How to Become a Neonatal Nurse or Nursery Nurse: Salary, Job Description

Nurse checking infant vitalsA neonatal nurse takes care of newborn babies up to one month after birth. A neonatal nurse takes care of healthy newborns and infants with medical problems, such as premature birth, birth defects, infections, heart problems and surgical complications.

Neonatal nurses are an essential part of the neonatal care team. Most neonatal nurses take care of babies until the hospital discharges the infant but some nurses continue to provide care in patient homes or healthcare institutions.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
Neonatal Nursing on YouTube
Education Requirements
Neonatal Nurse Job Description
Personality Traits
Career Options
Neonatal Nurse Certification
Cost of Certification
Professional Organizations
Relevant Publications
Apps for ER Nurses

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not produce current information regarding the wages and employment outlook for neonatal nurses but the bureau does offer an overview of registered nurses who may work in this capacity.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse

To work as a neonatal nurse, a candidate:

  • 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 neonatal care
  • May pursue voluntary certification through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses

Neonatal Nursing on YouTube

Here’s a video that explains what exactly a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner does and what one can expect working in the field.

Education Requirements

To work as a neonatal nurse, the individual will already have graduated nursing school and passed board examinations, and already be a registered nurse. RNs interested in working as neonatal nurses may take advanced courses in obstetrics, labor and delivery, neonatal care and pediatrics.

Job Description

A neonatal nurse works with physicians to provide care to newborn infants. The neonatal nurse monitors babies’ vital signs, orders diagnostic tests and interprets results. A neonatal nurse helps new mothers care for their newborns and sometimes provides additional care to mothers and babies after cesarean sections. Neonatal nurses may work with babies aged preterm to the age of two, but most work with infants under the age of one month.

Personality Traits of a Neonatal Nurse:

Personality traits:

  • Excellent critical thinking skills
  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Attention to detail
  • Emotional objectivity

A neonatal nurse reports to the nurse supervising a hospital nursery.

Career Options

Neonatal nurses typically work in:

  • Hospital nurseries
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

The job outlook is good for neonatal nurses as birth rates slowly rise in the United States. Advancing technology will also increase the need for highly trained neonatal nurses, as medical science finds new ways to save the lives of premature or very ill newborns.

Certification Information

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers ACCNS-N certification. Obtaining this certification shows the bearer is a neonatal clinical nurse specialist who has advanced knowledge in providing care for newborns. Candidates earn certification by passing a 3.5-hour test consisting of 175 multiple-choice items. The exam questions focus on the spectrum of wellness, from caring for a healthy newborn through providing acute care.

Cost of Certification for Neonatal Nurses

Certification for Neonatal Nurses is available from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Specialty Certifications

  • CCRN: Acute/Critical Care Nursing (Adult, Pediatric, & Neonatal)
  • CCRN-K: Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional (Adult, Pediatric, & Neonatal)
AACN Members: $225$225
Nonmembers: $330$330
CCRN Exam Retest or Renewal by ExamCCRN-K Exam Retest or Renewal by Exam
AACN Members: $170$170
Nonmembers: $275$275
CCRN Renewal by Synergy CERPsCCRN-K Renewal by Synergy CERPs
AACN Members: $120$120
Nonmembers: $200$220


Every 3 years. Must have a current, active, unencumbered RN license. Renewal available through:

  • Renewal by Synergy CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Point – Fees in table above)
  • Renewal by Exam (Fees in table above)

Advanced Practice Consensus Model Based Certifications

ACCNS-N: Certification for Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialists



  • AACN Members: $245
  • Nonmembers: $350

AACN-N Renewal by CE Points/by Exam

  • AACN Members: $180 (CE Points)/$200 (Exam)
  • Nonmembers: $260 (CE Points)/$305 (Exam)

Recertification: Every 5 years. Must have a current, active, unencumbered RN license. Renewal available through one of the following:

  • 1,000 Practice Hours and 150 CE Points (Fees in table above)
  • 1,000 Practice Hours and Exam (Fees in table above)
  • 150 CE Points and Exam (Fees in table above)

Professional Neonatal Nursing Organizations

Relevant Publications for Neonatal Nurses

Apps for Neonatal Nurses

perinatal and neonatal nursing appJournal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing: Free (iOS)
This app displays articles from the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing on topics ranging from labor and delivery to respiratory care or complications and allows for students and nurses alike to keep up-to-date on the topics in the Neonatal field.
neonatal nurse appNeonatal Nurse: Free (iOS)
With this app, Neonatal Nurses can answer questions that will prepare them for the certification exam and get answers and rationale to those questions answered incorrectly.
neonatal drug withdrawal tool appNeonatal Drug Withdrawal Tools: Free (Android)
This app is intended for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, Pediatricians, and Neonatologists to portray an evidence based method for treating Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and drug withdrawal in infants.


  1. http://DEZARAY%20wILLIAMS says

    Hey, I was wondering if you could tell me more about how to become a nursery nurse. My aunt was once an RN but shes a office manager now, she didn’t have a lot to do with the babies. I’ve always wanted to own my own daycare ever since I was a little girl. So I’m use to being around babies and little kids.
    Thank you.

    • http://Zman says

      I wish I could tell you more, maybe I can help you find the answers! What would you like to know about a nursery nurse?