Children's nurse: job description (2024)

Children's nurses plan and provide nursing care to children affected by a wide variety of illnesses and medical conditions.

What does a children’s nurse do? Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Skills

Children's nurses (also known as known as paediatric nurses) treat babies and children up to the age of 16. They work alongside a team of professional and medical staff including includes doctors, health visitors, healthcare assistants, hospital play staff, social workers and psychologists.

As you progress, you could specialise in a particular area or group of patients, such as new-born babies or children receiving palliative care. You could also become a health visitor and work with new parents, babies and young children in the community.

Typical duties include:

  • assessing patients’ needs and planning the nursing care required.
  • monitoring patients’ pulse, temperature and blood pressure, and keeping notes of observations.
  • providing care before and after operations.
  • administering injections and intravenous infusions.
  • treating wounds.
  • taking samples from patients.
  • checking on the condition of patients.
  • dealing with emergencies.
  • supervising junior staff.
  • organising workloads.
  • tutoring student nurses.
  • obtaining parental consent for treatment.
  • providing information, emotional support and reassurance to patients and relatives.

Twelve-hour shift work is usually a standard requirement of the job, although you are entitled to a 11-hour break between each one. The nature of the work also means that you’ll work evenings, nights and weekends; these tend to be planned on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and you’re entitled to 24 hours’ rest every seven days.

You may work in homes and clinics as well as in hospitals.

Graduate salaries

NHS nurses’ salaries are set by the government rather than individual hospitals. Newly qualified adult nurses will start at band 5 with a salary of around £25,500. Pay increases with experience, individual job listings tell us that those at band 6 or 7 can earn between £35,000 and £50,000. If you work in London, you’ll be entitled to a high-cost area supplement to cover the higher costs of working in the capital.

Typical employers

  • NHS trusts.
  • Private hospitals.
  • Schools.
  • Health centres.
  • Hospices.
  • NHS24 and other helplines.

You’ll find NHS jobs advertised by individual trusts, as well as at, and Specialist recruitment agencies also advertise roles, both for NHS and private hospitals, although these jobs tend to be for more experienced nurses.

Qualifications and training required

The main route to becoming a children’s nurse is to specialise in children’s nursing as part of a nursing degree. (There are four areas of focus in nursing degrees; besides children’s nursing, you can also specialise in learning disability nursing, adult nursing or mental health nursing. Some degree courses cover two of these fields, and are known as 'dual field' degrees. These take four years instead of three.) You’ll experience a mix of formal teaching and practical experience on your degree.

Apply for full-time undergraduate nursing degrees through UCAS. Application criteria vary but you are likely to need at least two (and sometimes three) A levels or equivalent qualifications, plus GCSEs in English, maths and a science.

Alternatively, if you already have a degree in a nursing-related subject such as health, biological or social science, you could qualify as a nurse via a shortened two-year postgraduate course (also known as a conversion course). You’ll need to check directly with institutions to find out if your degree course is acceptable for entry.

You can also qualify as a children’s nurse with a degree apprenticeship. Unlike a degree, this will involve working in a health-related role while studying on regularly scheduled days.

All nurses working in the UK must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). When you complete your nursing degree, your university will send your details to the NMC, which will invite you to register. You’ll need to renew your registration and pay the registration fee each year, and you must revalidate your registration every three years.

As part of your registration, you’ll need to complete a minimum of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) and 450 hours of registered practice over three years.

You don’t need work experience to become a nurse, but any gained caring for or working with people can be helpful – for example, volunteering at a children’s holiday club.

Key skills for children's nurses

  • Excellent observation skills when monitoring children for changes in their health – children cannot always communicate how they are feeling.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • The ability to work with people from all backgrounds.
  • The ability to handle stressful and upsetting situations calmly.
  • Teamwork skills.
  • Organisational skills.

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Children's nurse: job description (2024)
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