Salary for NICU Nurse

Average Salary for NICU Nurse: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Role & Responsibilities

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses are specialized registered nurses who care for premature and critically ill newborns in hospitals. They are responsible for administering medication, monitoring vital signs, and providing emotional support to both the infants and their families. The salary for NICU nurse can vary depending on several factors, including education, certification, experience, and location. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses as of May 2020 was $75,330, but NICU nurses may earn higher salaries due to the specialized nature of their work. In general, NICU nurses in the United States can earn an average salary of around $69,000 to $110,000 per year, depending on their qualifications and the region they work in. It’s important to note that salaries may also vary depending on the type of employer and the benefits offered.

How much does Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses Earn

According to Ziprecruiter, the typical neonatal nurse income is $100,944 per year, or $48.53 per hour.
range of pay for neonatal nurses

According to ZipRecruiter, the majority of neonatal nurses made between $74,000 and $127,000 annually. Nonetheless, incomes varied widely, from $24,500 to $156,500.

The average income for neonatal nurses varies widely across the nation. Because the range is so big, the overall pay structure can be affected by a wide range of skill levels and other factors like experience level and location of the workplace.

Neonatal Nurse Pay Compared to the Typical RN Pay

Neonatal nurses appear to make more money than the typical American registered nurse. According to the BLS, the average nurse’s hourly wage in 2021 was $37.31, or 77,600. According to ZipRecruiter, neonatal nurses make an average of $100,944 a year, or $48.53 an hour.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses by experience

Neonatal nurses typically start off with a lesser wage and increase it as they work their way up the corporate ladder.

According to, the pay scales for neonatal nurses in the US are as follows:

  • neonatal nurse with less than a year of experience at entry level: $25.94 for each hour
  • Neonatal nurse, $31.14 per hour, 1-4 years of experience
  • $33.79 per hour for a neonatal nurse with 5 to 9 years of experience
  • $35.60 per hour for a neonatal nurse with 10 to 19 years of experience
  • $40.87 per hour for a neonatal nurse with over 20 years of experience
  • The starting salary for neonatal nurses with the fewest years of experience is likely to be around $24,000, while the highest-paid ones are likely to make over $156,000 yearly.

Salary of a Neonatal Nurse by Work Environment

Neonatal nurses often work in

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • medical facilities.

In hospitals, neonatal nurses frequently work in the postpartum, delivery, or intensive care units (NICU).

Hospital jobs typically pay the highest for neonatal nurses. Neonatal nurses frequently earn additional compensation, which includes:

  • Benefits
  • Paid overtime
  • Dental and medical insurance
  • Pay for working nights or weekends with a different shift
  • Payment for tuition
  • payment for certification examinations

The state where you work, the cost of living there, and the number of years you’ve worked as a neonatal nurse are the main factors that affect your pay. In general, nurses who work in larger metropolises make more money than those who work in rural areas.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses Role & Responsibilities

As a specialized type of registered nurse, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses have specific duties and responsibilities related to caring for premature and critically ill newborns. Some of their main responsibilities include:

  1. Monitoring vital signs: NICU nurses monitor vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels to ensure the newborn’s health and stability.
  2. Administering medication: NICU nurses administer medications to newborns as prescribed by doctors to manage their health conditions and relieve symptoms.
  3. Performing diagnostic tests: NICU nurses may perform diagnostic tests such as blood tests and X-rays to help diagnose and monitor the newborn’s health condition.
  4. Assisting with medical procedures: NICU nurses assist with medical procedures such as feeding tube insertion, IV placement, and blood transfusions.
  5. Providing emotional support: NICU nurses provide emotional support to the newborns and their families by answering questions, explaining procedures, and offering encouragement.
  6. Collaborating with other healthcare professionals: NICU nurses collaborate with doctors, respiratory therapists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement treatment plans.
  7. Documenting patient information: NICU nurses document patient information, including vital signs, medications administered, and treatments given, in the medical record.
  8. Educating parents: NICU nurses educate parents about newborn care, feeding techniques, and ways to promote infant health and development.


How to Raise Your Neonatal Nurse Pay

One of the following suggestions could help you earn more money as a neonatal nurse:

Get More Education

Your ability to make money as a neonatal RN is greatly influenced by your level of schooling. Many nurses begin their careers with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and many of them go on to earn additional degrees while working as registered nurses in hospitals or other facilities.


If a neonatal nurse becomes board certified by earning the following certifications, many employers boost their hourly pay:

In order to care for neonatal infants who are acutely or critically ill as well as their families in a critical care setting, nurses must have at least two years of specialist expertise.

In a number of ways, getting certified can result in extra money:

  • increased pay per hour
  • opportunities for enhancing creativity
  • Certified neonatal nurses are more likely to be hired by employers, giving you the opportunity to select from higher-paying positions.


Negotiating a higher compensation is another approach for neonatal nurses to increase their income. For new hires, several employers have a wage structure. Yet, there might be some opportunity for compromise, especially if the company where you wish to work is having trouble filling neonatal nursing positions.


