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Infection Control Nurse Career GuideDiscover the vital role of an Infection Control Nurse (ICN), including key responsibilities, necessary education, and their impact on healthcare safety. Infection Control Nurses are essential in developing and implementing infection prevention strategies, providing guidance during health crises. This role is ideal for those who excel in quick decision-making and innovative problem-solving, offering a rewarding and dynamic career path.

Getting Started: Infection Control Nurse FAQs

What is an Infection Control Nurse?

An Infection Control Nurse (ICN), also known as an Infection Prevention Nurse, helps prevent and identify the spread of infectious agents like bacteria and viruses in a healthcare environment. ICNs are meticulous and detail-oriented individuals who can effectively communicate best practices to their colleagues to ensure the safety of patients in an institution’s care. Their knowledge of the risks of various infectious agents is crucial when dealing with both contained infections and broader outbreaks. These nurses are natural-born problem solvers and innovators, and are always at the forefront of modern healthcare solutions.

What does an Infection Control Nurse do?

An Infection Control Nurse (ICN) is responsible for preventing and managing healthcare-associated infections within healthcare settings. They develop and implement infection control protocols, monitor compliance with hygiene practices, and educate healthcare staff and patients on infection prevention measures. These nurses play a crucial role in safeguarding patient safety and preventing the spread of infectious diseases in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and responding to outbreaks and potential threats.

Click here to learn more about the key duties of an Infection Control Nurse.

What’s the demand for Infection Control Nurses?

In the wake of global health crises like the Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks, the demand for Infection Control Nurses (ICN) has surged. These professionals are pivotal in managing and containing infectious diseases, a need that has become increasingly apparent. While large-scale pandemics are rare, the everyday role of ICNs in maintaining safety and sanitation in healthcare facilities is always critical. Employment trends in healthcare indicate a growing need for these specialists, with hospitals and other medical institutions actively seeking ICNs to bolster their infection prevention and control programs. This trend indicates a robust job market for ICNs, highlighting their indispensable role in both crisis situations and routine healthcare operations.

How much does an Infection Control Nurse make?

According to, the average salary in 2023 of an infection control nurse was $79K, with a pay range of $50K-100K. Of course, this range is dependent on years of experience, the kind of employer you work for, and the state and city you work in. While not required, prospective ICNs also have the opportunity to pursue a Master's of Public Health (MPH), which would increase your financial worth in the eyes of future employers.

Remember, the more informed and engaged you are, the more valuable you are in any healthcare situation. Your skill at communicating best practices and potential risks, and your ability to come up with effective plans of action during infection-based emergencies, will make you essential to whatever institution you’re working in.

How do you become an Infection Control Nurse?

  • Here are the key stages of achieving your career as an ICN.

  • Get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
    Depending on if you choose to earn your ADN or BSN, your core academic journey to becoming an Infection Control Nurse can take two to four years. If you decide to pursue your education further by earning your Master's in Public Health (MPH), this will add two to five years, based on the intensity of your program.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN and work as a Registered Nurse
    To become an ICN, you must have at least one year of experience as a Registered Nurse. That’s before you apply for an MPH program, if that’s the path you choose to take.
  • Work as a staff nurse in Infection Control
    This is the time to observe and learn from ICNs to see how to best execute the many demands of the job. Be attentive and engaged, and use the knowledge you gain to inform future decisions.
  • Pass your Infection Control Certification Exam from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology
    Passing this exam shows future employers that you’ve mastered core competencies, and know best practices surrounding Infection control and preventive care. This is a field with rapidly changing information, so it’s important to make it clear that you’re informed on all aspects of modern methods of care.
  • You’re ready to work as a ICN!
    Now you’re about to join the ranks of some of the most innovative and forward thinking individuals within the medical field. With this career in nursing, you’ll be a constant and valued resource to your colleagues, patients, and communities.

Where can an Infection Control Nurse work?

