How Much Do NICU Nurses Make? | Salary Estimate

Neonatal (NICU) nurses earn relatively competitive pay within the nursing profession.

Notably, they earn one of the highest incomes among the entire spectrum of registered nurses.

A neonatal nurse’s salary varies significantly depending on the websites/data sources you read.

I’ll include several income expectations to understand how much NICU nurses make yearly thoroughly.

A neonatal nurse’s average salary in the United States is $92,713.

Estimates vary depending on reporting methods, with salary expectations ranging from $76,365 (Florida) to $105,493 (Massachusetts).

Those working as neonatal nurse practitioners earn even more due to their advanced training and education.

For instance, in the United States, neonatal nurse practitioners earn approximately $129,645 on average.

However, incomes vary wildly on the high and low ends of the salary range.

The lower 10% of neonatal nurse practitioners make around $109,634 yearly.

Comparatively, the top 10% earn $149,757 on average per year.

With that said, determining how much neonatal nurses make with absolute certainty is difficult.

Numerous websites offer income values based on data collection, education, state of employment, NICU level, and other factors.

You can learn about neonatal care by visiting the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Neonatal Nurse Overview

NICU nurses provide medical care to babies/newborns to ensure they’re healthy, stable, and developing correctly.

These healthcare professionals play a significant role in a baby’s life by assisting them throughout the birth and post-birth.

Neonatal nurses have varying levels of training ranging from monitoring healthy babies to providing intensive care.

Infants with low birth weight, respiratory problems, heart defects, medical abnormalities, or critical illnesses receive care in the NICU.

NICU nurses require a higher degree of training to monitor the well-being of infants in intensive care.

Ultimately, a neonatal nurse’s responsibilities vary depending on the nurse’s training level.

Level 1

Level 1 neonatal nurses provide primary care, including monitoring infants during and after birth.

These nurses understand basic skills like resuscitation, infant care, and stabilization.

These healthcare professionals will contact a nurse practitioner or physician in situations requiring advanced care.

Level 2

Level 2 neonatal nurses have more advanced training and work in special care nurseries.

Nevertheless, they can perform the same duties as level 1 neonatal nurses.

These healthcare professionals assist infants who no longer require intensive care but need care beyond the training of level 1 neonatal nurses.

Notably, they can administer intravenous fluids, feed babies, and provide medication, oxygen, and therapy.

Level 3

Level 3 neonatal nurses work in NICU (neonatal intensive care units).

These healthcare professionals aid in critical situations where infants with medical difficulties require life-saving care.

NICU nurses utilize ventilators, incubators, and other critical care medical equipment to ensure infants remain stable.

They also support infants undergoing surgery and invasive procedures.

That said, neonatal nurses do not perform surgery.

Instead, they play a supporting role through the surgical/invasive procedure process by assisting qualified professionals.

Neonatal Nurse Education

Neonatal nurses possess an ADN or BSN degree.

Earning an ADN or BSN degree requires 2 – 4 years of education.

Students must also take prerequisite courses before attending nursing school.

Once registered nurses complete their college education, they spend at least one year working in a hospital setting.

During this time, they obtain clinical experience and learn the ends and outs of nursing.

Some facilities will directly hire aspiring nurses into a neonatal care unit.

Others require nurses to have some training working in an infant care setting.

Those unable to obtain a job in neonatal directly out of college can pursue a supporting role like being a staff nurse.

It allows you to gain experience that may translate into a future position in a neonatal care department.

That said, it’s best to consult the hiring department to determine their requirements for becoming a neonatal care nurse.

Neonatal nurses work under the supervision of a nurse practitioner, surgeon, or physician.

These medical professionals monitor vitals, perform first aid, operate medical equipment, and manage various birth to critical care duties.

A neonatal nurse will consult/call a nurse practitioner or doctor if the infant requires more substantial medical care.

Ultimately, they ensure the infant’s well-being, health, and safety.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP’s) generally hold a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree.

However, some universities may offer a doctorate program for neonatal nurses who want to earn their DNP.

Registered nurses looking to further their careers in the neonatal care field should pursue post-graduate education.

It allows them to earn an advanced practice registered nurse degree, which provides more career opportunities, and pay.

It takes approximately 2 – 4 years to earn an MSN as a neonatal nurse practitioner for existing RNs.

However, those pursuing education as neonatal nurse practitioners without primary education require 6 – 8 years.

Neonatal nurse practitioners assess and monitor an infant’s conditions, provide medical support, diagnose patients, and act as primary care providers.

They educate families and assist the infant in recovery and rehabilitation to ensure the child is healthy and stable.

Job Opportunities

Those becoming neonatal nurses will be glad to know that career opportunities are continually rising.

By 2030, the global economy will require up to 13 million nurses to meet worldwide demand.

It isn’t the best situation for patients requiring medical care.

However, expanding job opportunities means excellent chances for nurses in the healthcare industry.

Moreover, neonatal nurses are one of the highest-paid professions in nursing.

These medical professionals make $129,645 yearly and have excellent job stability, pay, and benefits.

Therefore, nursing students and RNs interested in caring for newborns should consider becoming neonatal nurses.