Neonatal NurseIf you find the medical field to be fascinating and are also interested in caring for infants, you may want to know how to become a neonatal nurse. Pursuing this vocational path can be fun and exciting, and the outline below will help you take the steps necessary to pursue the career of your dreams.

Becoming A Neonatal Nurse

If you are interested in becoming a neonatal nurse, you should know that the first step involved is completing the educational requirements. First, you need to complete an undergraduate education by obtaining an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. The associate’s degree program takes two years to complete while the bachelor’s degree program involves a commitment of four years. Although neither of these programs will offer a nursing specialty track, some of them will offer nursing electives that pertain to neonatal care.If you are interested in becoming a neonatal advanced practice nurse, you will be required to obtain a master’s or doctorate in neonatal nursing. Typically, these degree programs can be completed within two to three years.


According to Innerbody, nursing training starts during school in skills labs and real-world clinical settings. After you have developed your neonatal skill set during your degree program, you will receive additional training through your employer. By working in the NICU and completing classes, you’ll attain the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to be successful in your chosen career sector. Your post-graduation training can take anywhere from six weeks to three months, and how long the training takes is contingent upon your previous experience. In some cases, a facility may require a recent nursing graduate to obtain one or two years of maternal nursing or general nursing experience prior to beginning work within the NICU setting. Individuals who wish to work as advanced practice nurses will receive intensive training via graduate school, and this will be followed by an on-the-job training format.

Licensing and Certification

After completing your educational requirements, aspiring neonatal nurses will be required to pass the NCLEX examination and subsequently attain their state license. There will also be state-delegated licensure requirements, which can include anything from education verification to background checks. Once the neonatal nurse has worked for a specified period of time, he or she can complete an application for certification. This process will be done through a nationally recognized certifying body like the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Although broadly defined, being “certified” means that the nurse has proved his or her expertise in a specific field. In the majority of cases, advanced practice neonatal nurses will not be able to start working until they are granted certification. Also, nurses who wish to maintain their certification and/or licensure must complete continuing education credits (CEC) and demonstrate that they are active within the field.

Skill Requirements

There are a plethora of skills that an individual who wishes to become a neonatal nurse should have. Some of them include critical thinking skills, as the health status of the typical NICU infant will shift rapidly. Aspiring neonatal nurses should also be detail-oriented, a requirement made necessary by the presence of multiple technologies within this medical sector. Additionally, the aspiring neonatal nurse should have compassion, patience, and the ability to effectively communicate abstract concepts to parents from a plethora of sociocultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator


Individuals who have given consideration to the pursuit of a career in the field of neonatal nursing should note that doing so can be personally and professionally rewarding. Now that you know about the educational and training requirements involved to become a neonatal nurse, you can determine whether pursuing a career in this vocational sector would be in your best interest.