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8 Careers for Pediatric Nurses with Post-Graduate Degrees

Rebecca Munday
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Updated February 24, 2023
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    Pediatric nurses who earn a graduate degree can pursue advanced nursing roles and specialties. Discover some of the most popular opportunities in this guide.
    Credit: FamVeld / Getty Images

    Pediatric nurses pursuing advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles have a wide selection of career paths available. Nurses with advanced degrees typically earn higher salaries and have more career advancement opportunities than those with bachelor’s degrees alone.

    Nurse practitioners (NPs) are projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade with employment increasing by 46% between 2021-2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

    If you’re a pediatric nurse and want to continue working with children as an APRN, you have several options besides becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP).

    We ranked the best direct-care pediatric APRN specialities based on the following factors:

    • Responsibilities working with children
    • Average annual salary
    • Job growth
    • Steps to become
    • Recommended nursing certifications
    • Career traits for success

    APRNs who work with children need similar skills as pediatric nurses and registered nurses. The most common skills for pediatric APRNs include:

    • Communication
    • Critical thinking
    • Teamwork
    • Empathy
    • Leadership

    8 Careers for Pediatric Nurses with Advanced Degrees

    Find out which pediatric specialty is right for you by reviewing the following careers:

    1. Pediatric Nurse Anesthetist

    Pediatric nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and monitor children’s reactions during surgeries and other procedures that require general or local anesthesia. They carry out physical exams and learn patients’ histories to determine allergies and safely administer anesthesia.

    • Average Annual Salary: $202,470 according to the BLS
    • Job Growth: 12% from 2021-2031
    • How to Become: Nurse anesthetists need a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) and 2-3 years of critical care experience before they complete a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or doctor of nursing anesthesia practice (DNAP) program and pass the national CRNA certification exam.
    • Certification: Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
    • Career traits: Critical thinking, teamwork, decision making, communication

    2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

    Neonatal NPs care for premature and newborn babies with certain complications such as fetal alcohol syndrome or surgery. They supervise neonatal registered nurses and other nursing staff, educate families, coordinate infant care with other healthcare professionals, and plan discharge for high-risk newborns.

    • Median Annual Salary: $122,500 according to the AANP
    • Job Growth: 46% for all NPs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete a master of science in nursing (MSN) or DNP and take the NNP certification exam to become board certified.
    • Certification: Neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP)
    • Career Traits: Communication, good judgment, empathy, stamina

    3. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

    Psychiatric mental health NPs care for children with mental health conditions. They order diagnostic testing, diagnose children, educate children and their families about mental health conditions, prescribe treatments and medications, and collaborate with physicians.

    • Average Annual Salary: $118,454 as of January 2023, according to Payscale
    • Job Growth: 46% for all NPs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs have a BSN and 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete an MSN or DNP and take the PMHNP certification exam to become board certified.
    • Certification: Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP)
    • Career Traits: Empathy, integrity, communication, adaptability

    4. Certified Nurse Midwife

    Certified nurse midwives deliver babies and assist OBGYNs with deliveries depending on whether they work in a hospital or birthing center. They also provide prenatal and postnatal care for patients and their babies.

    • Average Annual Salary: $114,210 according to the BLS
    • Job Growth: 7% between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete an MSN or DNP and take the CNM certification.
    • Certification: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
    • Career Traits: Communication, leadership, patience, empathy

    5. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

    Pediatric acute care NPs care for children in acute care settings such as inpatient units or emergency rooms. They prescribe medications, perform physical assessments, manage children’s care, and may even prep children for surgery.

    • Average Annual Salary: $108,128 as of January 2023 according to Payscale
    • Job Growth: 46% for all NPs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete MSN or DNP and take the NP certification exam.
    • Certification: Certified pediatric nurse practitioner – acute care (CPNP-AC)
    • Career Traits: Critical thinking, communication, interpersonal skills, knowledgeable

    6. Family Nurse Practitioner

    Family NPs provide primary care for patients across the entire lifespan in outpatient health clinics, physician’s offices, or hospitals. They work with other members of the healthcare team to take patient histories, order lab tests, diagnose patients, perform physical exams, and create and manage care plans.

