Neonatal Nurse Salary Guide | 2023

The average neonatal nurse salary is $135,949 annually or $65 per hour according to ZipRecruiter.  In comparison, reports the average annual salary as $75,352 or $36.15 per hour.

ZipRecruiter found that the majority of neonatal nurses earned between $124,000 and $140,499. However, salaries ranged from as low as $26,000 to as high as $205,500.

There is a large range in average salary for neonatal nurses across the county. The large range suggests that many different skill levels and other factors such as experience level and workplace location can determine the overall pay structure.

Neonatal nurses appear to earn a higher income than the average registered nurse salary in the US. The BLS states that the average nurse salary in 2021 was $77,600 or $37.31 per hour. While neonatal nurses earn an average income of $135,949 per year or $65 per hour per ZipRecruiter.

When talking about salary, the title “neonatal” nurse and “neonatal intensive care unit” (NICU) nurse are often used interchangeably. However, they are not always the exact same thing. NICU nurse commonly refers to nurses who work with babies who are dangerously ill. Neonatal nurses, on the other hand, can work in a NICU, clinic setting,  neonatal transplant teams, or in-home health services.

Neonatal nurses most commonly work in a NICU in a hospital or clinic setting. However, neonatal nurses can also work on neonatal transplant teams or for in-home health services.

State Annual Salary Hourly Wage
New York $155,090 $74.56
California $153,029 $73.57
Vermont $139,858 $67.24
Maine $138,946 $66.80
Massachusetts $137,844 $66.27
Nevada $137,580 $66.14
New Jersey $136,090 $65.43
Wisconsin $135,799 $65.29
Washington $135,470 $65.13
Oregon $134,173 $64.51
Hawaii $132,554 $63.73
Idaho $132,522 $63.71
Wyoming $132,282 $63.60
Minnesota $131,581 $63.26
Indiana $130,935 $62.95
Arizona $130,893 $62.93
Alaska $130,124 $62.56
New Hampshire $129,819 $62.41
Pennsylvania $129,734 $62.37
Georgia $128,670 $61.86
Iowa $126,886 $61.00
Rhode Island $126,733 $60.93
South Dakota $126,551 $60.84
North Dakota $126,457 $60.80
Connecticut $125,757 $60.46
Montana $125,576 $60.37
New Mexico $122,969 $59.12
Illinois $122,401 $58.85
Ohio $122,386 $58.84
Virginia $120,336 $57.85
Maryland $120,175 $57.78
Tennessee $119,790 $57.59
Utah $119,722 $57.56
Delaware $118,413 $56.93
Colorado $117,907 $56.69
Mississippi $116,932 $56.22
Oklahoma $114,328 $54.97
South Carolina $113,811 $54.72
Michigan $112,809 $54.24
Kansas $112,413 $54.04
Texas $112,248 $53.97
Missouri $112,135 $53.91
West Virginia $111,785 $53.74
Alabama $110,615 $53.18
Florida $110,498 $53.12
Louisiana $109,711 $52.75
Nebraska $109,041 $52.42
Kentucky $104,611 $50.29
North Carolina $103,915 $49.96
Arkansas $102,909 $49.48
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Source ZipRecruiter

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Neonatal nurses generally start with a lower salary and earn more as they gain more experience in the profession. reports that the pay by experience levels for neonatal nurses in the US are:

  • Less than one year of experience: $36.68 per hour
  • 1-4 years of experience: $33.38 per hour
  • 5-9 years of experience: $35.43 per hour
  • 10-19 years of experience: $35.74 per hour
  • More than 20 years of experience: $41 per hour

>> Find RN-to-BSN Programs Accepting Applications Now

Neonatal nurses typically work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Medical centers

Neonatal nurses in hospitals often work on a postpartum, labor and delivery, or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

While hospitals are the most common workplace, neonatal nurses can also work in,

Neonatal nurses usually earn the most by working in hospitals. Additional pay that neonatal nurses often receive includes:

  • Benefits
  • Overtime pay
  • Health care and dental insurance
  • Shift differential pay for working nights or weekends
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Reimbursement for certification exams

Neonatal nurse salary is primarily determined by the state, the cost of living in the area, and the number of years of experience you have in the field. Nurses who work in larger metropolitan areas usually earn higher wages than those who work in rural areas.

Consider one of the following tips to boost your salary as a neonatal nurse:

Your level of education plays a massive role in your earning potential as a neonatal RN. Many nurses start their careers with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Fortunately, there are also many attainable options to continue nursing education while working part-time or full-time as a neonatal nurse including a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.)

Many employers offer an increase in hourly wage if a neonatal nurse becomes board certified by obtaining the following certifications:

These certifications test specialty knowledge in neonatal intensive nursing care. Nurses must have at least two years of specialty experience providing care to acutely or critically sick neonatal patients and their families within a critical care environment.

