Infection Control Nurse Career Overview

Updated June 14, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Reviewed by Nicole Galan, RN, MSN
nurse journal badge

Our Review Network

NurseJournal is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across healthcare and education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.

With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal as a side project. All reviewers are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

See a full list of our Integrity Network contributors.

Infection control nurses, also known as infectious disease nurses, work to reduce the transmission of infections. They educate both healthcare staff and the public while overseeing best practices for control and prevention. Infection control nurse salaries, like other registered nurse (RN) salaries, are typically above the national average.

mini logo is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Infection Control Nurse Career Overview
Credit: Tempura / E+ / Getty Images

What Does an Infection Control Nurse Do?

ADN or BSN required
certification optional

Infection control nurses educate other healthcare professionals and staff, patients, and the public on preventing infections and either apply or recommend evidence-based best practices. Responsibilities for infection control nurse jobs may include the following:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Training and educating healthcare providers
  • Communicating with the public and patients on infection control
  • Overseeing safety practices such as handwashing
  • Managing internal infection prevention campaigns
  • Reviewing infection cases and recommending changes to avoid recurrences

Key Skills

  • Meticulous
  • Collaborative
  • Creativity
  • Foresight

Tempura / E+ / Getty Images

Where Do Infection Control Nurses Work?

Infection control nurses mostly find employment in hospitals, residential care facilities, and other healthcare settings, but they also work for government and emergency preparedness organizations.

  • Hospitals

    Infection control nurses direct infection control practices, advise colleagues, and educate patients.

  • Residential Care

    Infection control nurses manage sanitation and other infection control practices, keep colleagues up-to-date on latest developments, and problem solve for potential health risks.

  • Public Health Centers

    Infection control nurses serve as a resource for public officials and the public, establish sanitation protocols, and collaborate with government agencies and businesses on sanitation practices and disease prevention.

Featured Online MSN Programs

Why Become an Infection Control Nurse?

Infection control nurse jobs can be very gratifying because they play a vital role in public health. Additionally, infectious disease nurse salaries are typically above the U.S. average. However, one of the challenges of being an infection control nurse includes managing frustration when people, sometimes even healthcare professionals, do not comply with protocols.

Advantages to Becoming an Infection Control Nurse

  • High impact on public safety and health
  • Opportunities to innovate on safety campaigns and protocols
  • Public awareness and appreciation

Disadvantages to Becoming an Infection Control Nurse

  • Handling potentially stressful and frustrating situations when people do not follow best practices
  • Limited authority to mandate prevention guidelines
  • Can be difficult to track and trace infections

How to Become an Infection Control Nurse

Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN).
An ADN takes two years and a BSN takes four. Many infection control nurse jobs require the BSN.
Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive RN licensure.
This national exam covers health conditions, nursing practice, communications, and the legal and ethical aspects of nursing.
Gain nursing experience in infection prevention and control.
Infectious disease nurses get their first experience in entry-level jobs, working under the supervision of more experienced nurses or infectious disease nurse practitioners (NPs).
Consider earning certification in infection prevention and control.
The entry-level Associate - Infection Prevention and Control (a-IPC) certification is open to anybody without any prerequisites. The Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC) is designed for professionals with primary responsibility for infection control and at least two years of experience.
Advance your career by earning a graduate degree.
RNs can earn a master of science in nursing with an NP focus. Infectious disease NP salaries are considerably higher than infectious disease nurse salaries and infection control practitioners have more autonomy and responsibility.

Learn More About How To Become an Infection Control Nurse

How Much Do Infection Control Nurses Make?

The average annual salary for an infection control nurse is $72,152, comparable to the $73,300 median annual salary for all RNs. However, NPs generally earn a higher salary than RNs, including those who specialize in infection control. The median annual salary for nurse practitioners is $115,800.

Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 7% growth for all nursing jobs. It is possible but not certain that there may be a higher demand for infection control nurses post-COVID.

What Are the Six Core Competencies of an Infection Preventionist?

1. Professional Stewardship

Professional stewardship encompasses accountability, ethical standards, appropriate management of resources, and other forms of responsibility to the profession and to stakeholders.

2. Research

Research includes not just conducting and publishing research but evaluating others' research findings, understanding how to identify the most effective practices from research studies, and applying those findings as appropriate.

3. Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Operations

IPC operations includes all aspects of infection prevention control, such as routine cleaning and sterilization, epidemiology, appropriate use of antibiotics, and education.

4. Quality Improvement

Quality improvement is the discipline of consistently gathering and analyzing data about performance to identify improvement opportunities at every level of detail and complexity.

5. IPC Informatics

IPC informatics involves the gathering, storing, and analyzing of relevant data. This also includes finding new ways of gathering data, such as performing surveillance, to receive earlier detection and respond faster to infections.

6. Leadership

Leadership includes communication and critical thinking, understanding management and behavioral sciences, collaboration with various teams, program management, and mentorship.

Questions About a Career as an Infection Control Nurse

How long does it take to become an infection control nurse?

It takes two years for the ADN degree and four years for the BSN. Certification and upper-level infectious disease nurse positions require additional experience, typically at least two years for certification or to enter a master's or doctoral program.

What role do infection control nurses play during a pandemic?

During a pandemic, infectious disease nurse duties include communicating credibly about risk, rapidly identifying and evaluating new information and research findings, applying research as appropriate, and creating and improving new processes and approaches to infection control.

How long is an infection control certification good for?

An a-IPC certification is valid for three years and is not renewable; candidates are expected to get the CIC certification as the next step. CIC certification requires renewal every five years.

What traits are important for infection control nurses?

Infectious disease nurses must be good at processing information quickly, communicating with a variety of audiences, adapting to change, and using their authority to ensure that patients and staff understand and follow the appropriate procedures. Infection control nurses must understand and apply both clinical and behavioral sciences.

Resources for Infection Control Nurses

  • APIC's membership, which is open to infection preventionists at any level, includes infection control nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians, public health professionals, medical researchers, and medical technologists. APIC offers professional development opportunities, continuing education, and a career center. They also conduct research and advocate for infection control.
  • The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology administers the CIC certification process and offers educational resources for candidates. It collaborates with APIC, Infection Prevention and Control Canada, and the International Federation of Infection Control on the certification program development.
  • The Nursing Infection Control Education Network Project is a partnership among the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations to provide training to nurses on infection prevention. It hosts online education, conferences, and informational resources.
  • SHEA performs research, provides educational resources, offers awards and scholarship programs, and promotes best practices in healthcare epidemiology and antibiotic stewardship. Full membership is open to those with an advanced degree or equivalent, while other professionals can join as associate members.

Related Pages

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who earned a master's degree in nursing education from Capella University and currently works as a full-time freelance writer. Throughout her nursing career, Galan worked in a general medical/surgical care unit and then in infertility care. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students.

Galan is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

Popular Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.