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School Nurse Job Description


Current and aspiring registered nurses (RNs) who want to help children are likely to find that working as a school nurse aligns well with their career goals. Whereas most RNs work full time in hospitals, community care clinics, and group medical practices, school nurses work with children in educational settings, such as preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.


Students interested in pursuing this career should start by developing the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful. Completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, such as Maryville University’s RN to BSN online, can help prepare graduates to pursue nursing jobs in a variety of school settings.

What Does a School Nurse Do?

A school nurse’s job description can vary based on the institution they work for. For example, the duties of a nurse working in a preschool setting are likely to be different from those of a nurse working at a high school. However, common responsibilities may include:


  • Performing health, hearing, and vision screenings
  • Administering medications
  • Providing care to children who are feeling unwell
  • Determining when children might need additional care from a physician or specialist
  • Educating students about health procedures, such as hand washing and mask wearing
  • Consulting with parents, teachers, and school administrators about student care
  • Providing health counseling to students and their parents

Possible Work Environments for School Nurses

School nurses work in a wide range of academic environments, including public, private, and boarding schools. They may also work in summer camps, juvenile correction centers, and other alternative educational facilities.


Although most professionals in this field work full time, Monday through Friday, individuals who work at boarding schools may be required to work night, weekend, and on-call hours. Additionally, depending on the school’s learning schedule, nurses may have extended time off during holidays and seasonal breaks, including several months off during the summer.

Skills School Nurses Need to Be Successful

While industry-relevant hard skills are important, students interested in becoming school nurses may find that developing soft skills is also necessary for success. Examples include providing compassionate care to children, organization, attention to detail, and emotional stability.


  • Providing compassionate care to students: Students seeking medical care, whether it be for a stomachache, headache, or another issue, are often not feeling their best. Young children may not know how to express what they’re feeling, and teenage students may need help navigating emotional or physical changes. Some students may also visit a school nurse to seek refuge from bullying or other issues. Aspiring school nurses should be caring and empathetic to effectively address a variety of issues.
  • Organizational skills: School nurses work with numerous students each day. Refined organizational skills are necessary for nurses to keep up with their daily tasks and excel in their role.
  • Attention to detail: Nurses should keep detailed records of student visits, such as why each student sought medical care, information about their assessment, and the recommended course of care. RNs with strong attention to detail are likely to be most successful.
  • Emotional stability: Aspiring school RNs should understand how to remain calm and refrain from exhibiting strong emotional reactions when under pressure or interacting with distressed children. Individuals with a strong sense of emotional stability will be best equipped for this role.

School Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

Data from PayScale notes that as of 2021, the median annual salary for registered school nurses was approximately $67,000. Earners in the top 10th percentile reported annual salaries of more than $92,000 per year, and the lowest 10th percentile reported earning around $47,000.


Salary ranges vary based on a variety of factors, including:


  • The size of the school district
  • Whether the RN works for a public or private institution
  • The position’s geographical region
  • The RN’s experience level
  • Whether the RN has completed a graduate program, such as an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP)


Additionally, the career outlook for registered nurses, including school nurses, is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of RNs to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is about as fast as average, adding that it expects approximately 194,500 jobs to become available each year. The BLS further states that many of these openings will result from the need to replace nurses who are leaving the profession, either to retire or change careers.

How to Become a School Nurse

Aspiring school nurses should start by learning the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful. In addition to completing an education, students will also need to pass a national licensing exam.

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

The first step toward becoming a school nurse is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Students who have already completed an associate degree in nursing, however, may want to consider an online RN to BSN degree program. Most full-time students find they can earn their RN to BSN degree in two years or less.


Maryville University’s RN to BSN online program can help prepare RNs for success as school nurses and equip them with the tools to advance their careers. Through courses such as Nursing Care of Children, Pathophysiology for Nursing Practice, and Nursing Research, they can gain a well-rounded foundation to provide students of all ages with informed, empathetic care. With a more in-depth curriculum, an RN to BSN program can help open up job opportunities for RNs that may not be available with only an associate degree.

Step 2: Become a Licensed RN

Upon completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, students need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before they can apply for state licensure. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers this exam, and testing is available throughout the year at numerous locations throughout the U.S.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Most school nurse positions require applicants to have prior nursing experience. Although eligibility requirements vary by school, candidates will likely need to show they’ve been working for a minimum number of years in the profession to be considered for a school nurse position. Applicable experience includes working for several years as a registered nurse in a pediatric, family medicine, community, or public health setting.


Some states may have specific education, experience, or certification requirements for school nurses. Individuals may choose to pursue the optional nationally certified school nurse (NCSN) credential from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, which requires a bachelor’s degree, RN licensure, 1,000 clinical hours of experience, and passing the NCSN exam.

Become a School Nurse and Start Making a Difference Today

The first step toward becoming a school nurse is to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Maryville University’s RN to BSN online program is designed to prepare registered nurses with the in-demand clinical, research, and leadership skills they’ll need to pursue nursing jobs in a variety of academic settings.


With 100% online coursework, Maryville’s RN to BSN program offers students the opportunity to further their education with the flexibility to meet their needs and schedules. Discover how Maryville University can help prepare you for success in school nursing.


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