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Emergency Room (ER) Nurse Career Guide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 130 million Americans visited an emergency room in 2018. Following an emergency department visit, 16.2 million people were admitted to hospitals, with another 2.3 million being sent to critical care units. These patients are triaged, treated, and stabilized by emergency room nurses.


Emergency room nurses, often known as ER nurses, trauma nurses, or critical care nurses, are certified registered nurses who work in the emergency department (ER) of a hospital. Patients are stabilized before being transferred to the operation room, intensive care unit, or medical-surgical unit, and medically stable patients are discharged by ER nurses. Patients that visit an emergency room might be of any age or background, and they visit for a number of causes, including trauma, injury, or sudden onset symptoms.

Tasks and Responsibilities

ER nurses collaborate with other medical professionals to provide high-quality, prompt care to patients with life-threatening medical illnesses, stabilize patients who require advanced medical treatments, and discharge stable patients. They are skilled at working swiftly during patient examinations and are at ease using new technology to monitor and treat patients.

After the check-in procedure, ER nurses must triage patients to determine if they require immediate care or are stable and can wait while other "sicker" patients are handled. Stated on the list below are the ER Nurse Duties & Responsibilities

  • Vaccinations, blood products, and medicines are administered.

  • Assisting with trauma, cardiac arrests, strokes, sexual assaults, and conscious sedations.

  • Wound cleaning and dressing

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, rescue breathing, or bag-valve-mask ventilation are all examples of CPR.

  • Medically stable individuals are discharged.

  • Patients, families, and caregivers are educated about their condition and treatment options.

  • Tracheostomies and intubations are performed.

  • Intravenous line placement

  • Responding to medical emergencies around the hospital

  • Putting together shattered bones

  • Trauma patients' stabilization

  • Critical injuries, allergic reactions, and trauma are all treated.

  • Patients are triaged when they arrive at the emergency room.


According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical pay for a registered nurse in 2019 is $73,300 per year or $35.24 per hour, although conditions in your region may differ. The BLS does not distinguish between various nursing specializations, however provides an average yearly pay of $68,796 per year or $31.85 per hour.

Emergency Room Nurses, in particular, can earn a greater yearly pay as their expertise grows. Below is the list of average salary per hour of ER Nurses depending on their experience.

  • $26.79 - less than 1 year of experience

  • $28.99 - 1-4 years of experience

  • $32.63 - 5-9 years of experience

  • $36.10 - 10-19 years of experience

  • $39.00 - 20 years and higher years of experience

Highest Paying States for ER Nurses

  • Los Angeles, California - $47.98/hr

  • New York, New York - $44.04/hr

  • Houston, Texas - $37.52/hr

  • Phoenix, Arizona - $35.76/hr

Work Locations

Emergency room nurses often work in hospital emergency rooms, although they can also operate in a number of other settings. Among them are:

  • Academia

  • Ambulance transport team

  • Burn center

  • Disaster Response and/or Emergency Preparedness

  • Emergency response team

  • Flight transport team

  • Government agency

  • Medical clinic

  • Poison control center

  • Prison

  • Trauma center

  • Triage center

  • Urgent care center

How to Become an Emergency Room Nurse

Step 1: Earn a Degree in Nursing

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Step 3: Obtain Experience at the Bedside

Although it is feasible to work as an ER nurse right out of nursing school, certain emergency rooms will demand two to three years of prior bedside nursing experience. This might take place in a medical-surgical or intensive care unit.

Step 4: Acquire Certifications

Advanced certification is not required, however it is strongly recommended. Eligible nurses can earn the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) designation from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Despite the fact that it is not mandatory, most nurses see certification as a chance to progress their careers.

CEN Eligibility Certification

  • Current, unrestricted US, US territories, or Canadian RN licensure

  • Recommended:

    • Two years of experience in the emergency room

CEN Examination Details

  • Examination fee: $370

  • Computerized examination for 3 hours

  • 175 items (150 scored and 25 unscored pretest items)

  • Obtain at least 106 correct answers to pass the test


  • Cardiovascular Emergencies

  • Respiratory Emergencies

  • Neurological Emergencies

  • Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology, and Obstetrical Emergencies

  • Psychosocial and Medical Emergencies

  • Maxillofacial, Ocular, Orthopedic, and Wound Emergencies

  • Environment and Toxicology Emergencies, and Communicable Diseases

  • Professional Issues


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States had 3,096,700 Registered Nurses in 2019. There will be a demand for 221,900 extra nurses by 2029, representing a 7% increase. Because of the aging population and the increased number of uninsured individuals and families in the United States, there are many work opportunities for emergency department nurses. Emergency room visits, on the other hand, have peaks and valleys. Depending on the area, some will experience times of high demand followed by periods of low demand.

Continuing Education

In most cases, an individual must fill out an application, complete a certain amount of CEU hours, and pay a small cost in order to renew their RN license. Each state has its own standards, so verify with your state's nursing board before filing for a license renewal.

The CEU requirement will be for the state of permanent residence if the RN license is part of a compact nursing license. CEUs in child abuse, opioids, and/or pain treatment are required in several jurisdictions.

Within the four-year recertification cycle, CEN recertification requires 100 contact hours of nursing continuing education. These hours of continuing education can also be utilized to renew a nurse's license.

Other Resources

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