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School Nurse Career Guide

If you enjoy helping children and have a strong stomach, then a career as a school nurse is an incredibly rewarding career that may interest you.

School nurses work across education and health, providing a link between school, home and the community. School nurses need to complete either a a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree.

A school nurse provides preventative services, help identify physical or mental health issues, and do so much more to ensure that students and their families have access to the resources they need to lead healthier lives.

Amanda Cruse

School Nurse Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life School Nurse Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the School Nurse field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33931 Registered School Nurse And Ambuance Critical Care Nurse Female 37 $50,000 Glendale, AZ 01/01/2010
32690 School Nurse Female 56 $52,000 Ruidoso, NM 01/01/2010

Overview

What a school nurse does

If you like the idea of becoming a nurse, but you are also interested in working in a school, opposed to a hospital or doctor’s office, then a career as a school nurse might be a perfect fit for you.

School nurses work in elementary schools, high schools or colleges and are responsible for treating students who are injured or sick. For example, a child may sustain injuries that require first aid during gym class or recess. Or, students may suddenly become sick and need to see the nurse. The nurse can provide basic treatment and may suggest that the student go home or see a physician. As well as providing nursing care, school nurses also:

  • Maintain student’s health records
  • Collect information from parents about a child
  • Collect a child’s immunization history and see whether they need more immunizations
  • Check whether a child has an allergies or specific needs
  • Determining health risks and developing disease prevention plans for the school

Why they are needed

School nurses play a crucial role in society. They help children and families gain help and support when required. They have many benefits in the school system. However, the main ones include:

  • Educating children, parents and teachers
  • Inspiring a whole generation to live happy and healthy lives
  • Preventing illnesses from progression
  • Early intervention
  • Policy development and enforcement at schools
  • Capacity building
  • Community mobilization
  • Community economic development

Pros and cons of being a school nurse

Pros:

  • Unlike other nurses, school nurses are likely to work normal full time hours
  • It is a very rewarding career
  • School nurses get to interact and socialize with people each day
  • There are opportunities to progress and advance skills
  • School nurses get long summer and Christmas holidays

Cons: 

  • It is a very physically demanding job as nurses are on their feet all day
  • There is a lot of responsibility, stress and pressure as a nurse. This may lead to emotional burnout
  • School nurses may be exposed to diseases and viruses
  • School nurses will sometimes have to work with difficult and challenging students and families

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses, which includes school nurses, is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This employment growth is expected because more school nurses will be needed to educate younger people.

Career paths

To become a school nurse, you must firstly qualify and register as a nurse or midwife. To do this, you will need to complete one of the following nursing programs: a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree. Bachelors degrees are often preferable as they usually include courses in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking and is therefore often necessary for career progression.

After completing the required education, school nurses nurses must have a nursing license issue by the state in which they work. To get this license, nurse graduates in all states must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and pass a criminal background check. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. In addition, registered nursing positions may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification.

The final step is to becoming a school nurse is to gather several years of clinical experience, before working in the school sector. This allows aspiring school nurses to become independent and critical thinkers.

Example Job Titles for School Nurse

Below is a list of common job titles in the School Nurse field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for all registered nurse, which includes school nurses, in the United States was $73,300 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,080 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,220 per year. Specifically, nurses in educational services (state, local and private) earn a median salary of $63,690.

Autonomy and Flexibility

To begin with, school nurses will work in a clinical setting. In this setting, they may have to closely follow the instructions of more senior healthcare professionals, meaning autonomy is lower. However, as a school nurse, they are likely to be the one of the only nurses in that setting. As a result, they will have a lot of responsibility and their autonomy increases.

Flexibility is lower as school nurses will often be restricted to working within school hours.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a school nurse, based on salary and number of jobs available are:

  1. Alaska, where the average annual salary is $81,318
  2. Connecticut, where the average annual salary is $60,741
  3. Rhode Island, where the average annual salary is $66,880
  4. Nevada, where the average annual salary is $55,065
  5. California, where the average annual salary is $65,035

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, North Carolina and Utah.

Work environment

In the United States, only 3% of registered nurses were employed in educational services.

School nurses may work in one school where they will work closely with teachers. Or, they may spend time travelling to different schools.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in School Nurse careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and School Nurse career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in School Nurse.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

Big Five (OCEAN)

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

On the Myers-Briggs type indicator, schools nurses are likely to be an ESFJ type. This is because they are gregariaous, warm, welcoming and highly organized. On top of this, ESFJ’s have a genuine interest in providing for others and taking care of them, which are important characteristics for any type of nurse.

Accomplishment and mastery

Once qualified, school nurses can quickly advance from registered nurses in clinical settings to the more autonomous role of a school nurse. Therefore, they will accomplish and master new skills and responsibilities very quickly.

Meaning and contribution

There is incredibly high meaning and contribution to the work of a school nurse as they play a crucial role in bringing education and health together. School nurses greatly improve and aid the lives of many, students. They play a critical role in society and their work has great meaning and contribution.

Life fit

Nurses who work in schools do not provide 24-hour care and unlike other nurses, they are more likely to have regular business hours. Therefore, out of all nursing careers, one as a school nurse gives the best life fit.

Who will thrive in this career?

Those who are passionate about helping others are likely to succeed as school nurses, as the entire career is centred around being compassionate and empathetic. Similarly, those who enjoy the company of children are likely to thrive as a nurse. Finally, if you are organized and diligent then you are likely to thrive as a school nurse.

Who will struggle in this career?

It goes without saying that those who don’t like blood or injury will struggle as a school nurse… it is not a career for the faint hearted! On top of this, those who prefer to work with little social interaction, and who aren’t physically fit enough to walk around all day and lift students may struggle as a school nurse.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as physical stamina, school nurses will also need skills such as:

  • Written and verbal communication skills, as school nurses will have to keep patient records up to date and communicate ideas and plans with students and their families
  • Compassion and empathy, as nurses must be caring and understanding when working with school ages children
  • Critical thinking, as school nurses must assess students and come up with solutions to problems
  • Attention to detail, as nurses must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time
  • Organizational skills, as school nurses may have to travel to different settings and must ensure that they stick to timings

Education

School nurse must first qualify and register as a nurse or midwife. To do this, you will need to complete one of the following nursing programs: a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree. Bachelors degrees are often preferable as they usually include courses in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking and is therefore often necessary for career progression.

Certifications

After completing the required education, all registered nurses, including school nurses, must have a nursing license issue by the state in which they work. To get this license, nurse graduates in all states must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and pass a criminal background check. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. In addition, school nursing positions may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification.

How to Become

Summary

School nurses work across the education and health sector to provide a link between school, home and the community. They help treat injuries and illnesses of students at elementary school, high school or colleges.

A career as a school nurse is suitable for someone who is compassionate, enjoys working with children and has a strong stomach.

Immediate action

If becoming a school nurse sounds appealing to you, consider choosing high school diplomas in biology or anatomy.

Education and learning

School nurses need to complete one of the following nursing programmes: a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree.

Skill development

Nurses learn many of their skills through their education and clinical work experience. They then continue to develop their skills throughout their career and with further certification and training.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about School Nurse careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33931 Registered School Nurse And Ambuance Critical Care Nurse Female 37 $50,000 Glendale, AZ 01/01/2010
32690 School Nurse Female 56 $52,000 Ruidoso, NM 01/01/2010

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