Female nurse with a pediatric patient

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

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

Female nurse with a pediatric patient

One of the many perks of nursing is you can specialize in the area of healthcare where you feel most passionate. All nursing specialties have a distinct set of job responsibilities, patient groups, and work environments. Most specializations also require unique academic qualifications and certifications.

(Click here to learn how to become a Registered Nurse)

Nurses are highly regarded for belonging to one of the most compassionate occupations within our healthcare system. This is especially true of nurses who opt to work directly with children.

This career guide will focus on the nurses who specialize in the healthcare of children, Pediatric Nurses. If children’s healthcare piques your interest, this guide will help you understand the role of a Pediatric Nurse, their job responsibilities, salary*, and educational requirements.

(Click here to see our full list of the highest paid nursing jobs)

Pediatric Nurse Definition

What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric Nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) who care for children of all ages in a variety of healthcare settings. Pediatric Nurses have specialty training in pediatric healthcare and treatment, meaning they work specifically with children, from newborns to teenagers.

Pediatric Nurse: Job Description

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

Pediatric Nurses care for children to promote their health and support their growth and development.

Pediatric Nurses must approach their care for sick and injured children based on their age, condition, as well as their level of physical and mental development. When young patients feel anxious about their visit to the pediatrician’s office, Pediatric Nurses will do their best to comfort them. Pediatric Nurses also educate parents on how to care for their children at home.

Pediatric Nurse: Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Pediatric Nurses include:

  • Caring for children who are acutely, chronically, or critically ill
  • Performing physical assessments
  • Ordering and prescribing medication
  • Educating patients and their parents
  • Monitoring growth and development
  • Designing care plans to accommodate children with special needs in the home, school, and community environments.

Pediatric Nurse Jobs

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Pediatric Nurses can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including doctor offices, clinics, and hospitals. Their extensive training in pediatric care also allows them to excel in acute care departments in hospitals, such as the neonatal unit and the pediatric critical care unit.

Pediatric Nurse Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pediatric Nurse?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Pediatric Nurse?

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse involves a significant level of education and training. It also requires a substantial degree of experience working in pediatrics.

At a minimum, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) to become a Pediatric Nurse. While earning a bachelor’s degree may seem arduous, the hard work does pay off in the end. In fact, Pediatric Nurses rank among the highest paying nursing jobs in the US.

Here are the steps required to become a Pediatric Nurse: 

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

The first step to becoming a Pediatric Nurse is earning your BSN or 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.

If you already have an associate degree in nursing (ADN), you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs are very convenient and can be completed in as little as 20 months.

Accelerated nursing programs are also available to Licensed Vocational Nurses that have an associate degree in vocational nursing (ASVN). These LVN to BSN pathways allow you to skip the first three semesters of the BSN program.

RN sign against a nurse hat

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN License Exam

Upon earning your bachelor’s degree, the next step to becoming a Pediatric Nurse is earning your nursing license. To do that, you must pass the NCLEX-RN or the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. With the NCLEX, you’ll be certified to enter the workforce as a Registered Nurse (RN).

(Click here to read out guide on how to pass the NCLEX-RN exam)

3. Gain Real-World Experience Working as an RN

To become a Pediatric Nurse, you’ll first have to gain work experience as an RN. Nurses can prepare, however, by applying for positions in a hospital’s pediatric or neonatal department. To earn your certification in pediatric nursing, you will have to accomplish 1,800 clinical hours within two years of working in pediatrics.

4. Pursue an Advanced Degree

Albeit optional, many Pediatric Nurses can improve their job outlook and salary* by earning an advanced degree. Pediatric Nurses who wish to pursue an advanced degree can earn a Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) and go on to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP). Most MSN programs take about 18–24 months to complete.

5. Get Certified in Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric nursing certification is also optional. Registered Nurses looking to become certified can take the Certified Pediatric Nurse Examination, which is administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

Pediatric Nurse Salary

How Much Can Pediatric Nurses Make?

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report any specific data on income for Pediatric Nurses. However, it does indicate the salary* ranges for Nurse Practitioners, which includes Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. This is the Pediatric Nurse position that requires an advanced degree. As of May 2021, Nurse Practitioners earned an average salary* of about $118,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $80,000 and the highest 10 percent earned over $163,000.

Stethoscope next to money

Highest Paying Industries for Pediatric Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the industries where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Nurse Practitioners:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Home Health Care Services $64.03 $133,170
Psychiatric Hospitals $63.38 $131,830
Outpatient Care Centers $62.11 $129,190
General Hospitals $59.12 $122,960
Physicians’ Offices $55.23 $114,870

Highest Paying States for Pediatric Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the states where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Nurse Practitioners:

State  Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
California $72.99 $151,830
New Jersey $65.87 $137,010
New York $64.39 $133,940
Washington $62.90 $130,840
Massachusetts $62.28 $129,540

Highest Paying Cities for Pediatric Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the cities where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Nurse Practitioners:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, CA $95.13 $197,870
Napa, CA $88.80 $184,700
Fairfield, CA $86.72 $180,380
San Francisco, CA $85.18 $177,160
Yuba City, CA $76.57 $159,260
San Luis Obispo, CA $73.70 $153,300
Sacramento, CA $73.58 $153,050
Santa Rosa, CA $73.15 $152,150
Santa Cruz, CA $72.25 $150,280
Fresno, CA $71.04 $147,760

What is the Job Outlook for Pediatric Nurses?

According to the BLS, the overall employment of Nurse Practitioners, which includes Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, is projected to grow 45 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (8%).

APRNs, such as Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, will be increasingly utilized in team-based models of care, particularly in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, and other ambulatory care settings. They will be needed to provide both primary and preventive care.

Pediatric Nurse Career

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Pediatric Nurse?

There are many rewarding careers in nursing. If you love caring for children and improving their quality of life, then becoming a Pediatric Nurse could be a fantastic career choice for you!

If you’re prepared to begin your journey of becoming a Pediatric Nurse, you can start by earning your BSN degree at Provo College.

Click here to learn more about our BSN program.