How to become a pediatric nurse

A Pediatric nurse (PED) works with children, from 0 to 21 years of age in a variety of healthcare settings. There are opportunities for PEDs (pediatric nurses) to work in both preventative and acute health care settings with children. There are two types of pediatric nurses, those with undergraduate training and those who have pursued training and certification at the graduate level.

In addition to ability to care for children, patients need to have excellent interpersonal skills and ability to relate to all ages as their duties will often include working with anxious parents and guardians.

How long does it take to become a pediatric nurse?

Becoming a pediatric nurse at the undergraduate level requires four years of study. Though students can become a licensed and registered nurse in just two years by earning an associate’s degree, students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree have a better opportunity to gain work as a pediatric nurse. Though there is no certification at the undergraduate level, there are steps a student can take towards a career in pediatrics if that is their ultimate goal.

First, during undergraduate education, aspiring PEDs should take as many classes related to caring for and working with children as possible. Courses in child psychology are ideal. After earning their RN qualification, an aspiring pediatric nurse should try to find a career in a pediatric unit of a hospital or with a pediatrician’s private practice. Many hospitals and clinics offer internship or training programs for Registered Nurses interested in working as a pediatric nurse. Joining a pediatric nurse professional association is also a great way to network with other nurses to obtain experience.

Once a student has training as a pediatric nurse, the nurse can pursue certification through the Pediatric Nursing Board. This certification exam is designed specifically for nurses who work as a pediatric nurse to demonstrate training and expertise in pediatrics. Though not required, certification helps nurses demonstrate their skill in a particular area.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

For students interested in pursuing an official title of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, they will need to pursue a master’s degree program which offers training at the graduate level. Most PNP (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) programs are two years, and extensively cover working with children and understanding their growth and development. This is because PNPs, in addition to working with children as part of their healthcare team, can also prescribe, diagnose and treat children. Once the graduate program is complete, a nurse can pursue certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Certification is required for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner title.

How much does a pediatric nurse make?

Pediatric nurses at the undergraduate level will earn the same salary as RNs of other specialties. The salary of an RN pediatric nurse can best be determined by their experience level and location. Graduate level pediatric nurse practitioners can earn upwards of $60K in their first year of practice.

What are other career options for the pediatric nurse?

In addition to pursuing further education as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, PEDs can work as a speaker or instructor to students who aspire to be pediatric nurses. As a pediatric nurse, it is important to stay involved in continuing education to stay abreast of developments in the field.