How to become a NICU nurse - salary (2023)

Become a NICU nurse

What are the training requirements for a neonatal intensive care nurse?

To become a neonatal intensive care nurse, you must first be a registered nurse (RN) with aBachelor's Degree in Nursing (ADN)o einsBachelor of Science in Pflege (BSN). Hospitals that contract for neonatal intensive care will prioritize RNs who have obtained their BSN over those who only have DNA. Although certification is not always required for nurses to work in NICU settings, many NICU nurses are required to have a minimum number of years of clinical experience in institutional settings.

  • Newborn care programs
  • Post-Master's Programs in Neonatal Nursing

Are certifications or proofs required?

Upon receipt of an ADN or BSN, individuals are eligible to take the National Board Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN). By taking and passing onExame NCLEX-RN, Individuals can later apply for their Registered Nursing License.

National Certification Corporation (NCC)requires the following credentials for individuals to be eligible to take the neonatal intensive care-specific RNC-NIC exam:

  • Must currently be a Registered Nurse in the US or Canada
  • Must have worked in some area of ​​neonatology within the past two years.
  • Must have at least one of the following: At least 2,000 hours of experience in neonatology in direct patient care, administration, teaching, or research. OR at least two years experience working directly with severely affected infants as a Registered Nurse

Read on for more explanationsCertifications for Neonatal Nurses.

Frequently asked questions about NICU nurses

A day in the life of a NICU nurse is unpredictable and can be both overwhelming and rewarding. At the start of the round, go through safe doors to a locked unit. You must first stop at the sink area to scrub your hands and arms from fingertips to elbows with antiseptic and antimicrobial soap for a full minute, as if you are performing surgery.

Most NICU assignments consist of one to three patients, depending on the baby's visual acuity. You may have three "growing feeders" or one very sick baby who is on life support. Some days you might find yourself at the admissions nurse and start the day caring for a very early birth.

The NICU has a strict schedule for feeding and monitoring vital signs, minimizing the number of interruptions. Days in the NICU are typically divided into three- or four-hour periods, depending on "hands-on" baby care. Babies who are orally fed usually eat every three to four hours, while sicker or very premature babies are given less hands-on attention to reduce overstimulation. All babies are continuously monitored in the NICU, and each baby is placed on a cardiorespiratory monitor to measure their heart rate and breathing. Other babies may need constant monitoring of heart rate and oxygen, invasive monitoring of blood pressure and temperature, or CO2 levels.

As newborns with acute illnesses require more focused care, NICU nurses generally have a lower nurse-to-patient ratio than floor nurses. The number of babies a NICU nurse is responsible for may vary based on state regulations and facilities. For example, statutory care-to-patient ratios determine the maximum number of patients a caregiver can care for at one time. In California, for example, neonatal unit nurses are only allowed to care for a maximum of two babies.

However, some facilities implement their staffing ratios based on acuity systems. NICUs classify patients' visual acuity into "levels," usually from 1 to 4. For example, newborns with the greatest need for care (level 3 or 4) may be the only patients assigned to an ICU nurse. Intubated or postoperative babies may even receive two nurses, depending on the case. Infants with less acute needs (ie "drinkers and babies") may be one of two or three patients per caregiver.

Because critical care requires more attention and care at the bedside, nurses should be aware of their state's relationship laws as well as their facility's relationship standards. Asking for help and reporting unsafe placements is essential in an intensive care setting, especially with vulnerable newborns.

It takes a special kind of person to face the daily challenges of working in a NICU. One of the biggest challenges, especially in state-of-the-art NICUs, is caring for babies who are struggling to survive. Sometimes babies don't survive even using the most advanced technology. Nurses and NPs build a relationship not only with the baby, but also with parents and family members. When a baby dies, the pain and loss nurses feel can be significant. Caregivers need to be able to offer comfort to families and also be comforted by their support systems.

Caring for critically ill babies is also emotionally draining. The challenge of caregiver stress and burnout is also important. Nurses may feel depressed, anxious or irritable at home. Being able to identify nurses' burnout and find healthy outlets for stress is critical to the psychological well-being of nurses in the NICU.

Alert fatigue is another challenge. nurses &NPLong working hours. NICUs have several alarms that sound to guide caregiver intervention. Although alarms are set to keep patients safe, alarm fatigue sometimes puts patients at risk. Over time, caregivers can become desensitized to audible alarms and risk ignoring, ignoring, or ignoring them. Frequently, repetitive alarms lose their urgency for caregivers who spend hours listening to them. Fortunately, many facilities employ strategies to reduce caregiver alert fatigue.

Where do NICU nurses work?

