What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Rebecca Munday
Updated October 4, 2022
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Pediatric nurses work with children of all ages with various conditions. Learn if a career in pediatric nursing is right for you.
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How Long to Become

2-4 years

Job Outlook

6% growth from 2021-2031

Average Annual Salary

$60,070 as of September 2022

A pediatric nurse is a nurse who works with children from infancy through age 18. The nurse sees patients with various conditions, in a variety of developmental stages.

Pediatric nurses use empathy, patience, and communication skills to explain to patients and parents about treatment plans and diagnoses. Their connection with their patients makes them important for their patients’ health and builds future relationships.

If you enjoy working with children and are excited by the challenge of constantly changing minds and bodies, pediatric nursing may be for you. Find out what pediatric nurses do, where they work, and how you can become a pediatric nurse.

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What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

adn or bsn required
Certification recommended

Pediatric nurses work with children from the time they are infants until the age of 18. Some pediatric nurses may work in health clinics that treat children until the age of 21.

Pediatric nurses focus on keeping patients as healthy as possible. They also assist physicians in creating and carrying out plans to keep patients healthy throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Most pediatric nurses work in primary care and see patients with all kinds of conditions. Pediatric nurses, who specialize in a subspeciality like pediatric oncology nursing, pediatric critical care nursing, or neonatal critical care nursing, see a narrower variety of conditions based on their subspecialty.

closeup of nurse hands on computer keyboard

JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images

Key Responsibilities

  • Teach parents how to care for their child in person and over the phone
  • Collect and record patients’ health information and vital signs
  • Perform physical exams on patients
  • Give medication and other treatments
  • Comfort children who may be scared or confused

Career Traits

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Empathy
  • Attention to detail
  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to cope with stress under pressure

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Pediatric nurses work in all types of healthcare settings: community hospitals, specialty hospitals, and outpatient centers, etc.

Community and Teaching Hospitals

Most nurses work in this setting. Nurses in teaching hospitals will likely have longer shifts. They may work nights and weekends. They care for patients before and after surgery, participate in rounds with doctors, and give IV medications.

Specialty Hospitals

Nurses work about the same hours and perform similar tasks as they would in community hospitals. However, they may provide more intensive care for patients. Their patients may have varying health needs such as end-of-life care, cancer, or developmental disabilities.

Physician’s Offices or Outpatient Care Centers

Nurses in physician’s offices and outpatient care centers often work regular business hours. They may see the same patients on a routine basis for either primary or specialty care. They greet patients, schedule appointments, and answer parents’ questions by phone in addition to their other nursing duties.

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse?

To become a pediatric nurse, you must first become a registered nurse (RN). To be an RN, you need to earn a degree, pass the NCLEX-RN, and apply for a license.

You need at least a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) to take the NCLEX-RN and earn your license. You may find more job openings if you earn your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) instead, which takes four years to complete.

After graduation, pass the NCLEX-RN and apply for your RN license in your state. Once you have your license, you can consider getting additional certifications. Nurse managers prefer certified pediatric nurses 90% of the time, according to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

Pediatric nurses should consider applying for the Pediatric Nursing Board Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, or the Certified Pediatric Nurse certification from the PNCB.

Both certifications require nurses to hold a current unrestricted license and at least two years of full-time pediatric nursing experience.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board requires 1800 hours of pediatric nursing experience within the last two years. The American Nurses Credentialing Center requires 2000 hours of pediatric nursing experience within the last three years and 30 hours of continuing education.

How Much Do Pediatric Nurses Make?

Pediatric nurses make an average of $29 an hour, according to September 2022 Payscale data. They make an average of $67,500 annually.

The highest-paid pediatric nurses make $90,000 annually. The lowest-paid pediatric nurses make $45,000 annually.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 6% job growth for all registered nurses between 2021 and 2031.

Pediatric nurses’ salaries vary based on skills and experience level. Employers pay nurses with experience in neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care, and surgery more than average.

Nurses with neonatal intensive care experience can earn 22% more than average, according to Payscale data from September 2022. Nurses with pediatric intensive care experience may earn 18% higher-than-average salaries. Nurses with experience in surgery can earn 11% more than average.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric Nurses

question-mark-circleWhat do pediatric nurses focus on?

Pediatric nurses focus on working with doctors, parents, and patients to help patients get and stay as healthy as they possibly can into adulthood.

question-mark-circleWhy is being a pediatric nurse hard?

Pediatric nurses must learn and remember a lot about all the different stages of child development. Pediatric nurses need many interpersonal skills to explain treatments and diagnoses in a calm, comforting manner.

question-mark-circleWhat is the job outlook for a pediatric nurse?

The BLS projects a 6% job growth for RNs across all specialties between 2021 and 2031.

question-mark-circleWhat does a typical day look like for a pediatric nurse?

Pediatric nurses examine patients, record health information and vitals, treat patients, educate patients and parents, and comfort patients on a daily basis. Yet, pediatric nurses do not have typical days because their patients vary so much in age, health status, and developmental stage.

Page Last Reviewed: September 27, 2022

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