when considering your chosen path to earning your nursing license. If you’re an RN and would like to know more about earning your BSN in as little as 20 months, click here to learn about the online RN-to-BSN program at Eagle Gate College.

2) Pass the NCLEX-RN exam:

Once you’ve earned your ADN or BSN, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to earn your nursing license. Once you’ve passed the NCLEX, you’ll be certified as a nurse and prepared to jump into the workforce.

(Click here to read our NCLEX-RN exam study guide)

3) Earn your Pain Management Nurse Certification – The RN-BC:

To work as a pain management nurse, you’ll have to complete the Pain Management Nursing Certification (PMGT-BC) exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Passing this exam will add the initials BC to your RN title, which stands for Board Certified. This certification formally recognizes the holder’s specialized knowledge, skills, and experience. Furthermore, it qualifies them for greater responsibility and opportunities in their area of specialty. These are the eligibility requirements for the Pain Management Nursing Certification according to the ANCC:

  • Hold a current, active RN license
  • Have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse
  • Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in pain management nursing within the last three years
  • Completed 30 hours of continuing education in pain management within the last 3 years

The exam is computer-based and is offered during a 90-day period at a location nearest to you. You’ll be given 3 hours to complete the exam which consists of 150 questions. The exam costs $295 for members of the American Nurses Association and $395 for non-members. The credential is valid for 5 years, and you can continue to use the credential by submitting a renewal application up to 1 year prior to expiration.

You can find complete information about Pain Management Nursing Certification at the ANCC website.

Pain Management Nurse Salary

How Much Do Pain Management Nurses Make?

According to Indeed.com, the average salary* earned by pain management nurses is about $114,000 per year or about $49 per hour.

What is the Job Outlook for Pain Management Nurses?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide any specific data pertaining to the job outlook of Pain Management Nurses. However, it does project that the employment of Registered Nurses as a whole will grow by 9% through 2030. As employment grows for all Registered Nurses, RNs who specialize in pain management will most likely have a greater job outlook than those without certification.

Medical professional holding a pain management sign

Pain Management Nursing Career

Are you ready to start your career as a Pain Management Nurse?

Becoming a Pain Management Nurse requires commitment and patience. You’ll have to spend time working as an RN before you can apply to earn your pain management certification. However, once you’ve put the time and effort in, earning that certification will allow you to maximize your earning potential as a nurse. You’ll also find yourself having greater responsibilities at your job, which for many can be very rewarding. If you’re looking to become a Pain Management Nurse, you can start by earning your BSN degree at Provo College.

Click here to learn more about our BSN program.