Pediatric Nurse Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in pediatric nursing? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a pediatric nurse is right for you.
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Becoming a pediatric registered nurse (RN) can be a highly rewarding career choice. You'll need to weigh these positives against the cons below in order to decide if this is a career for you.

PROS of a Career in Pediatric Nursing
Wide variety of places to work***
Much faster-than-average job growth (19% projected between 2012 and 2022)*
Higher-than-average salaries (about $69,000 for nurses as of 2014)*
Jobs are available with an associate's degree*

CONS of a Career in Pediatric Nursing
Lengthy education requirements for some positions (6+ years)*
Shift work is possible*
Continuing education and licensing requirements**
Exposure to diseases and other workplace hazards*
Physically demanding work*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **National Council of State Boards of Nursing, ***Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

Career Options and Descriptions

As a pediatric nurse, you would participate in all levels of care for babies, children, adolescents and their families. You would handle initial meetings with new patients, set up care plans and coordinate with other medical professionals to treat and monitor the health of your patients. Pediatric nurses work in hospitals, pediatricians' and pediatric specialists' offices and schools.

With additional education, pediatric nurses can work as advanced-practice nurses in a variety of areas, including as nurse-midwives, providing care to newborns and their moms. This type of work generally requires a master's degree and passage of exams, but would allow you the freedom to work independently, prescribe medications and provide primary care.

Salary and Job Prospects Information

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates, there were about 2,687,310 registered nurses practicing in the U.S. as of 2014. The BLS reported that registered and advanced practice nurses earned a median salary of almost $66,000 a year, with the bottom 10% of nurses earning around $45,000 and the top 10% earning almost $98,000. The BLS projected that job opportunities in nursing were expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022.

Education and Licensing

All nurses must be licensed to work in the U.S. or its territories. To become licensed as an RN, you'll need to earn an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing at an approved school and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Nursing degree programs will include classes in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry and psychology, along with supervised clinical experiences in hospital departments, such as pediatrics, surgery and maternity.

Nursing licenses are governed by state regulations and you will need to know your own state's regulations regarding renewals and acceptance of transfers, should you want to move. Certification in Basic Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support is often required and may be done as part of your initial training. This certification will need to be kept up-to-date.

Skills

Nurses need to be competent and compassionate. You need to be able to accurately provide and record treatment, juggle multiple patients at the same time (depending upon your work place) and keep up-to-date with new technologies. Good verbal and written communications skills are required, both for record-keeping and patient instructions, as is patience, because you are most likely treating patients who are ill and out of sorts.

What Do Employers Look For?

Medical professionals looking to hire nurses typically request proof of licensure and several years of experience. Shift work and the ability to coordinate with team members were also highlighted in postings. A sampling of job openings in November 2012 is below:

  • A Los Angeles hospital advertised for a registered nurse to work in pediatrics. Current California RN license, basic life support card (BLS) and other certifications (upon hire or within 90 days of hire) were required, along with six months of pediatric experience in an acute care setting. An associate's degree was required and duties would include supervision of other staff.
  • A Houston hospital posted an opening for a pediatric nurse with a Texas license and BLS certification plus one year of experience. Job duties included coordinating care delivery, working with a multi-disciplinary team and ensuring safe care to patients.
  • An Ohio pediatric practice sought a pediatric RN to do patient vitals, administer vaccines and treatments and draw blood. Experience with medical records and pediatrics/family practice was required.
  • A New York City health center looked for a clinical coordinator/pediatric RN to provide patient care and direct the operation of the unit. A bachelor's degree was preferred and three years of pediatric experience and one year of supervisory experience were required as a minimum. Ability to work late one night per week and one Saturday every six weeks was also required.

Add Specializations or Credentials

Cross training in specializations will generally widen the number and type of jobs you can apply for. Earning a certificate or taking continuing education coursework in related pediatric specialties, such as surgery, oncology, neonatal care or pediatric palliative care would all stand out on a resume.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board oversees certification exams for pediatric nurses, and passage of the exam should show proficiency to prospective employers.

Add Languages

Knowledge of Spanish or any other language commonly spoken in your geographic region will be helpful, both in getting hired and in doing your job. Increasingly, job ads are noting that knowledge of a second language is desirable.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

If you aren't ready to commit to the education required to become a pediatric RN, you may wish to look into licensed practical (or vocational) nursing. You'd need to complete a diploma program, which takes around a year, and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. The BLS reported a 22% job growth projection for the field between 2010 and 2020, and a median salary of just over $41,000 for LPNs as of May 2011.

Physician Assistant (PA)

If working more independently is appealing and you're willing to commit to earning a master's degree, becoming a PA may be a good career choice. This is a field that has been projected to grow by 30% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS, and with a median reported salary almost $89,000 per year, it pays well also. PAs work under the supervision of doctors, and are trained to examine, diagnose and treat patients. You will need to take and pass a certifying examination to become licensed as a PA.

Pediatrician

Pediatricians treat infants, children and adolescents both in clinics and doctor's offices. This type of work requires a medical degree which can take 7-12 years of post-graduate work (depending upon the specialization) and licensure. The BLS projected a 24% growth in job opportunities between 2010 and 2020, and reported a median wage of around $192,000 for doctors practicing pediatric/adolescent medicine in 2010.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • Accelerated BSN to MSN
      • MS in Nursing - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Science - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master of Science - DNP Adult Nurse Practitioner
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
    Certificate
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
      • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
      • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Leadership & Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Educator
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
      • B.S. in Professional Studies - Nursing Home Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northern Illinois University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
    Master's
      • Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
      • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing for RNs
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Education Specialist - Nursing Education
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Independence University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Nursing Administration (MS)
      • Nursing Education (MS)
    Bachelor's
      • Nursing (RN completion to BS) (RN req.)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

  • Iowa City, IA

    University of Iowa

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Leadership & Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

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Northern Illinois University

  • Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing for RNs

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Northcentral University

  • Education Specialist - Nursing Education

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Grand Canyon University

  • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
  • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
  • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education

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Herzing University

  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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Independence University

  • Nursing Administration (MS)
  • Nursing Education (MS)
  • Nursing (RN completion to BS) (RN req.)

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Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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