How Much Does a Neonatal Nurse Make?

If you enjoy helping people, working in a team environment, and working with newborn infants, you might consider a career as a neonatal registered nurse or nurse practitioner. These professionals specialize in working with newborn infants needing extra care. Read on to learn more about your potential salary and the skills you need to become a neonatal nurse. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Outlook and Salary Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that career opportunities for registered nurses in general is expected to rise by 19% in the decade 2012-2022, a growth the BLS highlights as faster than the average for all careers. The increased demand will be a result of retiring nurses and a population with greater access to healthcare (

Registered nurses (RNs) working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) earned a median annual salary of $58,870, according to in December 2015. Advanced practice nurses, including neonatal nurse practitioners, generally make a higher salary than registered nurses. reported the median expected salary for a neonatal nurse practitioner was $92,582.

Important Facts About Neonatal Nurses

On-the-Job Training None
Key Skills Calm demeanor, reading comprehension, clear communication, problem solving, critical thinking, social awareness, attention to detail
Work Environment Hospitals, physicians offices, home healthcare services
Similar Occupations Nurse midwives, physicians assistants, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses

Salary by Employer

While the BLS doesn't provide salary information for the neonatal specialty, it does report salary data for RNs and nurse practitioners (NPs) in general. In May 2014, general medical and surgical hospitals employed the most RNs and paid them an average wage of $71,640. On the other hand, physicians' offices employed the most NPs and paid them an average wage of $96,570.

Salary by Location

Your place of employment and city of residence may contribute to your potential. In general, larger cities and metropolitan hospitals offer higher wages than rural hospitals and smaller clinics.

The BLS reported that California employed the highest number of RNs, offering them average wages of $98,400 in May 2014. New York employed the highest number of NPs, and the average salary for professionals in that state was $104,510.

The lowest-paid RNs averaged $33,740-$57,830 and worked in states that included Tennessee, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. In contrast, the lowest-paid NPs averaged $22,880-$90,490 annually and worked in states that included Kansas, Wyoming, and Georgia.

Education Requirements

The first steps to a career in neonatal nursing are to complete a bachelor's degree program and obtain licensing as an RN. As an RN, you might work in hospitals with advanced-care facilities for newborns. If possible, you may want to spend time working in a NICU.

In order to practice as a neonatal nurse practitioner, you will need to complete a master's degree for nurse practitioners. Some schools include the option to concentrate in a subspecialty of advanced nursing, such as neonatal nursing. While enrolled, you may take advanced classes in nursing and care of high-risk infants, often including the following subjects:

  • Neonatal pharmacotherapeutics
  • Developmental biology
  • Neonatal assessment
  • High-risk family care

Certification and Continuing Education

Though optional, with several years of on-the-job experience you might choose to earn certification from a professional organization. The National Certification Corporation offers an exam for you to earn a credential as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner ( In order to qualify, you must be a licensed RN and have completed a graduate program in neonatal nursing. Many states also require RNs to complete a certain number of continuing education hours every year to keep current with advances in technology and maintain licensing.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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