Pediatric Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider

For those seeking careers in pediatric nursing, subspecialization can be rewarding. Check out these five pediatric nurse jobs to consider.

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by Blake Weil

Published August 12, 2022

Reviewed by Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

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Pediatric Nurse Jobs: 5 Specialties to Consider
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For caring, compassionate people, a career in pediatric nursing can be highly rewarding. Pediatric nurse jobs require patience, empathy, and strong attention to detail.

Pediatric nurses assist doctors and other healthcare professionals in caring for babies, children, and adolescents. This includes performing exams, monitoring patients, and assisting with treatments.

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Ready to start your journey?

With additional education, nurses can pursue advancement as nurse managers or nurse practitioners. Advanced roles often require a master's degree.

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nursing requires an associate degree at a minimum, but most nurses pursue a bachelor's degree. Nurses must specifically study nursing, as licensing requirements include a nursing degree. During their education, nursing students often work as hospital interns, gaining real-world experience.

A master's degree is not required, but many nurses obtain one to help advance their careers. These programs are typically not difficult to get into. A master's in nursing usually takes two years to complete, but some online programs can be completed in one year.

After graduating, nurses must pass the NCLEX exam and obtain their nursing license. Licensing requirements vary by state, although some states in the nursing compact recognize each other's licenses. Once licensed, they can begin working. After some work, pediatric nurses can obtain career certification.

5 Types of Pediatric Nurse Specialities

Neonatal Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022): $70,690
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses: State Nursing License (RN)

Neonatal nurses work to help treat newborn babies. This means monitoring healthy babies and treating babies born with health conditions. These can include babies who are premature or have infections.

Neonatal nurses typically work in hospitals' neonatal units. They have strong attention to detail to make sure they catch any problems and a good understanding of the science of a newborn's health.

Developmental Disability Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022): $79,000
  • Job Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: State Nursing License (RN)

A developmental disability nurse works with children who have learning or other developmental disabilities. These include autism and Down syndrome. They support the children's health and well-being. They also help educate family and community members on how best to support the children.

While all nurses need patience and compassion, these skills are particularly important for developmental disability nurses. Disabled children face unique challenges, and as such need particularly close attention.

While some developmental disability nurses work in hospitals, others work in schools and long-term residential care facilities.

Palliative Pediatric Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022): $77,000
  • Job Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: State Nursing License (RN)

Sometimes the worst happens, and a child reaches the end of their life too soon. A palliative pediatric nurse works to help make a dying child as comfortable as possible during this difficult period, managing pain and other symptoms. Palliative pediatric nurses typically work in hospice settings.

A palliative pediatric nurse needs to have strong emotional stability to deal with the turmoil patients and families go through as a child nears the end of life. They also need strong listening and communication skills to help manage a wide range of emotional challenges.

Direct Care Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022):$30,780
  • Job Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: State Nursing License (RN)

A direct care nurse provides long-term care to patients who are unable to care for themselves. This can include medical tasks, such as collecting samples and changing IVs and assisting with standard maintenance tasks, such as washing and feeding patients.

Direct care nurses either work in patients' homes, supporting them in their day-to-day lives or work in a long-term care facility, helping to support many patients.

Direct care nurses need to be dedicated and flexible. They need to support individuals and grow to know their needs over a long time, as well as handle any new situations that may arise.

Labor and Delivery Nurse

  • Average Annual Salary (July 2022):$68,620
  • Job Outlook (2020-2030): 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: State Nursing License (RN)

Labor and delivery nurses work with pregnant patients, helping them give birth and deliver a baby. They closely monitor the status of the fetus before birth by frequently evaluating heart tones and movement. In addition to standard deliveries, they also help doctors perform surgical deliveries. As this is a fast-moving process, they need good communication skills and a sense of urgency to handle sudden changes in the delivery process.

Labor and delivery nurses work in hospital maternity wards. They occasionally may go to patients' homes to assist with home deliveries.

Pediatric Nurse Salary

Entry-level pediatric nurse salaries are in the mid-five-figures. Salaries can near six figures with additional experience and education. Those who pursue a master's degree to become nurse practitioners can earn even higher salaries. An advanced degree is often worth it.

How to Find a Pediatric Nurse Job

Generally, pediatric nursing jobs are in high demand. In addition to standard job search sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, specific nursing job listings exist on specialized sites for nurses. Applicants typically need to provide educational records and proof of their nursing license.

Candidates should look for a job with good salaries and benefits, job protections, and a work-life balance. Burnout is a significant problem among nurses and candidates should be proactive about preventing it, looking for jobs that care for nurses' mental health.

Nurses can network through their school's career services office, and also through nursing professional organizations. An internship during college can help you make connections in the healthcare industry.

Pediatric Nurse Professional Organizations

ANA provides certification and career help for nurses across specialties. They also advocate for nurses and provide continuing education and networking opportunities. The Society of Pediatric Nurses provides pediatric nursing-specific certifications and publishes a scholarly journal, the Journal of Pediatric Nursing. AWHONN advocates for nurses in obstetrics and neonatal care, publishes scholarly journals, and provides a wide variety of networking and leadership opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Nurse Jobs

What is the highest-paid pediatric nurse specialty?

The highest-paid pediatric nurse specialty varies depending on a professional's level of experience and education, as well as their location. Typically developmental disability nurses and ICU nurses earn the most money. These can be demanding nursing subspecialties, although also important and rewarding.

Developmental disability nurses work with children with learning and other disabilities to care for their health and help them function in their day-to-day lives. Intensive care nurses work in ICUs to provide life-saving care to patients with critical conditions.

What pediatric nursing specialty is the most popular?

Of the pediatric nursing specialties, neonatal intensive care is one of the most sought-after and in-demand specialties.

Neonatal nursing is challenging but highly rewarding. Neonatal nurses work with newborns to address problems in the first month of life, such as birth defects and premature births.

Of the pediatric nursing specialties, neonatal nursing has one of the highest salaries.

Can I become a pediatric nurse with an online degree?

You can become a pediatric nurse with an online degree. However, nursing licensure also requires an in-person clinical experience. While some online degree programs offer a hybrid degree, with online courses and supplemental in-person clinical hours, many do not. In programs not offering an in-person clinical component, they may offer a career center to aid students in acquiring clinical internships to complete their licensing requirements.

How much money can I make as a pediatric nurse?

Generally, a pediatric nurse makes somewhere in the mid-five-figure range. Certain subspecialties make more money, such as developmental disability nurses and pediatric palliative care nurses.

Salaries tend to vary with education. Graduates with a BSN tend to make higher salaries than those with an ADN.

With experience and additional education, salaries can reach six figures. With a master's degree, many nurses pursue careers as nurse practitioners and make significantly more.

What is the fastest way to become a pediatric nurse?

The fastest way to become a pediatric nurse is to complete an associate degree in nursing. With an associate degree, you can take the NCLEX exam to become a licensed and registered nurse.After obtaining your license, you then need to land a job in a pediatric practice setting. Many colleges have career centers to help place students in jobs upon graduation.

While this is the fastest way, many nurses pursue additional education, especially a bachelor's degree, to earn higher salaries.

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