Children are the future, and if you opt to work in the healthcare field and want to help them during their early years, then becoming a neonatal nurse is the ideal career for you. A neonatal nurse salary may pleasantly surprise you, especially if you’re in an area where the average salary for this position is higher than other areas in the country.
Neonatal Nurse Salary: What a Neonatal Nurse Does
A neonatal nurse is an individual who works with newborns who suffer from issues like prematurity, birth defects, malformations, illnesses, or infections. Typically, this type of nurse works with infants during the first month of life, which is the neonatal period. However, it’s possible for a neonatal nurse to work with older infants since babies in this unit often have problems that cause issues that last longer than a month.
A neonatal nurse usually works in the neonatal ward or the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As a neonatal nurse, you’re responsible for caring for infants. You may need to feed them using a feeding tube and will need to learn how to connect a baby to a ventilator.
Neonatal nurses must administer medications to infants.
Part of your job may require you to assist before, during, or after surgery as well.
You do have clerical responsibilities too, such as filling out the necessary paperwork regarding the treatments you provided and the progress of the infant.
Although you primarily work with infants, you also have to provide support and education to their parents. You educate them every step of the way and help them make the best decisions in regards to the health and wellness of their children.
As a neonatal nurse, you’re also the one to help parents take care of their children, especially since infants born with problems often require special care once they leave the hospital.
You must keep in mind that families are very emotional at times, so if you choose to work in this area of interest, you must have compassion.
Departments Where Neonatal Nurses Work
A neonatal nurse works in one of the following departments:
Neonatal Nurse Salary: Educational Requirements of a Neonatal Nurse
To practice as a neonatal nurse, you must first obtain your registered nursing license. You can continue your education at this point to enhance your neonatal nurse salary and grow your skill set so you can provide a higher level of care.
In order to become a registered nurse (RN), you must earn either an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). It’s also possible to earn a diploma from an approved nursing program.
If you opt to earn your ADN, you can expect it to take between two to three years to complete. Choosing to complete your bachelor’s degree takes between three to four years. A bachelor’s degree gives you access to more opportunities since some hospitals will only hire you if you have a bachelor’s degree.
You must complete courses in physiology, anatomy, nutrition, psychology, and chemistry. Additionally, you have a clinical portion of your education for either program. This gives you hands-on experience with patients under the direct supervision of other nurses.
Once you complete your degree or diploma, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination NCLEX - RN.
You must work in a neonatal unit for at least two years before you can take an examination to become certified as a neonatal nurse. You’ll also need to complete resuscitation training.
Nurse Practitioner or Midwife
A nurse practitioner (NP) or midwife must first earn their registered nursing license first. Then, they continue on to earn their master’s degree in nursing, which consists of an additional two years of schooling. At this point, it’s possible to specialize in neonatal care.
Once you complete your graduate degree program, you’ll need to pass a national examination to become a nurse practitioner.
Traits a Neonatal Nurse Should Possess
First and foremost, you must have compassion for infants and their families. You must have a desire to help children and support their families when they need it the most.
You must have critical thinking skills. Often, you must determine the best course of action for a patient quickly.
Communication skills are another vital skill you must possess. You have to communicate effectively with patients’ families. You have to educate them on the medications and procedures their infant needs, and you also have to discuss matters with other medical professionals.
You have to pay attention to detail, so you can give the appropriate medication at the right time and dosage. Organizational skills help you achieve this while they also help you multitask and take care of multiple patients at one time.
Although you’re taking on a position as a neonatal nurse to help infants, you do experience heartbreak and witness emotional people and nerve-wracking situations. You need to have emotional stability, so you can separate yourself from the situation and focus on caring for the patient.
To complete all of your educational requirements, you should excel in science because much of your coursework is in subjects like biology, physics, and chemistry.
Average Neonatal Nurse Salary for RNs and NPs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided data that indicate the average registered nurse earned a mean hourly wage of $35.36 per hour, which is equivalent to $73,550 per year.
The lowest earners made around $48,690 yearly while the highest-paid made around $104,100.
As of May 2017, California ranked as the state with the highest average nurse salary. The average wage in the state was $102,700. Hawaii also ranked high, with the average nurse making $96,990 annually.
A neonatal nurse salary is slightly higher than the average nurse’s salary since it’s a subspecialty. If you work in a neonatal department that offers a higher level of care, such as level II or higher, you make even more.
You may have a difficult time finding a job in a level I neonatal department since mothers usually have their babies in their rooms with them, so there’s less of a need for nurses when infants are relatively healthy.
A nurse practitioner earned a mean hourly wage of $51.68 per hour as of May 2017. This wage is the same as $107,480 per year. The lowest average nurse practitioner salary is around $74,840 per year while the highest is $145,630. The highest salary average salary for a nurse practitioner was $145,640.
California ranks as the state with the highest pay for nurse practitioners. The average mean wage in this state was $126,770 as of May 2017. Nurse practitioners made an average of $125,140.
You make a higher wage if you specialize in neonatal care, especially in the departments that require a higher level of care.
Job Outlook for Neonatal Nurses
The BLS projects the number of jobs for registered nurses and nurse practitioners will grow from 2016 to 2026. As long as people continue to have babies, you have job stability going into the specialty of neonatal nursing.
If you decide to become a registered nurse, not only do you receive a neonatal nurse salary, but you become part of a career that the BLS projects will grow by 15 percent from 2016 until 2026. This is much faster than many other jobs.
The BLS forecasts the need for nurse practitioners and midwives will grow by 31 percent from 2016 until 2026, which is much faster than the average occupations. Not only do you receive a high neonatal nurse salary when you become a nurse practitioner or midwife, you also know you have job stability.
In conclusion, a neonatal nurse salary is more than adequate. The career is rewarding if you enjoy helping infants grow and develop during the first few months of life. Not to mention, based on statistics from the BLS, you have plenty of opportunities that’ll just keep increasing.