Updated: October 26, 2021

Become a School Nurse Overview

  • What You Will Do: take vital signs, conduct preventive screenings, administer medications and treatments, give basic first aid, provide health counseling and education, and support students in self-management skills
  • Where Will You Work: elementary, middle, high school, summer camps, vocational schools, and college campuses.
  • Employment Projections: The nursing profession is projected to grow The 16% growth rate for all nurses from 2014-2024, but the growth rate for school nurses may be lower.
  • How Much Will You Earn: School nurses will earn between $38,500-$60,800 according to several public sources.
  • How Long Does it Take to Become an School Nurse: Get three years of full-time academic experience, or at least 4,000 hours of clinical practice.
  • Requirements to Become a School Nurse: BSN, RN licensure, RN work experience, School Nurse certification, board certified

How to Become Certified School Nurse in Five Steps

  1. Earn Your BSN – Earn your RN from an CCNE or ACEN accredited university. Your ADN/BSN credits will more likely be fully accepted in your MSN program. Guide to earning your BSN.
  2. Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Several study habits along with taking plenty of practice NCLEX-Tests will help you pass the first time. Check our guide and free exams with rationales.
  3. Work as RN – Get three years of full-time academic experience, or at least 4,000 hours of clinical practice.
  4. Pass the School Nurse Certification  – Take and pass the School Nurse certification exam through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
  5. Become Board Certified – Become a Certified School Nurse

Think back to grade school. If you got sick during class or needed a medication during the school day, you undoubtedly were sent to the nurse’s office.  At the time, you certainly didn’t consider their education or what they actually did all day.  You just knew they made you feel better.  You’d be surprised to know the full extent of the school nurse’s job.

What is a School Nurse?

According to the National Association of School Nurses, the school nurses job encompasses a wide range of responsibilities.  “Using clinical knowledge and judgment, the school nurse provides health care to students and staff, performs health screenings and coordinates referrals to the medical home or private healthcare provider.  The school nurse serves as a liaison between school personnel, family, community and healthcare providers to advocate for health care and a healthy school environment.”  To simplify, the school nurse certainly does the job that we perceive of a school nurse – caring for sick children – but their job description is vast.  They are concerned about the health of the students, in school and at home, and may need to advocate for the overall health of the school.

What Does a School Nurse Do?

The school nurse has a large responsibility – they are responsible for the well-being of students.  They keep accurate records regarding health conditions and medications. They perform assessments as necessary, evaluate, and intervene, even if intervening is difficult, such as in the case of an abused child.  They also may be an asked to incorporate wellness into the school routine, educating both staff and students alike. Please click here for a lengthy description of a school nurse’s responsibilities, as described by the America Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The school nurses job is also extremely important to the student with a chronic condition, such as asthma, food allergies or type 1 diabetes.  For patients with chronic disease, the nurse is charged with developing an individualized health care plan.  The health care plan includes a description of potential emergency care, such as the administration of an Epi-pen in the event of anaphylaxis. This plan must also be taught to other staff members who may need to act in the event of an emergency.

How Do I Become a School Nurse?

The type of nursing degree is dependent on the policy of the employing school district.  However, the AAP recommends that the school nurse hold a BSN degree, at a minimum.  The AAP also recommends that school nurses obtain licensure advanced certification in school nursing from the National Board of Certification of School Nurses.

If you’re seeking to become a school nurse, ideally you’d enroll in a BSN program.  You may be able to get a job as a school nurse right out of nursing school.  However, often these positions are competitive.  Bolster your experience by seeking employment as a pediatric nurse.

What is the School Nurse Job Outlook?

The job outlook for RN employment is on the rise – it is expected to rise 16% between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The job outlook for school nurses is most likely on the rise, as nursing employment in general is on the rise.  However, the job outlook also depends on the financial situation of the school district.  The budget is often a concern when hiring any staff.  If the school district is not well off financially, the district may be forced to cut corners and not hire an adequate amount of school nurses.

School Nurse Salaries By Experience Level

ExperienceAnnual SalaryMonthly SalaryHourly Rate
20+ Years$67,000$5,583$32
10 to 19 Years$58,000$4,833$28
5 to 9 Years$43,000$3,583$21
1 to 4 Years$38,000$3,167$18
Source: BLS – October, 2021

School Nurse Salary Trend

Year Annual Salary Hourly Rate
Source: BLS – October, 2021

What Are School Nurse Salaries?

The average RN is expected to earn $66,640 per year. However, the average school nurse can expect to earn a considerable amount less, according to Payscale. The average salary is about $39,036 per year.  While this is may not seem lucrative to some RNs, school nurses tend to go into this field for a feeling of purpose and job satisfaction. In addition, working as a school nurse affords the RN generous experience with pediatric population of the grade-school age. This type of employment may also be lucrative to the RN who is seeking to further their education and become a family nurse practitioner (FNP).

StateHourly WageMonthly PayAnnual Salary
New Hampshire$34$5,853$70,242
New Jersey$29$4,985$59,821
New Mexico$26$4,560$54,725
New York$35$6,029$72,342
North Carolina$22$3,791$45,490
North Dakota$28$4,782$57,387
Rhode Island$28$4,859$58,302
South Carolina$26$4,448$53,373
South Dakota$27$4,644$55,723
West Virginia$30$5,236$62,837
Source: BLS – October, 2021

Cities with the Highest School Nurse Salaries

City Annual Salary Hourly Rate
Santa Rosa, CA$70,366$34
Bremerton, WA$65,790$32
Providence, RI$63,814$31
New York, NY$60,237$29
Hamilton, NJ$54,787$26
Chicago, IL$48,464$23
Castle Rock, CO$47,923$23
Roseville, MN$47,778$23
Marietta, GA$47,778$23
El Paso, TX$46,197$22
Merrimack, NH$45,531$22
Indianapolis, IN$42,973$21
Flagstaff, AZ$42,702$21
Wilmington, NC$40,518$19
Waterloo, IA$40,290$19
Lees Summit, MO$39,520$19
Source: BLS – October, 2021

Online Nursing Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

School Nursing Resources and Organizations

Take the next step toward your healthcare future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.