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School Nurse: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a school nurse. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information.

What Is A School Nurse?

School nurses work on site at schools. They may respond to accidents to evaluate a student's injuries and provide medical care. Students who state they feel ill may be sent to the school nurse for evaluation. School nurses are also responsible for securing student medications and administering those medications as prescribed. They may be involved in arranging for vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, being administered to students at school. School nurses also review student records to ensure that students have the required immunizations.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of StudyNursing
School Nursing
Key ResponsibilitiesProvide nursing care to students who are ill or injured
Counsel students on health maintenance and illness prevention
Assess student healthcare needs, develop and implement nursing care plans
Maintain records as required by laws and regulations
Licensure/CertificationLicensure is required; candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Certification as a school nurse is recommended and required in some states; teacher certification may be required for some jobs
Job Growth (2018-2028)12% for all registered nurses*
Mean Salary (2018)$75,510 for all registered nurses*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a School Nurse?

School nurses care for students who are ill or injured while at school. They act as a liaison between school personnel, families, the community and health care providers. Increasingly, school nurses are responsible for the care of students with chronic medical conditions, so you may need to administer and monitor the use of intravenous lines used for medication, feeding and respiration. They help students maintain their health by teaching effective health behaviors.

What Is My Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for registered nurses, which include school nurses, were expected to grow by 12% in the 2018 to 2028 decade (www.bls.gov), a growth rate that is much faster than average. The strong growth rate has been attributed to the high number of retiring professionals. In addition, students face an increasing number of health problems, including obesity and diabetes, which require increasing nursing care.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) actively promotes the need for every school to have a nurse. The AFT states that there were 195 nurses serving 200,000 students in Philadelphia public schools in 2013 (www.aft.org). It states that every child should have access to a school nurse, but this is not currently the case. Therefore, educators are recommending increasing the number of school nurses available.

School nurses' earnings varied by state and experience. However, 80% of school nurses earned average salaries between $40,103 and $63,360 according to Salary.com as of 2019.

What Education Is Required?

In order to become a school nurse, you must obtain the registered nurse (RN) credential, which requires completion of nursing school and the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. A review of individual state requirements in May 2011 showed that many states require school nurses to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Some states require school nursing certificates, a master's degree or dual certification as a registered nurse and teacher. Teaching certifications may require continuing classroom study or attendance at education seminars and lectures, depending on the state. The National Association of School Nurses and the National Board for Certification of School Nurses recommend you earn the voluntary title of National Certified School Nurse (NCSN), which is required by some states.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Nurses who work in a doctor's office or hospital may perform some tasks that are similar to school nurses. They may be involved in assessing an injury or illness and providing medical care. Dental hygienists focus on the care of a patient's teeth and may clean teeth, provide preventative care and look for signs of oral disease. EMTs and paramedics also respond to accidents and provide care to those who've been injured.