Pediatric Emergency Nurse Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
A pediatric emergency nurse's median annual salary is around $66,220, but is it worth the education and licensing requirements? Read real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a pediatric emergency nurse is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Pediatric Emergency Nursing

Registered nurses (RNs) have many career specialization options, including pediatric emergency nursing. Take a look at the pros and cons of this career field in order to make the best possible career choice.

Pros of Pediatric Emergency Nursing Careers
Excellent career prospects (19% expected growth from 2014-2024)*
Above average pay ($66,640 median salary as of May 2014)*
An associate's degree can grant career access*
Strong advancement opportunities and multiple nursing career specialties*
Signing bonuses are offered in some cases*

Cons of Pediatric Emergency Nursing Careers
Job can be incredibly stressful with death of infants possible**
Irregular, round-the-clock work hours may be necessary*
Advanced education may be required for best job opportunities*
Experience in specialty is necessary for many positions*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Society of Pediatric Nurses

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Pediatric emergency nurses (PENs) are responsible for a variety of tasks related to the emergency care of infants and toddlers. A child admitted into the ER may be suffering from any of a wide range of illnesses, including life-threatening conditions. For this reason alone, pediatric emergency care nurses must be well versed in a variety of medical techniques. PENs understand the growth and development that needs to occur within infants and children.

PENs also know how to immobilize injured patients and should be able to perform respiratory interventions and resuscitation techniques. They administer medication as well. Because children need more frequent monitoring than adults, PENs must be attentive and notice symptoms, particularly with children who aren't able to communicate their ailments.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career prospects are bright for pediatric emergency nurses. The number of employed RNs is expected to grow 16% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average. There is such a demand for nurses that many hospitals and other healthcare providers are offering signing bonuses and other incentives in order to attract applicants. Due to the nature of emergency care jobs, hospitals will continue to be the primary employer of PENs. However, smaller healthcare clinics and units may also be hiring.

In 2014, the BLS reported that the median salary for RNs was almost $66,640 per year. During this time, the top 10% of RNs made $98,880 or more per year; the bottom 10% earned $45,880 or less.

Education Requirements

Pediatric emergency nurses must be registered nurses. There are a few different ways to obtain the education and training necessary to gain this distinction, but according to the BLS, most aspiring RNs obtain an associate's degree in nursing (ADN). You can often complete an ADN program in two years, and the main admissions requirement is usually a high school diploma or its equivalent.

ADN programs are commonly available through community colleges, vocational institutions and even some universities. Your curriculum will include a combination of classroom and clinical or lab-based studies. These topics are commonly covered:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Types of patient care
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing ethics

Licensing Info

You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to be legally eligible for employment in the field. Continuing education is required in order to maintain nursing licensure. Individual states may have additional requirements, so be cognizant of these issues if you plan to move or work in a different state.

You can become a pediatric emergency nurse simply by pursuing work opportunities in the field, but many PENs eventually pursue professional certification. Once you've completed 1,000 hours of work experience in pediatric emergency nursing, you can take a voluntary certification exam offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Successfully passing the exam allows you to obtain the Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN) credential.

What Employers Are Looking For

A common requirement among employers is RN licensure and emergency room experience. Some job openings require additional certifications in basic life support (BLS). Listed below are examples of career postings available as of May 2012:

  • A hospital in New York City prefers an RN with pediatric nursing experience and a BSN.
  • A Maryland-based emergency department seeks a PEN with at least one year of experience. Position will provide care for neo-natal to young adult patients. The hours vary and current licensure is required.
  • A medical group in Florida is looking for an RN with at least two years of emergency room experience. Accepted applicants receive on-the-job training in pediatric emergency care.
  • An RN is needed for a California hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. This is a full-time, evening position that involves the development of long-term care plans. Candidates must have at least one year of recent work experience.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Advanced Education

Pediatric emergency nurses who only have an associate's degree may consider obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Obtaining advanced education can allow you to get a leg up in this career field, and employers often desire candidates with advanced degrees. BSN degree programs can give students a better understanding of patient care and nursing theory. Additionally, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs can take bachelor's-level training one step further; you can focus on research methods and advanced nursing techniques.

Certifications

There are a number of possible certifications that you can obtain in order to stand out. In addition to the CPEN, the American Heart Association's BLS or Advanced Cardiac Life Support credentials may give you an edge in a booming industry. Professional organizations and nursing societies may offer certifications as well.

Memberships

When it comes to looking for work and continuing education, gaining membership with a professional organization may help. Professional affiliation can be obtained with the Emergency Nurses Association or Society of Pediatric Nurses. These and other organizations offer access to continuing education courses, networking opportunities, seminars and job boards.

Alternative Career Choices

Licensed Practical Nurse

If you're interested in nursing but want less responsibility and easier entry requirements, consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). These professionals assist RNs and doctors by providing basic patient care. You can become an LPN through a diploma or certificate program in about a year. According to the BLS, the number of employed LPNs is expected to grow 22% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the average salary of an LPN was about $41,000.

Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrive at the scene of accidents or other healthcare emergencies and provide emergency care and transport. Basic EMT education and training can be completed in just a few weeks. Earning an associate's degree in this field can lead to paramedic licensure. Unfortunately, the pay is not as good as a nursing career. In May 2011, the BLS reported that EMTs and paramedics earn an average of roughly $31,000 per year.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

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    10. Queens University of Charlotte

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Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • Accelerated BSN to MSN
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate

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Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
  • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)

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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

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The University of Texas at Arlington

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Educaiton
  • RN to BSN

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences

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Utica College

  • RN to BSN

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Abilene Christian University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice - Advanced Practice Nurse
  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

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Northcentral University

  • Education Specialist - Nursing Education
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

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