Some hospitals will even pay for the certification exam once you pass. Others may offer certification review courses or discounts.

Becoming certified can equate to more money in several ways:

  • Increased per-hour salary
  • Career enhancement opportunities
  • Employers are more likely to hire neonatal nurses who are certified

>> Show Me Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Another way to earn more money as a neonatal RN is to negotiate a higher salary. Some employers have a pay structure for new employees. But there may be some room for negotiation, especially if the place you want to work is struggling to find neonatal nurses.

See also  Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Salary Guide

Neonatal travel nurses are RNs who take anywhere from 4 to 16-week assignments at hospitals or other healthcare facilities that have a shortage of nurses.

Travel nurses usually earn a “total pay package” instead of a base hourly rate which usually includes:

  • Hourly base pay
  • Sign-on bonus
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • Travel reimbursements
  • Housing, food, and mileage stipend
  • Other job-related expenses

Career Nurse

Career nurses are full-time or part-time nursing staff employed by a hospital or medical facility. In most cases, career nurses earn an hourly wage plus a benefits package that includes a retirement plan, paid time off, health and dental insurance, education reimbursement, and other benefits.

Career nurses start their careers earning entry-level pay but then make a higher per-hour rate for each year they work in the profession.

Per Diem

As opposed to career nurses who receive an hourly rate and a benefits package, per diem nurses are only paid an hourly rate for the shifts they work. However, most per diem nurses make a higher hourly rate.

Per diem nurses also do not receive sick days or other paid time off. But because they don’t have a set schedule they make a higher per-hour rate for their work flexibility.

One of the main benefits of working per diem as a neonatal nurse includes picking your schedule. This often works well for working parents who only work when they have child care or for nurses who also work at another hospital.


A contract nurse is a full-time nurse who works at a hospital on a contract basis for as little as four weeks to as long as six months. Once their contract expires, nurses can sign another contract at the same hospital or sign a contract at another hospital.

One of the cost benefits of working as a neonatal contract nurse is guaranteed full-time hours during the contract. This means that even if your shift is canceled for some reason, you still earn your regular hourly wage for the shift.

Travel nurses are a type of contract nurse. But some hospitals offer opportunities to work as a contract nurse without moving to another location.


Nurses who work overtime are entitled to increased pay for their additional work hours. In most cases, this means:

  • Working over 40 hours in a week, or
  • Working longer than a scheduled 12-hour shift (within 24 hours)

Overtime wages differ per facility, but they are usually one and a half to three times the normal hourly wage. Working a lot of overtime hours can add up quickly. However, too much overtime can lead to burnout for some nurses, so it is important to make sure you don’t work too much.

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Shift Differential

A shift differential is extra pay for working weekends, holidays, evenings, or night shifts. Shift differentials usually increase a normal hourly wage by a few additional dollars.

That might not sound like much, but that can add up over time. Many neonatal nurses enjoy working on nights or weekends because the administration is off, and it can seem much quieter on the unit.


Bonuses are commonly offered as an incentive for nurses to take a new position at a facility, especially when they need to hire a large number of nurses. Bonuses can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand.

However, it is important to read the fine print and understand the bonus terms before accepting. Many hospitals will require that you stay working full-time at their facility for two to five years to keep the bonus. Leaving earlier may require that you pay it back.

Hazard Pay

Hazard pay is additional compensation above the normal compensation for healthcare professionals who work in potentially hazardous conditions.

>> Click to Compare RN-to-BSN Programs

Nursing school to become a neonatal nurse is expensive. It is important to research your options to make the best choice that works for you.

ADN programs can range anywhere from $6000 to $20,000. This type of program takes a minimum of two years to complete at a community college or technician school.

A BSN can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000. This type of program takes four years to complete at a public or private four-year university.

Nursing school tuition can also depend on several other factors:

  • The school’s reputation and status
  • The program length (some schools offer expedited programs)
  • The state and city where you live

There are also additional costs associated with nursing school including;

>> Show Me Online RN-to-BSN Programs

ZipRecruiter reports the average annual salary for pediatric nurses is $134,328. However, salaries ranged from as low as $48,500 to as high as $227,500.

Ziprecruiter reports that the mean annual wage for NICU nurses is $101,727 or $49 per hour. However, they add that NICU nurses’ annual salaries range from $83,000 to as high as $125,000.

ZipRecruiter also states that neonatal nurse practitioners in the US earn a mean annual salary of $136,592 or $66 per hour. They add that annual salaries can range from $25,000 to as high as $207,500 depending on the type of facility, the level of experience, and the cost of living in the area.

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