Neonatal Nursing Salaries, Educational Requirements and More

Neonatal Nursing Salaries

Neonatal nurses care for infants born with mild and severe health conditions including premature birth, birth defects, and infection. They commonly work in maternity wards and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), which are medical facilities that support infants with health conditions. 

They may also work in women’s clinics, private clinics, or as home healthcare nurses. Although the term neonatal refers to the first month after birth, these nurses care for children who have long-term medical issues ranging from newborns to two-years-old. Neonatal nurses work shifts ranging from 8-16 hours a day. They care for one to four patients per shift, often in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment.

Daily Tasks

Neonatal nurses provide vital care and support for infants and concerned families. However, the daily duties of neonatal nursing are consistent since patients have similar needs. Other types of nursing serve a wider range of patients who have drastically different issues and medical needs.

The main tasks of neonatal nurses, include: 

  • Monitoring the vital signs of patients
  • Giving infants hands-on care including feeding, changing, and holding
  • Working under the supervision of a neonatologist
  • Administering medicine and other treatments to infants 
  • Ensuring all equipment is working properly
  • Providing comfort and education to parents on their baby’s conditions and treatments

Neonatal Nursing Salaries

According to Pay Scale, the median neonatal nurse salary is $30.63 an hour. The top 90% of neonatal nurses make $45 an hour. Salaries can fluctuate based on the length of shifts and overtime. Check out the average salary of neonatal nurses in your state.

Interested in related jobs? Check out pediatrics nurse practitioner salaries and ICU nurse salaries.

Educational Requirements 

  1. Earn a nursing degree. You have two options for nursing degrees. You can earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a program that is approved by your State Nursing Board.
  2. Pass the National Council License Examination (NCLEX-RN). This test is administered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and is necessary to become a registered nurse. This exam is accepted in all 50 states, but additional licensing is required in some states. 
  3. Gain two years of clinical experience. Most NICUs require nurses to have prior clinical experience in pediatrics or neonatal care. You can gain this experience in Labor and Delivery Nursing, Maternal-Child Nursing, and Pediatric Nursing units.

Optional Steps:

  1. Become certified. Technically, you only need to be a registered nurse with clinical experience to become a neonatal nurse. But taking the National Certification Corporation (RNC) Certification for Neonatal Intensive Care (RNC-NIC) hones skills, adding to your appeal as a candidate.
  2. Complete a master’s degree. Completing a master’s degree in nursing or a related field opens possibilities for career advancement. With a master’s degree, NICU nurses can become nursing supervisors, charge nurses, discharge planners, or work in advanced nursing practice roles.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nursing jobs are projected to grow 15% by 2026. Like other nursing careers, the demand for neonatal nurses is expected to increase significantly. NICUs are expected to expand with improving technology, making it possible to save the lives of more infants.


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