Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

What Is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) are advanced practice nurses who provide primary and specialty care to children from infancy through young adulthood. These nurses are crucial members of the healthcare team and generally work alongside pediatricians, although some work independently in their own private practices. As nurses, PNPs tend to take a more holistic approach to medicine than their physician counterparts. While gathering information about a patient's physical symptoms is crucial to providing effective patient care, understanding environmental and psychosocial factors are seen as equally important for PNPs. Although most PNPs work in primary care, many PNPs find themselves working in pediatric subspecialties like neurology, psychiatry/mental health, oncology, cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, and more.

What Are Some Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Duties?

Common duties that pediatric nurse practitioners are tasked with are likely to include:

  • Health maintenance care - childhood immunizations, well-child exams, etc.
  • Perform advanced physical assessments and developmental check-ups
  • Prescribe medication, order labs and diagnostic tests
  • Interpret lab and diagnostic test results
  • Act as a liaison between patients, their families, and doctors
  • Refer patients and their loved ones to community resources and to specialists as needed
  • Document and report concerns such as abuse, neglect, or developmental delays
  • Start IVs, dress wounds, suturing, etc.
  • Collaborate with the interdisciplinary healthcare team when needed
  • Care for and provide treatment for common pediatric illnesses like asthma, cough/flu, rashes, etc.
  • Care for and provide treatment for chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes, childhood cancer, epilepsy, etc.
  • Provide teen birth control counseling
  • Provide patients and their loved ones with emotional support and advice

Where Do Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Work?

PNPs find employment wherever children are treated for medical issues, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Surgery centers
  • Pediatric medical offices
  • Private practices
  • Community health clinics
  • Long-term care centers
  • Ambulatory care centers

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

If you're ready and willing to walk the long path toward becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, you'll need an active RN license and a master's (MSN), post-master's (DNP), or doctoral (Ph.D.) nursing degree which places an emphasis on the pediatric patient population. These can take anywhere from two to four years to complete beyond a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). After completing your graduate or post-graduate degree program, you can then go on the gain your national PNP certification credential.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become a pediatric nurse practitioner, the following educational requirements need to be met:

  • Earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Earn a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or Ph.D. with a specialty emphasis in pediatric care

Although classes will vary from program to program, most programs will have courses which cover the following topics:

  • Diagnosing and treating childhood illnesses and behavioral problems
  • Child growth and development
  • Assessment
  • Lab skills
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Ethics

Do Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Need an RN Degree?

Yes, in addition to holding an active and unrestricted RN license, PNPs must also hold graduate degrees in nursing which emphasize pediatrics and have at least one of the pediatric nurse practitioner credentials/certifications.

Step 2: Required Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certifications/Credentials

Pediatric nurse practitioner aspirants can become nationally certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Before seeking certification, candidates should consult with their respective state's Nursing Board to see which certifications their state's Board recognizes and accepts.

The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner credential (PPCNP-BC). To be eligible for this certification, individuals will need to have fulfilled the following requirements prior to submitting an application:

  • Hold a BSN degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Hold a graduate degree from an accredited academic institution which has the following included in the program:
    • No less than 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
    • Three courses in advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced physical/health assessment
    • Subject matter which relates to preventing disease and promoting health, and relating to differential diagnosis and disease management

The Pediatric Nurse Certification Board offers two separate pediatric nurse practitioner certifications:


*To be eligible for either of these certifications, individuals will need to have completed a BSN program, hold active and unrestricted RN licenses, and have completed a pediatric nurse practitioner program which has been approved by the CCNE or NLNAC.

The Pediatric Nurse Certification Board also offers a Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS). To be eligible for this certification, nurse practitioners will need:

  • Hold a BSN degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Hold a graduate degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Hold one of the following credentials:
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care (CPNP-PC)
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care (CPNP-AC)
    • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP-BC)

Other certifications that may be helpful:

  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Pediatric Emergency Assessment or Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS)
  • Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization (PEARS)

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs, Salary & Employment

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, by the year 2030 there is expected to be a shortage of around 40,800 to 104,900 doctors. To compound the problem, healthcare demands are growing due to the aging population. Nurse practitioners can help offset this shortage.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Leadership, strong observational and assessment skills, critical thinking, integrity, ability to work autonomously without direction, empathy, compassion, excellent interpersonal communication abilities, problem-solving skills
  • Job Outlook - The job outlook for nurse practitioners is quite positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for nurse practitioners, in general, will increase by 31 percent by 2024 - substantially higher than average. By 2024, it's expected that there will be at least 171,700 job openings for nurse practitioners.

What Is the Average Salary of a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

According to, the average annual salary for PNPs is about $87,855. The city/state of employment, employer, the nurse's education levels, what credentials they hold, and how much experience they have are all key factors that will contribute to how much they can earn. On top of their annual salaries, PNPs can also expect to receive benefits packages which include things like medical insurance coverage, retirement plans, life insurance packages, and paid vacation/sick leave.

How Much Do Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Make per Year?

  • $70,000 – $109,000 annually

How Much Do Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Make per Hour?

  • $47.37 average hourly wage

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Resources