NICU Nurse Salary: How Much Do Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses Make?

As a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse, you play a crucial role in the care and treatment of premature and sick newborns. Your job requires specialized knowledge and training, as well as a deep commitment to your patients and their families. But how much do NICU nurses make? In this article, we’ll explore the average NICU nurse salary, factors that can impact your earnings, and tips for negotiating your pay.

Understanding NICU Nursing

Before we dive into salary specifics, let’s take a moment to understand what NICU nursing entails. As a NICU nurse, you work with infants who require specialized medical care due to premature birth, illness, or other complications. Your job involves monitoring vital signs, administering medication, and providing emotional support to both the infant and their family.

To become a NICU nurse, you’ll need to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and obtain your registered nurse (RN) license. Many NICU nurses also pursue additional training and certifications to enhance their skills and knowledge.

NICU Nurse Salary: The Numbers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses is $75,330 as of May 2022. However, NICU nurses typically earn more than the average RN due to the specialized nature of their work.

In fact, a 2022 survey by found that the average annual salary for NICU nurses is $93,000. This figure can vary based on factors such as your level of experience, location, and employer.

Factors That Impact NICU Nurse Salary

While the average NICU nurse salary is higher than that of a general RN, your earnings can still be influenced by several factors:


Like most professions, NICU nurses can expect to earn higher salaries as they gain more experience. According to Payscale, the average NICU nurse with less than one year of experience earns around $57,000 per year, while those with 20+ years of experience can earn over $100,000 annually.


Where you work can also impact your salary as a NICU nurse. Generally, urban areas and larger hospitals tend to offer higher salaries than rural or smaller facilities. For example, a NICU nurse in New York City can expect to earn around $101,000 per year, while a nurse in a smaller city like Louisville, Kentucky, may earn closer to $70,000.

Education and Certifications

As mentioned earlier, obtaining additional education and certifications can help NICU nurses earn higher salaries. For example, a NICU nurse with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree may earn more than a nurse with just a BSN. Certifications in neonatal resuscitation, pediatric advanced life support, and other specialties can also increase your earning potential.

Tips for Negotiating Your NICU Nurse Salary

Whether you’re starting your career as a NICU nurse or looking to increase your earnings, negotiating your salary can be a key factor in your overall compensation. Here are some tips to help you negotiate your NICU nurse salary:

Do your research

Know the average salary for NICU nurses in your area and your experience level.

Emphasize your qualifications

Highlight your education, certifications, and experience that make you a valuable asset to your employer.

Be flexible

Consider negotiating non-monetary benefits like more paid time off or a flexible schedule.

Practice your negotiation skills

Role-play with a friend or family member to build confidence and prepare for tough questions.