NICU nurses find employment in public and private hospitals. Occasionally, though rarely, NICU nurses work in home health services or even as part of emergency medical teams. Here is a list of the most common places you can find NICU nurses:

  • hospitals
  • neonatal intensive care units
  • Community Health Organizations
  • transport and medical evacuation services
  • home service

What does a NICU nurse do?

Neonatal critical care nurses typically assume the following roles:

  • Provide comfort, support and care for newborns who may have serious health problems.
  • Communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals as part of a larger NICU team
  • Administer treatments and medications prescribed by physicians.
  • Inform mothers and other family members of patients about child care.
  • Use state-of-the-art equipment and machinery and technological devices

What are the roles and duties of NICU nurses?

The different levels of neonatal care and the type of work associated with each level are described below:

  • Level I NICU (Basic Newborn Care) - Registered nurses specialize in the postnatal care of healthy newborns. In these facilities, newborns help maintain the stability of physiologically healthy newborns between 35 and 37 weeks of gestation. They help stabilize babies born before 35 weeks of gestation or who are sick until they can be transferred to a health facility that can provide an acceptable level of neonatal care.
  • Level II NICU (Advanced Neonatal Care): Registered nurses working at this level care for newborns with less serious illnesses who may need breathing assistance and special feeding or medication. Level II NICU units are located in smaller health care facilities called special care nurseries.
  • Level III NICU (Subspecialty of Neonatal Nursing): Nurses working in these NICUs care for babies born before 32 weeks of gestation and newborns with serious medical conditions at any gestational age. Level III intensive care units generally provide patients with access to a full range of pediatric subspecialties, respiratory support systems, and advanced imaging technologies.
  • Level IV NICU (regional NICU; highest level of neonatal care): These facilities provide care for babies born between the 22nd and 24th weeks of gestation. Level IV NICUs provide mechanical ventilation, including high-frequency ventilation, and a wide range of advanced surgeries, including "open-heart" surgeries needed to correct congenital heart defects. Some Level IV NICU facilities offer ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

NICU nurse salary and work

AfterLohnskal, RNs working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) earn an average annual salary of $60,375, while neonatal nurses earn an average annual salary of $93,122. People should be aware that NICU nurse salaries can vary widely based on a number of factors.

RN demand is strong.The Bureau of Labor Statisticspoints out that RNs who have at least a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree are more likely to have better job prospects than those with an Associate of Nursing (ADN) degree. Between 2012 and 2022, overall job growth for registered nurses is expected to increase by 19%.

Useful organizations, societies and agencies

Other students asked these schools for information


How to become a NICU nurse - salary? ›

NICU nurses in Texas earn an average of $77,663 per year (or $37.34 per hour). Texas NICU nurses earn 3% lower than the national average salary for NICU nurses, at $80,731 (or $38.81 per hour).

How many years does it take to become a NICU nurse? ›

Share this Article. It takes 4-6 years to become a NICU nurse. Neonatal nurses need a college degree and a state-issued license. Certifications can help professionals qualify for more career opportunities.

Is it hard to become a NICU nurse? ›

You will need extensive training and education

NICU nurses need at minimum an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing and a passing score on the NCLEX-RN exam, just as most nursing jobs require.

Is it worth it to become a NICU nurse? ›

Working as a NICU nurse can be very rewarding career. It gives you the chance to improve and save the lives of infants and newborns and comfort their families. Being able to make a positive difference in the lives of others can be very rewarding and beneficial.

What is the lowest salary for a NICU nurse? ›

Given the most recent data, the median annual salary for a NICU Nurse in the US is $71,267.04. In high-earning states, NICU Nurses can make between $80,000 to over $100,000. In the lowest-earning states, NICU Nurses can earn between $55,000 to $69,000.

What is the hardest part of being a NICU nurse? ›

Emotionally Stressful

Working in a NICU is an extremely high-pressure job. The NICU nursing staff is responsible for the lives of tiny, unstable babies, and you may be required to leap into crisis mode at any moment.

How many hours does a NICU nurse work a week? ›

Typically, neonatal nurses work around 40 hours per week.

As NICUs and hospitals need nurse support every day, this can include weekends and holidays. For 12-hour shifts, they work 3 days a week, but those days may change weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Do NICU nurses get to hold babies? ›

You get to hold babies and feed babies and love babies and you only work 3 days a week!” “While I DO think I have the best job in the world, it's not for the above reasons. Very rarely do I actually get to hold a big juicy baby and if I do, it's a short-lived moment. In reality, the NICU is intense.

