Caring for infants, children and adolescents with acute and chronic illnesses is the main responsibility of pediatric nurses. But their role doesn’t stop at being caregivers. They often serve as educators and advocates for their patients, making sure families understand diagnoses and treatments, as well as ensuring their charges receive the best possible care. As expected, entry-level pediatric nurses earn less than their more seasoned counterparts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs averaged almost $68,000 a year in 2012. But this figure doesn’t account for specialty, nor does it account for experience. A 2011 survey in "Nursing" found pediatric nurses earned an average of $54,300 annually. Recent graduates, on the other hand, can expect to earn closer to $37,000 a year, notes "Discover Nursing," an online resource for nursing professionals.
Becoming a pediatric nurse is virtually the same as becoming a registered nurse. Training begins in a postsecondary program. Choose between an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). To prepare for a career in pediatrics, however, "Discover Nursing" recommends taking not only the required classes for the major, but also courses in child health and psychology. All RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to practice in a medical setting.
Though voluntary, nurses can choose to earn advanced certifications in the field, which both demonstrate a proficiency in a specialty and improve job opportunities. For pediatric nurses, these include Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) and Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN). Eligibility requirements vary by certification, but usually include a minimum number of hours in the specialty. For example, CPN candidates must accrue at least 1,800 hours of pediatric nursing experience, while CPEN candidates need at least 1,000 hours in pediatric emergency nursing.
Regardless of specialty, RNs can expect employment opportunities to grow by as much as 26 percent through 2020, reports the BLS. This is almost twice the growth rate of all U.S. occupations, a projected 14 percent. Nurses with a BSN should enjoy the best prospects, but those willing to relocate to under-served areas of the country should see similar opportunities.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Registered Nurses
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
- Nursing 2013: Nursing 2011 Salary and Benefits Survey Report
- Discover Nursing: Pediatric Nurse
- Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing: Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse Candidate Handbook
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board: Eligibility Requirements for CPN Certification
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