Infection control nurses play a critical role in preventing and managing infections in various healthcare and community settings, working to protect patients, healthcare workers, and the general public. Their work involves developing and implementing infection control policies, educating staff, conducting surveillance, and responding to outbreaks and potential threats. Some of the places where you might find infection control nurses include:
  • Hospitals: Hospitals have a high risk of infection transmission, making infection control nurses crucial in implementing and enforcing infection prevention protocols.
  • Long-term care facilities: Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other long-term care facilities often employ infection control nurses to protect vulnerable populations.
  • Outpatient clinics: Infection control nurses in outpatient settings help prevent the spread of infections among patients who visit for medical treatments and procedures.
  • Ambulatory surgery centers: These facilities require strict infection control measures to maintain a safe environment for surgical procedures.
  • Home healthcare agencies: Infection control nurses in home healthcare ensure that proper hygiene and infection prevention practices are followed when providing care in patients' homes.
  • Public health departments: Infection control nurses in public health work on community-level efforts to prevent and control infectious diseases, such as outbreaks and vaccinations.
  • Research institutions: Some infection control nurses may work in research to study and develop new strategies for infection prevention and control.
  • Occupational health settings: Infection control nurses in occupational health focus on preventing workplace-related infections and ensuring the health and safety of employees.
  • Correctional facilities: Infection control nurses in prisons and jails are responsible for preventing the spread of infections within incarcerated populations.
  • Schools and educational institutions: Infection control nurses may work in schools to promote health and implement measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among students and staff.
Quite often, if people are having difficulties or admissions, they will call us for ideas on medical countermeasures or on clinical management.
Colleen Kraft, Infection Control Physician
  • 3 Key Attributes of a Career in Infection Control Nursing

  • Research-oriented
    It’s your job to be as informed as possible on how an infection might spread, the danger it poses, and what kind of treatments are best for containing and eliminating immediate and future threats.
  • Structured
    Organization is essential to ensuring proper sanitary and safety practices. When an infection poses a threat, the best way to protect your patients, colleagues, the public and yourself is to create and follow a strict, structured treatment protocol.
  • Varied
    Each of your patients will have their own unique risks based on their age and health background. It’s your job to take this all into account and communicate with doctors, and decide on the best plan for everyone.
What's the average salary of an Infection Control Nurse?
According to, the average salary of an Infection Control Nurse in 2023 was $79K, with a pay range of $50K-100K.
First aid kit, medication bottles, and road signs cartoon graphic

Key Duties of an Infection Control Nurse

The role of an Infection Control Nurse can vary depending on where you’re working, but the overarching responsibility is infection prevention and management. It’s your job to stay informed, be proactive and communicate effectively with your patients and colleagues.


As an ICN, you’ll analyze infection data, facts and trends, and share your findings with other healthcare professionals. This can mean reading academic articles, connecting with colleagues who may have relevant findings, and staying up to date on any announcements via the CDC. Information is your friend! Make time to stay as up to date on new practices and findings as possible, so you can be prepared for anything.


You’ll educate your colleagues and patients on how to control and prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. In this role, you’ll create and share sanitation plans to be implemented at your healthcare facility, and any other relevant community locations. If an infectious disease poses a threat outside the walls of these facilities, you’ll work with your community leaders to educate the broader public on how to ensure their health and safety.


As one of the most informed professionals on this topic, it’s also your responsibility to teach and reinforce infection control practices to fellow and future ICNs, and other medical professionals. In this capacity, you’ll act as a liaison between practicing medical officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is where clear and effective communication skills are of the utmost importance, as you can profoundly influence how doctors address a potential infectious threat.


As an ICN, you’ll also work with scientists and doctors to study and identify the bacteria of infectious diseases and find new ways to treat or eliminate these illnesses. This research relies heavily on your ability to understand the composition and origins of potentially infectious pathogens, and can be the key to creating new practices that can better protect present and future patients.


As relied-upon problem solvers, Infection Control Nurses are usually among the most impactful innovators. Whether it’s coming up with new handwashing practices or working with scientists to design new protective gear, ICNs are constantly creating new and safer ways to practice medicine and protect their patients.

Paying for Nursing School
Learn more about how to fund your education with nursing scholarships.
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Getting Hired as an Infection Control Nurse
Visit our Getting Hired page for tips on your resume, preparing for your interview, and more.
Mom and daughter take a trip to the doctor's office for an appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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