Advanced Medical Certification

Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

View All Courses

Nursing Careers and Nursing Certification 101: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses caring for the tiniest hearts

Nursing Careers and Nursing Certification 101: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses caring for the tiniest hearts

Photo of Greta

by Greta Kviklyte

Life Saver, AMC
Co-authored by Kim Murray, RN, M.S.

posted on Sep 19, 2015, at 9:43 pm



The first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, wasn’t actually formed until 1960. With that in mind, NICU nurses are quite new, especially compared to traditional or more general nursing which has been an organized practice since the 1800s.

When choosing a nursing career and the type of nursing certification to pursue, some consider specialized training for the smallest patients, who require a special kind of TLC.

NICU Colorful Letters with stethoscope on wood backgroundNICU nurses work as a staff of registered nurses, who only care for infants often born in the hospital or healthcare facility. NICU nurses receive nursing certifications that allow them to specifically care for infants who undergo several complications such as delivery issues, prematurity and congenital defects.

NICU nurses are responsible for infant’s lives, a job that goes beyond basic nursing care. Daily responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Providing nutritional evaluations and conducting tailored feedings
  • Monitoring vital signs at all times
  • Inserting IVs and catheters
  • Educating and communicating to family members of the patient
  • Reporting all necessary information and establishing a discharge plan
  • Administering medications and scheduling prescriptions

The above list of daily responsibilities is quite limited as NICU nurses are responsible for a variety of tasks depending on the type of NICU nurse (level II, III, and IV), and the extent of the nurse certifications earned in training or schooling.

NICU nurses, like many other nurses, often work long hours and shifts. Sometimes, NICU nurses can work anywhere from 8 to twelve-hour shifts in addition to working holidays and weekends. Always choose to respect nurses for this reason alone!

The Path to Becoming a NICU Nurse:

NICU nurses are registered nurses (RNs), which require a college degree. Employers often prefer you obtain a bachelor’s degree, although some will accept associate’s degrees. Some college grads will continue with their education, receiving graduate degrees.

After graduation, many employers require that any NICU nurse receive prior experience in pediatrics or an intensive care unit setting due to the complexity and intensity of the ICU. Training and certification for nursing in the NICU can range from six weeks to three months, depending on the prior training of the individual.

Finally, nurses must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain the actual registered licensure.

Quick Facts

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for NICU nurses
    was $66,640 in 2014, ranging from $45,880 to $98,880.
  • According to the U.S Department of Labor, a career in registered nursing is
    expected to experience a 19-percent growth increase until 2022

NICU nurses require more specific nursing certification than that of many typical RNs, but demands a genuine compassion for those in their first months of life.

For more information about nursing certifications offered through Advanced Medical Certification, you can click here to be re-directed.

Kleenex recently released a campaign called “Tiny Miracles”, surprising a compassionate NICU nurse named Renee. Check it out below (have tissues ready!)


Have you considered a career as a NICU nurse?

About Greta

Greta is a dedicated life saver and a distinguished expert in the field of medical content creation and editing. Her impressive array of certifications in ACLS, CPR, PALS, and BLS underscores her commitment to excellence in the medical field. With over four years of invaluable experience in medical education, Greta plays an indispensable role within the Advanced Medical Certification team, shaping the way healthcare professionals around the world acquire and apply vital knowledge.

Greta's profound expertise serves as the driving force behind the development and distribution of medical content that has significantly enhanced the capabilities of countless healthcare practitioners across the globe.

In addition to her medical qualifications, Greta holds a prestigious academic distinction in Marketing and Global Business from Vilnius University. Her academic journey has been enriched by immersive studies in Slovakia and Portugal during her time as an exchange student, providing her with a global perspective that complements her medical expertise.

Beyond her professional commitments, Greta possesses a genuine passion for global exploration, with a particular focus on immersing herself in diverse cultures and appreciating the intricacies of the natural world. While residing in Vilnius, Lithuania, she continues to make substantial contributions to the field of medical education, leaving an indelible mark on the sector.

Reach out to Greta at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *