Critical Care Nurses



Critical care nurses are specialized nurses who provide highly skilled direct patient care to critically ill patients needing intense medical treatment. Critical care nurses work not only in intensive care units (ICU) and cardiac care units (CCU) of hospitals, but also in the emergency departments, postanesthesia recovery units, pediatric intensive care units, burn units, and neonatal intensive care units of medical facilities, as well as in other units that treat critically ill patients. 

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Associate's Degree



Several years experience as a registered nurse





Personality Traits

Hands On


Salary is determined by many factors, including certification and education, place of employment, shift worked, geographical location, and work experience. Critical care nurses earned median salaries of $67,090 in October 2019, according to Earnings ranged from $41,000 to $96,000 or more.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earned a median an...

Work Environment

Most critical care nurses work in hospitals in the intensive care unit (ICU), the emergency department, the operating room, or some other specialty unit. Hospital environments are typically clean and well lighted. Inner city hospitals may be in a less than desirable location and safety may be an issue. Generally, critical care nurses who wish to advance in their careers will find themselves wor...


Nursing specialties will be in great demand in the future. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the employment of all registered nurses will grow much faster than the average for all careers through 2028. According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, a growing number of hospitals are experiencing a shortage of critical care nurses. Many hospitals needing critical care nurses ...