How to Become a School Nurse

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
School nurse examines student patient

School nurses play a vital role in a child’s life. For some students, school nurses are their primary healthcare providers and parental figures. These nurses identify and address health issues affecting a student’s learning potential, thus greatly impacting their adult lives.

The path towards how to become a school nurse, the educational requirements, what makes certified school nurses unique in comparison to regular school nurses, and necessary skills are described below.

What Is a School Nurse and What Does a School Nurse Do?

A school nurse is a registered nurse who works in a school or other educational environment. They optimize their patients’ learning potential by addressing the health needs of a student population. School nurses are the liaison between students, parents, and faculty regarding health issues.

Examples of tasks school nurses are responsible for include:

  • Manage students’ chronic illnesses
  • Provide first aid
  • Conduct height/weight/hearing/vision screenings
  • Educate parents and faculty about pertinent information when necessary
  • Ensure students have had routine medical and dental checkups
  • Help arrange access routine medical and dental exams by school affiliated physicians if parents are unable
  • Ensure student charts are up to date
  • Ensure vaccines are up to date
  • Address public health crises affecting students

Educational Requirements for School Nurses

Attaining adequate education is one of the first steps on the path of how to become a school nurse. School nurses need to have their BSN to work in this specialty. Some schools may allow LPNs and nurses with their ADNs to work if there’s no other candidate available, but a BSN is required to be a certified school nurse.

School Nurse Certification

Certified school nurses are the liaisons between the school and the state. Balancing the unique aspects of becoming certified in this specialty, and whether this decision is beneficial to you, can make a significant impact when figuring out how to become a school nurse.

Certified school nurses perform more administrative duties than school nurses who are solely in charge of first aid. They must be familiar with school policy and education laws and are involved in creating individualized care plans for students when necessary.

You can become a certified school nurse after attaining the required credits and passing the examination unique to this specialty. Becoming certified could result in a pay raise, but it also comes with more responsibilities.

How Long Does It Take to Become a School Nurse?

It takes four to six years to become a school nurse, depending on the route you choose for nursing school. Schools may prefer nurses with prior nursing experience because student needs can be unpredictable.

Where Can a School Nurse Work?

When considering how to become a school nurse, it’s important to decide whether these work environments are a good fit for you. Examples of school nurse work environments include:

  • Summer camps
  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Charter schools
  • Vocational schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Military bases
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Daycares

School Nurse Skills

Although there’s overlap between the skills listed below and qualities necessary for other nursing specialties, school nursing requires them to be used in a unique way:

  • Patience: School nurses work with children who may lack knowledge about their bodies, as well as with adults who do not have a healthcare background. Sometimes school nurses must teach young children about activities of daily living, such as basic hygiene.
  • Quick thinking: Nurses’ offices are similar to walk-in clinics. These nurses never know what kinds of issues they’ll have to address — and with little notice — and have limited resources in comparison to facilities dedicated to healthcare.
  • Clear communication: These nurses must be able to explain health information to children and adults who are not trained in the health sciences and know how to translate this information in a way that considers how the student’s education might be affected.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a School Nurse

Like other specialties, school nursing has its own unique benefits and disadvantages that are necessary to consider when learning about how to become a school nurse:


  • Consistent schedule with holidays off and summer vacation
  • Lasting relationships with students and families
  • Mixture of sitting and standing instead of being on your feet all day


  • Reputed to have a lower salary than many other nursing specialties
  • Can be monotonous

School Nurse Salary

The median salary for school nurses is $54,400 per year. The number varies based on the facility and state, as well as your experience and certifications. This doesn’t include extra income nurses may attain on holidays and during summer vacations.

Is School Nursing Right for You?

Now that the path towards how to become a school nurse is clearer, you can make an informed decision on whether this specialty is a good fit for you. In the meantime, you can apply to IntelyCare today to join the future of nursing.