How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

A pediatric nurse works with patients from infancy until the beginning of adulthood and to become a pediatric nurse, you must complete a four-year undergraduate degree as well as a certification examination.

Education, Certification and Licensing

A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who has completed a four-year undergraduate degree in nursing. Once completed, you will need to pass the NCLEX RN.

To be eligible to take the certification examination as a pediatric nurse, you will need, according to the American Nurses Association Credentialing Center:

  • A current nursing license, from a state in the United States or one of its territories. You may also apply if you have a recognized license from another country, and there are additional procedures as a foreign-trained professional nurse.

  • At least two years experience as a full-time nurse.

  • A minimum of 2,000 hours, approximately fifty full time weeks of work in pediatric care, and this must be completed within the previous three years.

  • Finally, you need thirty hours of professional development in pediatric nursing, also within the last three years.

If you are a Licensed Practical Nurse, also known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, currently there is no specialty certification in this area for pediatrics. It is possible that you could find employment in this field in a facility that generally serves children and teenagers, but the credentials for pediatric nurses are currently only available to registered nurses.

Tips and Advice

If you are currently in high school, you need to complete your high school diploma, and take courses in biology, chemistry and mathematics. If you do not have a high school diploma, you will need to complete your GED so you can apply to a four year undergraduate program in nursing.

While in high school or college, it is a good idea to get some experience working with children and teenagers. For example, volunteering to work as a tutor or mentor or working for the summer as a camp counselor at a camp for children with chronic medical conditions, are good experiences to add to your resume. You may also want to look for internships or practicums in pediatric nursing. Having little or no experience with children and teenagers may make it difficult for you to secure your first position as a registered nurse in a pediatric ward, and you do need 2,000 hours of experience in pediatrics before applying to take the Pediatric Nursing Certificate examination.

Since you need to complete 2,000 hours, roughly a full time year of nursing, you should try to find a position in pediatrics. Your college's career center, as well as local health care career fairs will be of assistance, since you can ask human resource representatives about openings in pediatric care. You can also research job openings in this field on jobs found in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, currently hosted on Elsevier HealthCareers.com

Different Types

Pediatric nurses work with infants, children and teenagers and you can also have a sub specialty as a pediatric nurse, such as orthopedics, oncology or school nursing. If you decide to complete a graduate degree in nursing and become a nurse practitioner, you may also specialize in pediatric nursing, but have more responsibilities and take a greater initiative in patient care and promoting preventative medicine.