Pediatric Nursing Career Pathways

Pediatric nurses have many opportunities to become leaders at the bedside and beyond. Find inspiration – and your future – with our infographic career planners!

Pediatric Nursing Career Pathways

Pediatric nursing offers a variety of career opportunities, but are you familiar with all the rewarding roles and leadership options in this specialty?

Use IPN’s library of career pathways to make a plan for your future... or support other nurses or students in their journey. Download a PDF of all pathways. Give feedback on these resources.

ID: Green bulb with text "Tip 1" on a blue background and text "For Faculty"

Spark interest in pediatric nursing careers for students with our immersive educator's guide. Use this resource to engage students with clear career steps and interactive classroom activities. 

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The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board offers a free pediatric RN competency framework, plus a free continuing education activity. An advanced practice framework is coming soon. 


ID: blue, white, and gold lapel pin for Certified Pediatric Nurses on green background

Certified Pediatric Nurse: Children aren’t little adults. As a vulnerable population, they need specialized care from RNs with confirmed expertise in pediatrics. Becoming a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) is a professional milestone for RNs in a wide variety of settings and roles who want to demonstrate their knowledge in and commitment to pediatric nursing. Get your plan. 


ID: Blue symbol representing a Clinical Nurse Leader on a green background

Clinical Nurse Leader: A pediatric clinical nurse leader wants to answer questions like “Is it effective?” and “Is it efficient?” with the end goal of improving health outcomes for children, adolescents, and young adults. They identify gaps in health care, ways to decrease costs, and priorities so they can communicate findings to leaders and implement changes. Get your plan. 


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Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: A pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) has graduate level education to provide health care for children, adolescents, and young adults. They work in different settings like hospitals, private practice, or specialty clinics to promote overall health and well-being. Get your plan. 


ID: Blue magnifying glass looking at data, on a green background

Pediatric Nurse Scientist: Pediatric nurse scientists (or nurse researchers) investigate how to make health care better for kids, families, communities. Sometimes they explore how to better support nurses. Whatever topic they tackle, they use evidence and best practices to transform outcomes. Get your plan. 


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Educator/FacultyAcademic educators and faculty members bring pediatric nursing practice to life in classrooms and clinical settings. They develop curricula and instruct, evaluate, and advise students to shape future careers. Their goal is to develop well-prepared nurses or advanced practice nurses who are ready to enter the workforce and make a positive impact on child health. Get your plan. 


ID: Blue lightbulb icon with a person in the middle, on a green background

Nurse Entrepreneur: A pediatric nurse entrepreneur is a creative self-starter who translates their clinical expertise into a successful business in the health care industry. They identify needs then create solutions. Developing apps or new medical products, writing, training, or launching a nurse-run health agency are just a few examples. Get your plan. 


ID: Blue, white, and gold lapel pin for Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist, on a green background

Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist: Primary care is often the first place where developmental, behavioral, or mental health conditions surface. Access to specialized care can have long wait times. The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) helps ensure that kids get validated help faster for conditions typically seen in primary care like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and more. Get your plan. 


ID: Blue group of people behind a leader, on a green background

Chief Nursing OfficerCNOs lead large teams to elevate care for entire communities. They are strategic thinkers with skills that guide human resource, financial, and technology decisions. This role may also be known as Chief Nurse Executive, Vice President of Patient Care, or similar titles. Get your plan.


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Preceptor: A preceptor has the experience, follow-through, and willingness to prepare nursing students for delivering high quality, safe care to patients. Pediatric nurse preceptors guide the journey of the next generation of RNs and advanced practice nurses to ensure success and resilience in their new careers. Get your plan. 


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Professional Association Leader: Nursing and interdisciplinary professional organizations, membership associations, and societies multiply the power of individual members to impact health care. Pediatric nurses volunteering to lead at the local, state, national, or international level are change agents who use their voice and expertise to influence policies and practice. Get your plan. 


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Shared Governance Council Member: Pediatric nurses at the bedside can impact entire hospital systems by participating in shared governance councils or committees. Shared decision making with nurse leaders empowers clinical nurses to influence improvements for staff and patients. This example of professional autonomy makes nursing stronger. Get your plan. 


Coming Soon! 

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School Nurse

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Clinical Nurse Specialist

ID: Blue icon of a person surrounded by a gear, a clock, and a clipboard on a green background

Nurse Manager

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Assistant Director

ID: Blue person holding a flag to represent leadership, on a green background

Unit Leader

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Quality Improvement / Safety Nurse

ID: Blue nurse cap on top of blue books, on a green background

Clinical Nurse Educator

ID: Blue head silhouette with a green plant growing to symbolize learning, on a green background

Professional Development Specialist

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Residency or Fellowship Coordinator

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Nurse Consultant

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Nurse Informaticist