How to Become an Infection Control Nurse:
The Definitive Guide

In this day and age, the world needs Infection Control Nurses to help with sanitizing and infection management.

There doesn’t have to be a global pandemic for an Infection Control Nurse to be important, these people are needed every day in the medical field to keep germs away.

If you are detail-oriented and have a knack for keeping things healthy and sanitized, then the role of an Infection Control Nurse might be just what you are looking for.

What is an Infection Control Nurse?

In order to keep hospital staff and patients safe, Infection Control Nurses are there to ensure all safety precautions are being made in a medical setting.

An Infection Control Nurse will help to identify and help prevent the spread of infectious bacteria and other agents that humans can come into contact with.

It’s important that these essential nurses are knowledgeable about how diseases and infections are spread, as well as ways to prevent people from getting sick.

As an Infection Control Nurse, you can expect to be on the front line of the medical industry.


Along with the typical nursing duties, an Infection Control Nurse has a unique job.

Some of the things that you can expect to do as an Infection Control Nurse are:

  • Recognize and isolate outbreaks of infectious diseases
  • Create action plans for prevention
  • Investigate possible outbreaks
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Serve on councils or as a mentor


An Infection Control Nurse can make a decent living, with an average salary of around $77,000 a year in the United States.

That’s after many years of experience, however, starting out, an Infection Control Nurse will likely make closer to $50,000 a year.

After becoming certified, having specializations, and with years of hands-on experience, an Infection Control Nurse can make upwards of $110,000 a year.

The range in salary also depends on the location of your work facility, as well as which types of infections are in your area.

Some facilities pay more than others as well, colleges and professional schools pay doctors more than typical hospitals or outpatient care centers.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $77,460


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$94,820
New Hampshire$73,880
New Jersey$84,280
New Mexico$73,300
New York$87,840
North Carolina$66,440
North Dakota$66,290
Rhode Island$82,310
South Carolina$64,840
South Dakota$59,540
West Virginia$63,220
Puerto Rico$35,040
Virgin Islands$68,500

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $113,240.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $113,240
Hawaii - $104,060
District of Columbia - $94,820
Massachusetts - $93,160
Oregon - $92,960
* Employment conditions in your area may vary. * Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.

How to Become an Infection Control Nurse

Step 1Earn a Degree

Even though the minimum requirement to work as an Infection Control Nurse is to earn an Associate’s degree in nursing, many employers will not hire a nurse without a Bachelor’s degree.

That is because, with a Bachelor’s degree, an employer can be ensured that the nurse is competent and able to do the tasks that need to be done.

A Bachelor’s degree in a nursing program can take around four years to complete and includes classroom work, lab time, and clinical’s to gain hands-on experience as a nurse.

Most courses in a nursing program center around math and science, but it is likely that you will need to take other courses like English and psychology as well.

Some of the classes that you can expect to take during a nursing program are:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Nursing Ethics
  • Nursing Statistics
  • Physiology
  • Sociology
  • Nursing Leadership

And many more.

After you earn a Bachelor’s degree, it’s time to become a licensed nurse.

Step 2Become Licensed

After you earn a degree, it’s time to take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become a Registered Nurse.

Every state in the United States requires a nurse to be registered, this is to make sure that the nurses are knowledgeable and have accredited education.

The NCLEX-RN exam is a competency-based test.

This means that your score is based on how much you know, so if you know more you will have to answerless questions.

The most questions to answer on the test is 200, the least is 75.

This exam is also passed or fail, you won’t get graded on how many you got right, and you won’t know which ones you missed.

It can cost around $150-$300 to take this exam.

Step 3Gain Experience

Passing the NCLEX-RN exam means that you can now work anywhere in the United States as a Registered Nurse.

Before you work as an Infection Control Nurse, you’ll need some experience around the medical field.

It’s important to gain experience in several different areas:

  • Hospitals
  • Long term care facilities
  • Ambulatory care
  • Hospice
  • Emergency room
  • Public Health
  • Emergency Preparedness

With about 2-4 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, it’s time to think about moving into the Infection Control area of the hospital.

Becoming a staff nurse in an Infection Control area can help you gain the hands-on experience needed, then you can take the exam to become certified.

Step 4Become Certified

Once at least two years of experience has been gained as a Registered Nurse, someone interested in Infection Control can earn the Certification in Infection Control from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.

You don’t have to become certified in order to work as an Infection Control Nurse, but it does show not only employers but clients, that you are knowledgeable in the field.

In order to take the exam to become certified, some requirements must be met:

  • Be an active Registered Nurse
  • A current career in the medical field
  • Primary responsibilities infection control

The exam is competency-based, just like the NCLEX-RN exam, and will contain questions on areas such as:

  • Planning, implementing, and evaluation of infection protection
  • Educating others about infection control
  • Experience in investigation and surveillance of outbreaks
  • Prevention and control strategies

This certification requires recertification after five years.