Neonatal travel nurses are registered nurses who accept assignments of 4 to 16 weeks in hospitals or other healthcare facilities when there is a nursing shortage.

Instead of a base hourly rate, travel nurses typically receive a “total pay package” that typically includes:

  • a regular hourly wage
  • a welcome bonus
  • reimbursements for travel
  • housing, food, and a travel allowance
  • any costs connected to my employment

Your Workstyle


Career nurses are nursing staff members who work full- or part-time for a hospital or medical facility. Career nurses typically receive an hourly income in addition to a benefits package that includes a retirement plan, paid time off, health and dental insurance, reimbursement for educational expenses, and other perks.

Career nurses begin their careers with entry-level salaries but progress to higher hourly rates as they gain experience in the field.

Each Day

Per diem nurses are simply paid an hourly fee for the shifts they work, as opposed to career nurses who are paid an hourly rate and receive a benefits package. Nonetheless, the hourly pay for per diem nurses is higher.

Moreover, per diem nurses are not granted paid holidays or sick days. Yet, because they don’t have a regular schedule like many career nurses do, they are paid more per hour for their flexibility in the workplace.

Picking your own schedule is one of the key advantages of working on a per diem basis as a neonatal nurse. This frequently works well for nurses who simultaneously work at another hospital or for working parents who only work when they have child care.


A full-time nurse working in a hospital under contract for anywhere from four weeks to six months is known as a contract nurse. Nurses have two options after their initial contract expires: they can either sign a new one with the same hospital or at another one.

The promise of full-time hours throughout the contract is one of the financial advantages of working as a neonatal contract nurse. This implies that regardless of the reason your work is canceled, you will still be paid your regular hourly rate for the shift.

Contract nurses include travel nurses. Yet, some hospitals provide chances to work as a contract nurse without relocating.

OVERTIME Extra Compensation

Overtime-working nurses are entitled to higher remuneration for their extra work hours. This typically means:

working more than a 12-hour shift or more than 40 hours per week (within 24 hours)
Although overtime pay varies depending on the location, it typically ranges from 1.5 to 3 times the standard hourly rate. Working a lot of overtime can soon add up. But, some nurses may experience burnout if they put in too much overtime, so it’s vital to be careful.


For working weekends, holidays, evening, or night shifts, an employee is paid more. Shift differentials typically contribute a few extra dollars to a typical hourly income.

Although it might not seem like much, over time, that might add up. When the administration is off duty and the unit can seem more quieter, many neonatal nurses choose to work nights or weekends.

BONUSES Bonuses are frequently given to nurses as an inducement to accept a new position at a facility, particularly when they need to hire a lot of nurses. The value of bonuses might range from few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Before agreeing, it’s crucial to read the small print and comprehend the bonus conditions. In order to keep the incentive, many hospitals ask that you continue to work there two to five years per year. You could have to pay it back if you leave early.

Hazard Pay

Hazard pay is extra money paid to healthcare workers who do their duties in potentially dangerous circumstances. Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, when hospitals were severely understaffed and receiving a high volume of COVID-19 patients, we frequently witnessed this happening.

Has Covid-19 had an impact on Neonatal Nurses’ Expected Salary?

While not caring for the same adult patient group that COVID-19 had the greatest impact on, neonatal nurses who had prior experience with adult patients nonetheless became travelers. Nonetheless, a lot of neonatal nurses who traveled discovered that their field’s travel compensation was also significantly greater.

During COVID-19, several hospitals didn’t have enough nurses for newborns, so they offered hiring bonuses to get them.

Remuneration of a neonatal nurse versus the cost of education

It costs a lot to go nursing school to become a neonatal nurse. To make the decision that is best for you, it is crucial to do your study on your possibilities.

ADN programs can cost between $6,000 and $20,000. A community college or technician school requires a minimum of two years to complete this kind of program.

Costs for a BSN range from $35,000 to $100,000. In either a public or private four-year institution, this type of curriculum requires four years to finish.

Other factors that may affect the cost of nursing school include:

  • The standing and prestige of the school
  • The length of the show (some schools offer expedited programs)
  • State and location of your residence

Additional expenses for nursing school include the following.

  • Books,
  • supplies,
  • lab costs
  • additional expenses, like as rent and NCLEX exam fees for the National Council Licensure Examination

Nursing Career Jobs

Pediatric Nurse

According to ZipRecruiter, the majority of pediatric nurses made between $60,500 and $87,500 annually. Yet, compensation ranged from $46,000 to $117,500, depending on the position.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses

According to NICU Nurse Ziprecruiter, NICU nurses make an average of $101,727 per year, or $49 per hour. They do, however, point out that the annual wages for NICU nurses can range from $83,000 to $125,000.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal nurse practitioners in the US make a mean annual pay of $110,249, or $53 per hour, according to data from ZipRecruiter. They say that depending on the type of facility, the amount of experience, and the cost of living in the location, annual compensation can range from $85,500 to as high as $122,500.

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