Neonatal Care Nursing + Salary, Careers & Jobs Outlook

A neonatal intensive care nurse provides highly specialized care for premature and very ill newborns in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) of a hospital. Premature babies require immediate medical care, and a neonatal intensive care nurse helps to provide them with care and technology that assists their breathing. They also provide care so that the infants are able to be fed via IV. This is critical so that these critical patients can gain weight, and increase their chance of survival.

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Day in The Life Of A Neonatal Nurse

The majority of NICU nurses are staff RNs who are responsible also for newborn babies that have congenital defects and complications in delivery. Some of the most important roles for NICU nurses include:

  • Formulate nursing care plans

  • Assess, plan and implement effectiveness of treatment

  • Administer medicines, do complex procedures and work with lifesaving technology

  • Provide, comfort, education and reassurance to families

Where NICU Nurses Work

A NICU nurse can work in either a Level II or Level III NICU. A Level II NICU is intended for infants that are less kill, and might need help with breathing, feeding or with medications. These types of NICUs are usually located in community hospitals.

Level III NICUs are usually in the largest medical centers and also in children’s hospitals. The infants in these facilities require very sophisticated care.

RNs in a Level II NICU may work on three or four patients at once, but in a Level III, the nurse will work will only one or two patients.

Job Opportunities & Salary Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the field of nursing overall will grow rapidly by 2020, with a 26% increase in nursing jobs.It is expected that NICUs across the country will continue to expand, as technology is improving. This means that newborns who a few years ago probably would not have survived, will now have a better chance to live a full life. This should help to keep the demand for NICU nurses strong for the foreseeable future.

Many NICU nurses can eventually become a nursing supervisor or charge nurse. You also may eventually move into more advanced nursing practice roles or possibly work as a discharge planner.

The median salary for all RNs according to BLS is $64,000. The maximum salary for nurses, usually in advanced practice and at least with a master of science in nursing, is around $95,000. NICU nurses require more training than regular nurses, so you can expect to earn quite a bit higher than the minimum nurse salary, around $44,000. reports that the average salary for NICU nurses is $66,000:


Related Jobs & Salaries

What is the average salary of jobs with related salaries?


  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $66,000
  • Nurse Practitioner Neonatal Icu – $109,000
  • Labor & Delivery Nurse – $66,000
  • Labor Delivery Nurse – $64,000
  • Nicu Clinical Nurse Specialist – $124,000
  • Pediatric Operating Room Nurse – $62,000
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner – $105,000
  • Pediatrics Nursing – $57,000
  • Nurse Practitioner Nicu – $105,000
  • Nursery Nurse – $61,000
  • RN Flight Nurse Specialist – $170,000
  • RN UP – $111,000
  • RN RN Nicu UP – $99,000
  • Occupational Health Nurse – $59,000

Essential Skills

  • Be very adept at handling stress, as NICU work is very tough and demanding. It can be particularly challenging when a nurse must deal with a newborn that will probably not survive.

  • Be highly flexible – your workload and number of patients can vary widely by day.

  • Be highly skilled in communication and education, especially as you teach families how to care for their infants.

  • Pay high attention to detail: very precise documentation of care is a vital part of nursing in the NICU.

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