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How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

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When it comes to child development, illnesses and injuries in infants, children and adolescents, the pediatric nurse is a recognized expert. She might be a hospital nurse working in a newborn nursery or inpatient pediatric unit, a staff nurse in a pediatric clinic or doctor’s office, or an advanced practice nurse providing primary care, but in every setting, it’s all about the kids. To become a pediatric nurse, she must first become a registered nurse, then obtain additional training and experience in pediatrics and sit for a specialty exam.

Basic Nursing Education

To become a pediatric nurse, you must first become a registered nurse. The first option is a nursing diploma from a school of nursing, and the second option is an associate degree in nursing. These two educational programs typically take two years, although some diploma programs last three years. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that RNs who obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing as their basic education are likely to have more employment opportunities. A bachelor’s degree in nursing will take four years.

Find Additional Training

Although all nurses receive some education about children during their initial training, pediatric nurses need additional training and experience to become truly proficient in this field. Some colleges and schools of nursing offer additional elective rotations in clinical areas for senior students who have an interest in a particular aspect of nursing. If your school does offer such rotations, choose one in inpatient pediatrics, the newborn nursery, neonatal intensive care nursery or a pediatric clinic to add to your basic knowledge.

Licensing and Certification

Once you graduate, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, to become a registered nurse. Although not required for practice, certification is considered a mark of knowledge and competence. You can become certified through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To sit for the PNCB certification, you must have a valid RN license and 1,800 hours of pediatric nursing experience. The cost was $295 in 2014. The ANCC certification costs $270 for American Nurses Association members and $395 for non-members. You must have a valid RN license, two years’ experience as an RN and 2,000 hours of pediatric experience, as well as 30 hours of continuing education in the three years prior to attempting the exam.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS reports future demand is expected to be higher than average for RNs, although it does not differentiate among nursing specialties such as pediatrics. Demand for RNs is projected to be 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. In comparison, the average demand for all occupations is projected at 11 percent for the same period. The job site Indeed reports pediatric RNs earned an average annual salary of $65,000 in 2014.

2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses

Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.