What are the negatives of being a NICU nurse? ›

  • NICUs are high-pressure environments: Critically ill babies can decompensate very quickly, so you can never safely take your eyes off your patients for more than a few minutes at a time. ...
  • NICU nursing can be emotionally taxing: ...
  • Requires highly specialized skills:

What is the difference between a neonatal nurse and a NICU nurse? ›

The roles of neonatal nurses and NICU nurses may seem interchangeable, but they are not always the same. The job title “neonatal nurse” describes nurses who work with critically ill infants. NICU nurses work specifically in the neonatal intensive care unit.

What you need to know before becoming a NICU nurse? ›

The first step towards becoming a NICU nurse is obtaining a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program. You can choose between a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. However, hospitals usually prefer BSN degree holders for NICU positions.

Do NICU nurses go to med school? ›

Neonatal nurses need an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and a registered nurse license. Often, NICU nurses also pursue neonatal care credentials.

Do neonatal nurses deliver babies? ›

Since NICU nurses care for newborns, they often attend deliveries for babies that doctors believe will require a NICU stay. Upon delivery, a NICU nurse can perform some vitals and can need to transport the child to the neonatal ICU after an initial assessment.

What RN makes the most money? ›

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs:
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
Dec 5, 2022

Who is lowest paid nurse? ›

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Salary

However, this type of work is the lowest paid in the nursing field, which is the main reason CNAs should consider continuing their studies to become registered nurses (RNs).

What state pays NICU nurses the most? ›

Since ZipRecruiter is a recruitment platform, all the data is in accordance with the market reality. According to them, the highest paying state for neonatal nurses is New York, with an annual salary of $108,499, and the lowest paying state is North Carolina, with a yearly wage of $78,345.

What is the easiest nursing specialty in the hospital? ›

One of the easiest nursing jobs to get into is in the field of occupational health. Occupational health nurses work in large industries, HMOs, and factories to treat work-related injuries and onsite illnesses.

Which nursing is the most stressful? ›

The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients. Other stressful nursing jobs include OR nursing, oncology nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

What is the hardest type of nurse to be? ›

Most Stressful Nursing Positions
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses. ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
  • Emergency Department nurses. ...
  • Neonatal ICU. ...
  • OR nursing. ...
  • Oncology Nursing. ...
  • Psychiatric Nursing.
Jan 27, 2021

Are NICU nurses in high demand? ›

NICU nurses are currently in demand! Analysts predict that the job market for NICU RNs will grow 12% from 2018 to 2028. In general, the employment for RNs is projected to increase 6% from 2021 to 2031. That breaks down to about 203,200 job openings for RNs every year, on average, over the decade.

How many vacation days do neonatal nurses get? ›

Most healthcare facilities have strong vacation and paid time off (PTO) policies, with nurses getting seventeen paid vacation days on average after their first year and up to twenty-six on average after twenty years.

How many patients does a NICU nurse have? ›

How Many Patients Does a Neonatal Nurse Work With? Depending on the status of the patients and how many babies are born in a given period of time, NICU nurses usually work with just a few infants at a time. Typically nurses can expect to care for one or two patients at a time.

What is a typical day for a NICU nurse? ›

I collect vitals, perform my nursing head-to-toe assessment, complete my ADLs (diaper change, oral hygiene, eye care, measure abdominal girth, etc.), & feed the infant. I administer morning meds & ensure all cares are complete before I exit the room & move on to my 2nd baby.

Can you sleep in NICU with baby? ›

You may not be able to spend as much time as you'd like with your baby. If you don't live close to the NICU, ask the staff about free or low-cost hotels in the area for NICU parents. And some NICUs have rooms for parents to sleep in.

Where do babies go after NICU? ›

When NICU babies get healthier and stronger, they go to the special care nursery. In the special care nursery, medical staff still closely monitor babies to make sure they're growing well.

How long is too long in NICU? ›

And there's no “normal” length of time for a little one's stay in the NICU. We have babies who stay in our NICU for two days, all the way up to six months. No matter your baby's age or length of stay, we know that having a baby in the NICU just isn't part of anyone's birth plan.

What is the common problem in NICU? ›

Breathing problems: Premature babies often have breathing problems because their lungs are not fully developed. Full-term babies also can develop breathing problems due to complications of labor and delivery, birth defects and infections.

What is the attitude of a NICU nurse? ›

The NICU nurse must fill in the gap of the motherly role, combining emergency-quality medical skills with genuine empathy and love for the child. Additionally, empathy allows nurses to provide comfort to patients' families.

What is the highest level of NICU nurse? ›

Level IV (Regional NICU)

The highest level of neonatal care provided occurs at regional NICUs, or Level IV neonatal intensive care units. These units are required to have pediatric surgical subspecialists on staff in addition to the care providers required for Level III units.

