How to Become a
School Nurse

Male nurse putting a bandage on a girl's arm

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a School Nurse, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide contains important information such as educational and training requirements, necessary skills, average salaries and more.

What Does a School Nurse Do?

School Nurses have several important responsibilities, from leading school-wide health initiatives to providing preventative health screenings to both students and staff. School Nurses can work in a number of different settings, including public schools, private schools, hospitals and public health departments.

In addition to treating students’ minor injuries and illnesses, School Nurses are also depended upon to provide communication between students, parents and administration, assist families in seeking the appropriate medical care outside of school and advising other members of the school’s faculty in order to promote healthy practices in the classroom. Common School Nurse duties and responsibilities include:

  • Managing immunizations

  • Providing referrals to private medical professionals

  • Helping students maintain good health even when they're not in school

School Nurse Skills

Assisting students who have a minor cut or a stomachache is certainly a big part of being a School Nurse, but there are many other aspects of the job that are just as important. For instance, a School Nurse must be able to identify the early warning signs of both physical and mental illness, be familiar with how to treat special needs students and be able to educate students on how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, poor nutrition, obesity, drug abuse and other preventable problems.

Other key School Nurse skills include:

  • Sympathetic and patient demeanor

  • Strong communication skills

  • Excellent record management

  • Ability to lead and implement programs and plans

How Do You Become a School Nurse?

Education and Training

According to our analysis of online job postings, the vast majority of employers are looking for School Nurses who are a certified R.N. (Registered Nurse) or LPN (Licensed Practicing Nurse). Some employers also prefer candidates who have earned their BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing). Click here to find open nursing programs in your area.

Many employers also prefer candidates who have become certified in CPR, AED and First Aid. Although such certification may not be explicitly listed as a requirement, it can give you a considerable advantage in your job search. Click here to find certification courses from the American Red Cross near you.

In addition to employer preferences, you also need to consider state regulations. Each state has its own set of requirements that candidates must meet in order to legally become School Nurses, so while you might be qualified to be a School Nurse in one state, you could be significantly under qualified in another. To view a list of state-by-state School Nurse pre-service requirements, click here.

Finding a Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Registered Nurses, which includes School Nurses, is rising by an astounding 16 percent. This is projected to result in the opening of a whopping 439,300 new positions between through 2024.

Before you start your job search, you’ll want to have a carefully crafted resume ready. Take a look at JobHero’s library of expert-approved School Nurse resume samples for ideas.

Once you’ve written and polished your resume, conduct an online job search to find open positions in your area. Before you start sending off applications, however, consider preparing a cover letter. A good cover letter can convey your personality, reasons for applying and special areas of expertise to prospective employers. Check out our School Nurse cover letter sample for inspiration.

Insights from a School Nurse

We have gathered professionals in the industry what they think.

What should someone consider before becoming a School Nurse?

A school nurse deals with children that don't yet know how to properly communicate their symptoms. This means you need to work extra hard to figure things out. Also, you will have to deal with student's who just want to get out of class. Be ready to ask the right questions and make the right assessment.

What is the common career path for a School Nurse?

A school nurse has to go through the same process as any other nurse. You first need to enter into an undergraduate program in nursing and some cases, you are required to attain a master's degree depending on where you live. You may also be required to complete a registered nurse certification program as well as a teacher certification program.

What type of person excels in this job?

Empathetic, gentle and patient people make great nurses. To deal with children you must also be disciplined and strict when necessary.

What are some of the most important skills for School Nurses to have?

Aside from the basic nursing knowledge, a School Nurse should have a good comunication skills. You need to be able to listen and give good advice. You also need good judgement and be a quick problem solver.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a School Nurse?

If you love nursing and love working with children, this job is very rewarding. You get to help kids in a very important facet of their lives. Also, the work schedule is great, it's less stressful than working at a hospital and you get a competitive salary.

How Much Do School Nurses Get Paid?

Depending on where they work, School Nurses can be paid either on an hourly or annual basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for School Nurses is $32.45, with the lowest-paid earning $22.29 per hour and the highest-paid earning $48.86 per hour.

Top Ten States for School Nurse Salary

School Nurses in the following ten states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

    California

    $48.27

    Hawaii

    $44.37

    Alaska

    $42.37

    Oregon

    $40.96

    Massachusetts

    $40.36

    Nevada

    $39.12

    District of Columbia

    $38.28

    New Jersey

    $38.09

    New York

    $37.49

    Washington

    $37.03

    School Nurse Resources

    We collected this list of resources to help you keep exploring your career as a School Nurse.

    Professional Groups

    National Association of School Nurses
    Founded in 1968, the NASN’s mission is to optimize student health and learning by advancing the practice of School Nurses across the country. They provide their members with continuing education, research and publications, insurance discounts and an annual conference.

    National Board for Certification of School Nurses
    The NBCSN was founded in 1985, and promotes the voluntary certification of School Nurses for the purpose of improving the health and wellness of students. It provides certification verification, computer-based exams offered across the U.S., recertification programs and a yearly award open to all certified School Nurses.

    School Nurse Websites

    Diary of a School Nurse
    This blog is written by a School Nurse who has been working full time in a school setting since 1997. She posts updates on what she’s working on, tips for other School Nurses and things she’s learned through her work.

    All Nurses School Nurses Forum
    This active forum gives School Nurses a place to share stories, offer and receive advice, stay up to date on industry news and discuss common issues.

    School Nurse Books

    Manual of School Health
    This detailed but concise manual is a useful guide for both new and experienced School Nurses. Its up-to-date content includes step-by-step first aid procedures, growth charts, immunization schedules, an English-Spanish translation guide for common health terms, Internet resources, full-color visual reference inserts and more.

    First Aid (Quickstudy: Health)
    This portable and laminated reference guide provides quick and easy access to crucial information on symptoms, treatments and tips for a wide variety of medical conditions, and would make a valuable addition to the wall of any School Nurse’s office.