Becoming a Pediatric Registered Nurse: Salary & Job Description

About this article
A pediatric nurse may earn an average salary of $69,790, but is it worth all the education and training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to see if a becoming a pediatric registered nurse is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career as a Pediatric Registered Nurse

A pediatric registered nurse may have to work variable shifts in a hectic, standing environment. While becoming a pediatric registered nurse can be a solid choice, it's still important to understand what to expect so you can make an informed career decision.

Pros of Being a Pediatric Registered Nurse
Faster than average employment growth (19% from 2012-2022)**
Higher than average salary ($69,790 in 2014)**
Help teach parents and children about healthy living or preventative medicine**
Play an integral role in the medical problem-solving process**

Cons of Being a Pediatric Registered Nurse
Requires emotional sensitivity to parents and children*
Relatively stressful and emotionally investing occupation**
Risk to coming in contact with infectious diseases**
Unusual hours or on-call for emergencies**

Sources: *O*NET OnLine, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who focuses on treating young patients, such as children or teenagers. These specialized nurses help coordinate patient care and give medical advice to the parents and guardians, as well as the patient, about their care or illness.

While a child or teenager is staying at a hospital or clinic, the pediatric RN checks on patient vitals, administers medicine at appropriate times and records the patient's overall health during their stay. The nurse may also check on equipment to ensure that it is operating correctly.

Job Prospects and Salary

The BLS stated in 2014 that all RNs, including those who worked in pediatrics, earned an average salary of $69,790. In the same year, the wholesale electronic markets/agents and brokers industry offered the highest average salary for these RNs at $84,200. The BLS predicted that employment for all registered nurses would grow by 19% between 2012-2022. Part of this job growth may be due to advances in modern technology.

Career Requirements

The BLS states that all RNs need to hold a diploma or degree in nursing, as well as a nursing license. Programs that stress pediatrics are helpful, but you should be prepared to learn other medical specializations, such as cardiovascular nursing or nephrology.

Licensing is done through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which offers the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Specific eligibility requirements for the NCLEX-RN are set by individual states, but generally include nursing training and a number of clinical hours.

What Do Employers Look for?

Besides proper licensing in the state, pediatric RNs should be well trained in general medicine and treatment. Some jobs may want a RN who has specialized knowledge or experience in cardiovascular, respiratory or gastrointestinal health. This is especially important when treating small children who may experience early childhood illnesses or begin to show signs of medical conditions from their infancy.

Some nursing positions might require you to work in certain conditions, such as providing home care for young patients or working late night and early morning shifts. Some recent job postings as of March 2012 include:

  • A Massachusetts pediatric RN is needed to help with adolescent children with respiratory problems. The RN needs to know how to use a tracheotomy for the patients.
  • A New Jersey home nursing company needs a pediatric RN to make home-care visits to patients. The position requires helping a specific client who requires home care. The RN should also be certified.
  • A New York medical center needs a pediatric RN who is also an expert in gastroenterology. The RN needs to have office experience, especially on the phone, and needs to demonstrate sufficient and clear communication skills with parents on a child's ailment.

How to Beat the Competition

The BLS recommends that one strategy to beat the competition in the job market is to attain certification, such as the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) or the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) in the pediatric nursing specialty credentials.

The RN-BC specialty pediatric nurse certification will require pediatric practice hours and continuing education credits in pediatrics, while the CPN credential also requires practice hours and an examination. Certification is generally voluntary, but it highlights your ability to meet higher professional standards.

Other Careers to Consider

Licensed Practical Nurse

If you want to help patients directly, but do not want the responsibilities of a pediatric RN, you may want to choose a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). According to the BLS, a LPN works under the direction of a RN and administers the direct care needed for a patient. The academic training to become a LPN is shorter than the training needed to become a RN, requiring about a year of nursing training at a vocational or community college. The average salary for this position was $42,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.

Physician Assistant

Another career that is similar to an RN is a physician assistant (PA). In this career you would work directly under the supervision of a physician and provide some care to a patient. The major responsibility of PAs is to evaluate patients and prescribe medicine or care. However, the scope of their responsibilities requires them to be licensed under different national regulations, which includes having a master's degree and some previous healthcare experience, as well as passing a national exam.

Physician assistants generally earn more than a registered nurse with BLS data from May 2011 showing a physician assistant earned an average salary around $89,000. Pediatric physician assistants can also directly help and provide medical treatment to a child if a doctor is not present in the medical office.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    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
      • 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)
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
    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
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Online Programs Available
    3. The University of Texas at Arlington

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration
      • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Educaiton
    Bachelor's
      • RN to BSN
  • Online Programs Available
    4. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. South University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Nursing Practice (DNP)
    Master's
      • Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
      • RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN)
      • Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
      • Nursing with a specialization in Nurse Administrator (MSN)
      • Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Informatics (MSN)
      • RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate Degree in Nursing
    Certificate
      • Practical Nursing
      • Vocational Nursing
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Undecided
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Administrator
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader Certificate
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • Campus Locations:
    9. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in Practical Nursing
      • Diploma in Assistance in Health Care Facilities - Assistance la Personne en tablissement de Sant
      • Diploma in Health Care Aide
      • Diploma in Health Care Assistant
      • Diploma in Health, Assistance & Nursing Sant, Assistance et Soins Infirmiers
  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • Accelerated BSN to MSN
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

South University

  • Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
  • RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Fortis College

  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Practical Nursing
  • Vocational Nursing

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Undecided
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Administrator
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader

What is your highest level of education completed?