What type of patients do NICU nurses have? ›

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nursing is a field sub-specialty where nurses work with newborn infants who have a variety of medical ailments, such as premature congenital disabilities, cardiac malformations, dangerous infections, and other morphological or functional problems.

Can a RN be a neonatal nurse? ›

Aspiring neonatal nurses must first earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). They must hold a valid, unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license and fulfill specific licensing requirements in the state where they intend to practice.

Can you be a NICU nurse as a new grad? ›

So yes, you can definitely jump right into NICU! I am a new grad and my first job was in NICU! It mainly depends on the hospital system and their needs. Mine was in need of nurses and hired on lots of new grads and people with minimal baby experience.

What kind of nurse delivers babies? ›

Labor and delivery nurses, also known as “L&D nurses,” help deliver healthy babies and get mothers through the process of pregnancy safely.

How to make $100,000 as an RN? ›

  1. Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) ...
  2. Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) ...
  3. Become a Nurse Midwife. ...
  4. Advance in Nurse Leadership. ...
  5. Begin travel nursing assignment. ...
  6. Change Nursing specialties. ...
  7. Relocate to a higher paying state. ...
  8. Make sacrifices.

Which type of nursing is best? ›

The top 4 highest paying nursing jobs
  • Legal nurse consultant. ...
  • Forensic nurse consultant. ...
  • Public health nurse. ...
  • Occupational nurse. ...
  • Medical writer. ...
  • Physical therapist. ...
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner. ...
  • Medical or pharmaceutical sales.

Is it worth getting a BSN in nursing? ›

Nurses with bachelor's degrees are prepared to perform more multifaceted tasks and are given more autonomy on the job than nurses who hold associate degrees. In fact, research shows that BSN-educated nurses have a higher earning potential over time.

What state pays RNs the lowest? ›

The lowest-paying states are South Dakota ($60,540), Alabama ($61,920), Mississippi ($63,130), Iowa ($64,990), and Arkansas ($65,810).

Is the nursing shortage getting better? ›

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Projections 2021-2031, the Registered Nursing (RN) workforce is expected to grow by 6% over the next decade. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.3 million in 2031, an increase of 195,400 nurses.

What's the difference between a nurse and a registered nurse? ›

A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has completed all educational and examination requirements, and has been licensed to practice nursing in their state. You will also see 'registered nurse' as a job title or position.

What do neonatal nurses do? ›

preparing and checking medications. managing a baby's fluids. recording observations and documenting a baby's care. initiating appropriate basic resuscitation in an emergency situation.

What is the top salary for a NICU nurse? ›

Nicu Rn Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$190,000$15,833
75th Percentile$160,000$13,333
25th Percentile$112,500$9,375

Is NICU nursing stressful? ›

In addition to the often fast-paced environment of the NICU, those working with high-risk newborns are no strangers to facing complicated ethical dilemmas that can at times feed emotional stress.

What is the most a NICU nurse can make? ›

How Much Do Nicu Nurse Jobs Pay per Year? $90,000 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $145,500 is the 75th percentile.

What type of nurse takes care of newborn babies? ›

Neonatal nurses

Job description: Neonatal nurses are typically the next specialized group to enter the picture of infant care after labor and delivery nurses. This type of nurse specializes in the care of newborn infants.

What is the easiest nursing specialty? ›

Occupational Health

One of the easiest nursing jobs to get into is in the field of occupational health. Occupational health nurses work in large industries, HMOs, and factories to treat work-related injuries and onsite illnesses. This type of nurse is employed to keep the workers on the job.

How can I succeed as a NICU nurse? ›

What Skills Does a Neonatal Nurse Need?
  1. Focus and decision-making. ...
  2. Care and compassion. ...
  3. Good communication. ...
  4. Natural interest in caring for newborn babies. ...
  5. Kind heart to work with parents and families of sick babies. ...
  6. Ability to adapt quickly to new tasks and environments. ...
  7. Ability to work long shifts as required.

What is the most profitable nurse? ›

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $202,470 per year according to the BLS; this makes CRNAs the highest-paying type nursing job by a significant margin.

What is the most paying job? ›

So, given below is an updated list of the most paid jobs in the world.
  1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ...
  2. Medical Professionals. ...
  3. Corporate Lawyer. ...
  4. Investment Banker. ...
  5. Data Scientist. ...
  6. Project Manager. ...
  7. Senior Software Engineer. ...
  8. Web Developers.
May 9, 2023

Do L&D nurses deliver babies? ›

Labor and delivery nurses, also known as “L&D nurses,” help deliver healthy babies and get mothers through the process of pregnancy safely.


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