How to Become an ER Nurse: Salary, Job Description, Education Requirements

Patient hooked up to breathing tubeAn ER (Emergency Room) nurse typically works in a hospital emergency room, sometimes called the ED or emergency department. ER nurses provide emergency care to patients in acute conditions such as a serious illness or injury. These nurses work in an exciting field where they can directly help others in need.

Table of Contents
How to Become an ER Nurse
ER Nursing on YouTube
ER Nurse Job Requirements
ER Nurse Job Description
Career Options
More ER Nursing on YouTube
ER Nurse Certification
Cost of Certification
Even More ER Nursing on YouTube
ER Nurse Salary
Professional Organizations
Relevant Publications
Apps for ER Nurses
ER Nurse vs Trauma Nurse

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information specific to the field of emergency room nurses, but the website does offer an overview of registered nurses. Salary information courtesy of Salary.com.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.

Minimum Education Required Associate degree
Board Examinations needed NCLEX-RN, RN-BC
Average Annual Salary $66,220
# of Jobs (2012) 2,712,000
Job Outlook (2012 to 2022) 19% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov and Salary.com

How to Become an ER Nurse

To become an ER nurse, someone:

  • Must have an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • May pursue additional education in emergency care

ER Nursing on YouTube

Here’s a look at the roles and responsibilities of ER Nurses as told by Emergency Room Nurse, Will Cristobal.

ER Nurse Job Requirements

Candidates for emergency room nurse will already have graduated nursing school, passed board examinations and be a registered nurse. RNs interested in working in the ER may take advanced courses in emergency medicine.

ER Nurse Job Description

Emergency room nurses work as part of a team of healthcare professionals to provide emergency care, monitor patient health conditions, help plan long-term healthcare needs, administer medication, use medical equipment and even perform minor operations. ER nurses assess patient needs, evaluate patient conditions, prioritize care based on medical need and work to stabilize patients. Once the crisis has passed, emergency room nurses then admit the patient to an inpatient facility or discharge the patient.

All ER nurses must have certain personality traits to flourish in this role, including:

  • An ability to shift gears and speed up the pace as necessary
  • Good observation, assessment and prioritization skills
  • Multitasking ability
  • Good interpersonal and customer service skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Strong personal coping skills
  • Ability to stay calm amidst chaos
  • Sense of humor
  • Quick thinking

Emergency room nurses report to the Emergency Department Manager, sometimes referred to as the Head Nurse.

Career Options

Typical workplaces for an emergency room nurse include:

  • Hospital emergency rooms
  • Administration
  • Universities and colleges, especially nursing schools
  • Urgent care centers
  • Flight nursing in helicopters/airplanes
  • Poison control centers
  • Telephone triage
  • Military
  • Corporations and businesses
  • Crisis intervention centers
  • Prisons and correctional facilities
  • Federal and state governmental agencies

More ER Nursing on YouTube

This Emergency Room Nurse discusses a typical day in the ER and the qualities necessary to become the best Emergency Room Nurse possible.

ER Nurse Certification

For those interested in pursuing a certification in Emergency Nursing, there are some requirements for earning the certification:

  • Pass the initial exam
  • Must hold a current, unrestricted Registered Nurse license in the US or its territories

Cost of ER Nurse Certification

Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses

Fees for Non-Members

  • Credential: CEN
  • Initial Exam: $370
  • Recertification (CE or Exam): $350
  • Recertification (IBT): $370

Fees for Members

  • Credential: CEN
  • Initial Exam: $230
  • Recertification (CE or Exam): $210
  • Recertification (IBT): $250

Recertification every 4 years by:

Even More ER Nursing on YouTube

Here’s a video of the exciting Emergency Room chaos from the Level 1 Trauma Center at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

ER Nurse Salary

The average emergency nurse salary is $67,909, according to Salary.com. Head nurses make an average of $92,842 annually. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not produce employment growth statistics for emergency nurses, the BLS does expect jobs for RNs to increase 19 percent through 2022.

Professional Organizations

Relevant Publications

Apps for ER Nurses

critical care nursing app iconCritical Care ACLS Guide: $5.99 (iOS)
This app gives users immediate access to any sort of critical information they would be interested in knowing. This app makes it easy for nurses and other physicians to check ACLS drug doses, correctly interpret EKG results, and look up patient information and medications.
certified emergency nurse app iconCertified Emergency Nurse: $1.79 (Android)
This app is perfect for nurses working in the Emergency Room who would like to brush up on their knowledge of common terms and learning modules on various topics nurses experience every day. With more than 1,400 multiple choice questions and flashcards, emergency room nurses can stay up-to-date on procedures and terms commonly used in the nursing field.
journal of emergency nursing app iconJournal of Emergency Nursing: Free (Android + iOS)
This app displays issues and the latest research from the peer-reviewed Journal of Emergency Nursing. This is a great way to stay current on trending topics of discussing in the nursing field.

ER Nurse vs Trauma Nurse

ER Nurse:

  • Patient Condition: Patients able to talk and in stable condition
  • Treatment: Work closely with patients who are ill or sick
  • Specialized for Emergency Room

Trauma Nurse:

  • Patient Condition: Patients rushed to the ER. Example: Car accident, stab wound, or gun shot.
  • Specialist who only rotates through trauma rooms and assists the trauma team of doctors
  • Work closely with patients brought in by ambulance with serious wounds/injuries