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Critical Care Nurse

A Critical Care or ICU Nurse takes care of patients who are in a critical condition or recovering from a serious medical condition.
Required education
Annual average salary
Higher salary
Earn more by having advanced skills and responsibilities.
Work on your own or even start your own practice, in some states.
Work hands-on, directly with patients.
Follow a routine that allows you to anticipate and prepare for every situation.
Take on different tasks, patients, and situations every day.
You’ll need to be able to assess patients and make decisions quickly in life or death situations.
Nursing bag, medication, and signs cartoon graphic
What you’ll do


You’ll assess and make decisions about a patient’s condition.


You’ll explain medical procedures and treatments, and give updates to your patients’ loved ones.


You’ll monitor the critical condition of patients, which includes operating life support systems.

Where you’ll work
  • Critical care units
  • Flight units
  • Intensive care units
How to become a Critical Care Nurse


Pass the NCLEX-RN.


Work as a Registered Nurse, gaining at least two years’ experience in Critical Care.


Get your Clinical Nurse Leadership Certification from the Commission on Nurse Certifications.


You’re ready to work as a Critical Care Nurse.

Join an Organization
Become a member of a Critical Care Nurse organization to find career opportunities, learn from your colleagues, and support the profession.
Close-up of patient laying in hospital bed with a hospital gown on with medical personnel in background
Nurses Leading Innovation
When a patient is in critical care, nurses are there through every step of their care, from performing assessments and administering therapies, to educating patient families and opening new pathways to improving patient care.
A Gerontological Nurse Practitioner’s role is also higher salary.
A Travel Nurse is another type of emergency nurse.
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