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What would you do if told that your care can heal a person who is in critical condition? If you answer is that you will do all that it takes, then you have what is required to be a critical care nurse. And it's worth mentioning that a practicing Critical Care Nurse gets around $26 per hour, more than enough to justify your time, care, and patience.

Nursing is a profession where the margin of error is zero, all the time, so you cannot jump into this profession right away. Instead, it would help if you get an Associate or Bachelors Degree in Nursing to be a licensed nurse. These programs will equip you with most of the health care knowledge and hands-on experience of dealing with patients. Also, you have to get supervised clinical experience before serving.

As a critical care nurse, you can serve in any hospital for 40 hours a week. Or can be hired to take care of patients in a critical condition at their home. Whatever you choose, stay calm and be kind hearted to help your patient heal faster.

What Does a Critical Care Nurse Do

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Learn more about what a Critical Care Nurse does

How To Become a Critical Care Nurse

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.

Education

In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 or more years of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing can give details. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must be able to assess changes in the health status of patients, including determining when to take corrective action and when to make referrals.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication, clearly. They must be able to work in teams with other health professionals and communicate the patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when caring for patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be responsible and detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as moving patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Advancement

Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuous education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses can advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are requiring a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership, communication skills, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs choose to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities.

Critical Care Nurse Career Paths

Average Salary for a Critical Care Nurse

Critical Care Nurses in America make an average salary of $79,482 per year or $38 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $136,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $46,000 per year.
Average Critical Care Nurse Salary
$79,482 Yearly
$38.21 hourly
$46,000
10 %
$79,000
Median
$136,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Critical Care Nurse Education

Critical Care Nurse Majors

81.6 %

Critical Care Nurse Degrees

Bachelors

49.4 %

Associate

32.5 %

Masters

9.6 %

Top Colleges for Critical Care Nurses

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

7. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

10. Chamberlain College of Nursing - Arlington

Arlington, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$19,375
Enrollment
506

Top Skills For a Critical Care Nurse

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.6% of critical care nurses listed patient care on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and compassion are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Critical Care Nurse Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Critical Care Nurse templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Critical Care Nurse resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Critical Care Nurse Demographics

Critical Care Nurse Gender Distribution

Female
Female
81%
Male
Male
19%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among critical care nurses, 81.1% of them are women, while 18.9% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among critical care nurses is White, which makes up 69.8% of all critical care nurses.

  • The most common foreign language among critical care nurses is Spanish at 57.0%.

Online Courses For Critical Care Nurse That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

The Vohra Wound Care Certification program was developed by Vohra Wound Physicians. Vohra is the largest group of wound physicians in the United States, with more than 20 years of clinical experience providing wound care services to more than 3000 skilled nursing facilities in 30 states, with thousands of patients treated every month. We believe every patient, family, nurse, and caregiver can be empowered through education. Hundreds of thousands of people have already benefited from this course...

Symptom Management in Palliative Care
coursera

This course should be taken after the Essentials of Palliative Care course and continues building your primary palliative care skills - communication, psychosocial support and goals of care. You will learn how to screen, assess, and manage both physical and psychological symptoms. You will explore common symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, and distress and learn specific treatments. You will continue to follow Sarah and Tim's experience and learn cultural competencies critical for optimal sy...

Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

Vohra’s expert physicians developed this advanced wound care program to help you deliver excellent healthcare: Understand the latest, most innovative wound care techniques and treatment options Identify the different types of wounds and recommended treatment plan for non-healing wounds Review the primary wound dressing options and wound care products Treat wound patients confidently, leading to improved medical outcomes Benefit from an enhanced knowledge share from Vohra´s healthcare...

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Best States For a Critical Care Nurse

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a critical care nurse. The best states for people in this position are California, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington. Critical care nurses make the most in California with an average salary of $121,097. Whereas in New York and Massachusetts, they would average $107,869 and $104,973, respectively. While critical care nurses would only make an average of $102,416 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Critical Care Nurse Jobs:
6,367
Highest 10% Earn:
$169,000
Location Quotient:
1.02 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. North Dakota

Total Critical Care Nurse Jobs:
795
Highest 10% Earn:
$138,000
Location Quotient:
1.26 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Critical Care Nurse Jobs:
1,605
Highest 10% Earn:
$151,000
Location Quotient:
1.35 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Critical Care Nurses

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Top Critical Care Nurse Employers

Most Common Employers For Critical Care Nurse

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Medical Staffing Network$90,876$43.6927
2US Air Conditioning Distributors$86,868$41.7619
3Methodist Hospital Of Henderson, Kentucky$82,211$39.5231
4Parallon$80,484$38.6917
5Memorial Hospital$79,482$38.2127
6University of Maryland Medical System$79,482$38.2126
7Cambridge Health Alliance$79,482$38.2121
8St. Joseph Medical Center$79,482$38.2116
9Good Samaritan$75,316$36.2123
10HealthTrust$73,961$35.5620

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