How to Become an Infectious Disease Nurse

Updated on January 26, 2024

With the rise of new infectious diseases like COVID-19, the role of infectious disease nurses has become increasingly vital. Infectious disease nurses work directly with patients suffering from various infections, providing treatment, education, and emotional support. If you are interested in a nursing career that allows you to make a difference by helping patients fight serious illnesses, becoming an infectious disease nurse may be an excellent path for you.

The first step to pursue this specialty is to obtain the necessary nursing education and licensure. You’ll need to graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse. From there, you can gain experience in areas like medical-surgical nursing or critical care before specializing further through an infectious disease nurse certification program.

Understanding Holistic Nursing

Holistic nursing focuses on caring for the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. As an infectious disease nurse, it is important to understand this approach as many patients you see may be dealing with more than just physical symptoms. Getting to know your patients as whole individuals can help you provide more compassionate care. Some key principles of holistic nursing include:

Learning more about holistic nursing concepts can help infectious disease nurses provide truly patient-centered care while still effectively treating diseases.

Educational Requirements and Pathways

Holistic nursing focuses on caring for the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. As an infectious disease nurse, it is important to understand this approach as you treat patients. According to the American Holistic Nurses Association, holistic nursing aims to promote healing and wellness, assist patients in achieving peace and comfort, and support patient self-care and responsibility for health. Some key principles include treating patients with dignity and compassion, focusing on the relationship between nurse and patient, and considering all factors that affect a patient’s health – not just their physical symptoms.

Specialized Training and Certification requirements

To become an infectious disease nurse, you must first complete either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing and obtain your registered nurse (RN) license. From there, you need additional training and certification in infectious disease nursing:

With an RN license, specialized clinical training, and certification(s) in infection control or prevention, you will be qualified and prepared to work as an infectious disease nurse.

Licensing and Certification

To become a registered nurse and work in infectious disease, you must obtain the proper licensure and certification. First, you need to graduate from an accredited nursing program with either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). After graduating, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your nursing license. Additionally, while not always required, you may choose to become a Certified in Infection Control (CIC) through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. This certification shows your advanced knowledge in infection prevention and control. Furthermore, if you want to prescribe medication in certain states, you may need an additional certification as a nurse practitioner, which requires a Master’s of Science in Nursing.

Skills and Competencies

Infectious disease nurses need a unique blend of medical knowledge and interpersonal abilities. Key skills and competencies include:

Infectious disease nursing is challenging but rewarding for those with the motivation and skills to prevent infections and save patients’ well-being or lives.

Career Opportunities and Employment Settings

Infectious disease nurses have excellent career opportunities and prospects due to the growing need for skilled healthcare professionals. Some of the top employment settings and career paths for infectious disease nurses include:

With advanced certifications, infectious disease nurses can also progress into leadership roles to coordinate organizational infection prevention and response programs. Government projections show excellent job growth in the coming decade for all types of infection control nursing careers.

Salary Expectations

Infectious disease nurses can expect strong salary potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses as of 2020 was $75,330. However, salaries can vary significantly based on your specialization, years of experience, level of education, certifications held, and geographic region.

Infectious disease nurses tend to be on the higher end of the nursing pay scale due to the advanced skillset and specialized knowledge required. PayScale reports the average base salary for infectious disease nurses to be $83,297 per year. With additional cash compensation like overtime and bonuses, total pay can reach $88,765 annually.

Years of ExperienceAverage Base Salary
0-5 years$77,000
5-10 years$86,000
10-20 years$95,000

As shown in the table, pay tends to correlate with years on the job. Entry-level infectious disease nurses can expect to start around $77,000 per year. With 5-10 years under your belt, average earnings climb to $86,000 annually. And seasoned nurses with 10-20 years of experience can make upwards of $95,000 per year.

In addition to experience level, geographic location also impacts salary potential. The highest paying states for infectious disease nurses are New Jersey, New York, California, and Hawaii where average salaries can exceed $100,000.

Continued Professional Development

As an infectious disease nurse, it is crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field through continued professional development. Some ways to accomplish this include:

Making continuing education a priority allows infectious disease nurses to provide the highest quality evidence-based care to patients and support infection prevention efforts in their healthcare facilities.

Challenges and Rewards

Pursuing a career as an infectious disease nurse comes with unique challenges and rewards. Some of the main challenges include:

However, the career also provides meaningful rewards such as:

Those looking to enter this field should carefully weigh both the challenges and rewards to determine if it is the right fit for their goals and abilities.


Becoming an infectious disease nurse requires dedication, compassion, and specialized training, but it is a rewarding career path for those interested in this growing field. In summary, the main steps to pursue this career include:

With excellent patient care skills, attention to detail, and a passion for reducing healthcare-associated infections, a career in infectious disease nursing can be highly rewarding. The CDC projects strong job growth in this field to prevent and control infections in healthcare facilities.

What is an Infectious Disease Nurse?

An infectious disease nurse is a healthcare professional who specializes in preventing and treating a variety of infectious diseases. They work directly with patients, providing treatment, education, and emotional support.

What does an Infectious Disease Nurse do?

Infectious disease nurses provide direct patient care, administer medications, monitor patient recovery, and educate patients and their families on their conditions. They also implement infection control measures and collaborate with a healthcare team to manage patient care.

What education is required to become an Infectious Disease Nurse?

To become an infectious disease nurse, one must first complete either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing and obtain a registered nurse (RN) license. Additional training and certification, such as the Certification in Infection Control (CIC), are often required.

What are the key skills required for an Infectious Disease Nurse?

Key skills for an infectious disease nurse include medical expertise, especially in the area of infectious diseases, strong communication abilities, meticulous attention to detail, and a compassionate nature.

Where do Infectious Disease Nurses typically work?

Infectious disease nurses can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, public health departments, infection control departments, and research or academic institutions.

How much does an Infectious Disease Nurse make?

The salary for an infectious disease nurse can vary, but on average, they earn around $83,297 per year. This can change based on factors such as years of experience, certification, and geographic location.

Are there specialized certifications for Infectious Disease Nurses?

Yes, specialized certifications such as the Certification in Infection Control (CIC) from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology are available and often required to become an infectious disease nurse.

What is the job outlook for Infectious Disease Nurses?

The job outlook for infectious disease nurses is positive, with a growing demand for skilled healthcare professionals in this area due to the rise of new infectious diseases.

What is the role of an Infectious Disease Nurse in a pandemic?

During a pandemic, infectious disease nurses play a crucial role in treating patients with the disease, implementing infection control measures, and educating the public about prevention and safety.

What are some resources for more information about becoming an Infectious Disease Nurse?

Resources for more information include the CDC Guidelines Library, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) Clinical Practice Guidelines, and the Journal of Infection Prevention.

Additional Resources

For more information on becoming an infectious disease nurse, check out the following additional resources:

Additionally, contact local hospitals and health systems about possible infectious disease nurse residencies, mentoring programs, or shadowing opportunities to gain hands-on experience in this specialty.