    • Average Annual Salary: $99,936 as of January 2023 according to Payscale
    • Job Growth: 46% for all NPs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete MSN or DNP and take the FNP board certification exam.
    • Certification: Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
    • Career Traits: Communication, decision making, critical thinking, teamwork

    7. Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

    Pediatric primary care NPs provide primary care for infants and children up to the age of 21. PNPs work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate care for children and educate patients and families. They order diagnostic testing, prescribe medications, and perform physical exams on children.

    • Average Annual Salary: $96,041 as of January 2023 according to Payscale
    • Job Growth: 46% for all NPs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete MSN or DNP and take the NP certification exam.
    • Certification: Primary care certified pediatric nurse practitioner (CPNP-PC)
    • Career Traits: Leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, empathy

    8. Clinical Nurse Specialist

    Pediatric clinical nurse specialists provide or help provide patient care to children. They educate patients, families, and community members. For example, allergy and asthma nurse specialists teach patients and families about food allergies and how to use EpiPens. They serve in leadership roles such as preceptors to nursing students, nurse researchers, and nurse educators in patient care or academic settings.

    • Average Annual Salary: $95,867 as of January 2023 according to Payscale
    • Job Outlook: 40% for all APRNs between 2021-2031
    • How to Become: These APRNs earn a BSN and have 1-3 years of nursing experience before they complete MSN or DNP and take the CNS certification exam.
    • Certification: Acute care clinical nurse specialist – pediatric (ACCNS-P)
    • Career Traits: Communication, critical thinking, resourcefulness, and leadership

    The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Shortage and the Need for More PNPs

    The BLS projects 46% job growth for NPs between 2021-2031, which is much higher than average for all occupations. More than 69% of NPs specialize in family medicine but less than 5% specialize in pediatrics, according to the 2020 AANP National NP Sample Survey.

    Family medicine nurse practitioners provide care for children and adults. However, most family medicine NPs see adult and adolescent patients, which may leave a shortage of providers for children. We’ve outlined the top NP specialties based on AANP’s report:

    1. 1Family (69.7%)
    2. 2Adult (10.8%)
    3. 3Adult — Gerontology Primary Care (7%)
    4. 4Psychiatric Mental Health (4.7%)
    5. 5Acute Care (4.1%)
    6. 6Pediatric — Primary Care (3.2%)

    More pediatricians are collaborating with PNPs than they did in the early 2000s, according to a 2019 Journal of Pediatric Healthcare paper. The paper also notes that pediatricians and hospital administrators intend to hire more PNPs in the future and expand their scope of practice.

    Many nursing programs fold their pediatric nurse practitioner education into their family medicine programs. FNPs can care for children, but without the same specialized knowledge and expertise as PNPs, they require longer orientations.

    FNPs may also be less confident caring for children than PNPs. FNPs can take a post-MSN certification in pediatric primary care to increase their knowledge of pediatrics and confidence working with young children.

    PNPs are also critical to ending the provider shortage because NPs are more likely to specialize in primary care than physicians.

    Frequently Asked Questions


    Which NP specialty is the highest paid?

    Pediatric primary care mental health nurses are the highest paid NP specialty. They make an average base salary of $129,000, according to AANP’s 2020 salary report.

    What is the least stressful NP specialty?

    Primary care nurse practitioners and other NP specialties who work in outpatient settings may experience less stress because they have more regular hours, fewer emergencies, and fewer calls outside of their regular schedule.

    Are pediatric nurse practitioners in demand?

    Yes, pediatric nurse practitioners are in demand. The BLS projects all NP jobs to grow an outstanding 46% from 2021-2031. According to AANP’s 2020 sample survey, only 4.9% of NPs specialize in pediatrics.

    What is the most prestigious nurse?

    Nurses with a DNP or other doctoral degree are among the most prestigious nurses. They typically enjoy higher earnings, more career advancement opportunities, and increased responsibility, leadership, and independence than other nurses.


    Page Last Reviewed on January 11, 2023