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Infection Control Nurse – Degree Requirements and Career Information

Higher Education Articles October 20, 2013

In the field of infection control nursing, nurses work to prevent infections among patients in clinics and hospitals. The education requirements, average salary and job outlook information for infection control nurses can be found below.

Overview

Nurses who enjoy working one-on-one with patients of varying ages, performing laboratory tests and contributing to a patient’s treatment plan may enjoy a career as an infection control nurse. The main goal of an infection control nurse is to prevent and treat infections by administering medications, monitoring patients and improving sanitation procedures within the hospital or clinic. Infection control nurses may also be called infection prevention nurses. Managerial or research roles are available for infection control nurses who wish to advance.

Candidates hoping to become infection control nurses should be organized, have strong leadership abilities, and enjoy performing research. Individuals interested in this career should also be procedure-oriented and should be skilled in creating action plans for sanitation or the treatment of an infection.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Infection control nurses spend a lot of time working with patients one-on-one. They may also work in the lab to analyze bacteria from a patient’s tissue samples, or work in managerial roles. Infection control nurses working in managerial roles typically instruct other nurses with regard to proper sanitation procedures. An infection control nurse typically works during the day, but some infection control nurses may be on call for emergency situations or work at night to monitor critical patients.

While working, infection control nurses perform a variety of functions. They may take samples from patients with suspected infections, work to prevent infections on patients who have wounds or surgical incisions, identify an infection based on tissue samples and symptoms, talk to nurses about hand-washing and other sanitation measures, or contact the Center for Disease Control when certain bacteria or viruses are suspected.

Requirements and Education

To work as an infection control nurse, you must first spend some time working as a registered nurse. To begin a career in registered nursing, you must obtain an associate’s in nursing, Bachelor’s in nursing or nursing diploma, and you must obtain a passing score on the National Council Licensure Exam. While working in the field as a registered nurse, you should try to spend as much time as possible as a staff nurse in an infection control department. To become a certified infection control nurse, you must pass the Infection Control Certification Exam. You must renew your certification every five years.

Salary and Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish salary and job outlook data specific to infection control nurses. However, the BLS indicates that registered nurses earn an average salary of $64,690 per year. Because infection control nurses are more specialized than other registered nurses, their average salary is likely to be equal to or higher than $64,690. The BLS indicates that the job outlook for all registered nurses is positive, with more than 710,000 new positions expected by 2020.

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