In order to work as an Infection Control Nurse, you must have experience as a Registered Nurse.

Most employers nowadays require a nurse to have a Bachelor’s degree in order to work.

On average, it takes around 4 years to earn a Bachelor’s degree for full-time students.

Many colleges and universities offer online and hybrid classes for people who are interested in studying from home.

However, it’s important that all lab work and clinical’s are done with hands-on experience, and through face to face meetings.

There are so many things that a Bachelors degree in nursing can cover, but some of the most popular courses are:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Microbiology
  • Developmental health
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Psychology

As well as classes like English and mathematics.

Once you gain a degree in nursing, you must acquire some experience in order to gain employment as an Infection Control Nurse.

After several years of working in different areas in a medical setting, some nurses want to branch out and discover their own specialty.

Those that are interested in becoming Infection Control Nurses can gain experience working in the Infection Control area of a hospital, or they can earn a Master’s degree or gain certification as an Infection Control Nurse.

A Masters degree program will allow a Registered Nurse to expand their education, typically courses in a Masters degree program include:

  • Biostatistics
  • History of Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health
  • Urban and Social Health Issues

On average, a Master’s degree can take another two years to complete.

There are Infection Control Nurses who gain enough experience working in Infection Control that they do not earn a degree, the experience in the field outweighs formal education in this field.

Most Master’s programs can also be done online, but most require at least two years of experience working as a Registered Nurse before eligibility is fulfilled.

Video About The Career

Certification and Licensing

All nurses that are interested in working in the United States must have a license in order to become a Registered Nurse.

This license can be obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN exam, which is given throughout the country at different times of the year.

Find out where you can take the exam through your local hospital or nursing board.

This is a competency-based exam, which means you will answer fewer questions the more that you get right.

If you pass the exam, you will become a Registered Nurse, if you do not pass you will need to retake the exam.

It’s possible to retake this exam at least three times a year.

The NCLEX-RN exam covers different topics, most of them pertaining to:

  • Physiological adaptation
  • Management of care
  • Safety and infection control
  • Parenting therapies
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychosocial integrity
  • Health promotion and maintenance

This exam costs anywhere from $300 to $450 to take, and every three years it must be renewed.

For those that are interested in becoming Infection Control Nurses, there are some options for certification.

These are not mandatory in most hospitals, however, a certification looks better to employers.

The main certification to become an Infection Control Nurse is the Certified Infection Control title.

This certification can be acquired by taking an exam as well.

In order to be eligible for this certification, a nurse must:

  • Be actively registered as a nurse in the United States
  • Have a degree in nursing
  • 2 years of experience as a Registered Nurse
  • Be actively employed in a medical setting

You must also pay the examination fee which can cost around $395 to enroll.

The CIC exam covers topics including:

  • Identification of infectious disease processes
  • Surveillance and epidemiology investigation
  • Preventing and controlling infection agents
  • Employee/occupational health
  • Management and communication

This exam consists of around 125 questions and can be taken online or in-person at places around the country.

The Certified Infection Control certificate must be renewed every three years.

Certification Example:

nursing ba example

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

The average training program in order to become an Infection Control Nurse is around two years.

This is because there isn’t a training program in the typical sense, instead this career is based on hands-on experience.

Those that work as Registered Nurses who want to get involved in this field should work in the Infection Control area of a hospital or other facility.

Many nurses that work in Infection Control advise at least two years of experience before becoming certified.

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Job Outlook

It seems that we will always need nurses in our lives, so it is clear why the career growth for Infection Control Nurses, as well as nursing across the board, is so high.

This field will grow around 12 percent in the next decade, which is much higher than many other careers in the medical field.

With new information on pandemics, this career will continue to increase.

Nursing has become much more in demand, especially with many facilities opening and at-home care becoming more popular.

Those that work in larger populations will likely find higher job opportunities than Infection Control Nurses who work in more rural areas.

* The numbers below reflect all registered nurses and are not limited to infection control nurses.

Employment Growth Projection: 12%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 371,500 jobs.

Should You Become an Infection Control Nurse?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Many nurses that work as Infection Control Nurses enjoy their job and say that they like working Monday through Friday, and on an average daily schedule of around 8 hours.

However, when times get tough and they must work overtime it can be overwhelming for some.

Those that work in this field think that it is enjoyable, but there can be difficulties with finding enough Infection Control Nurses to fill job opportunities.

The pay is also great, and the environment is less stressful than an average Registered Nursing job.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

On average, an Infection Control Nurse can make around $77,000 a year in the United States.

If you are just starting out in this career, it is likely that you will make closer to $50,000 a year.

However, after many years of experience, certifications, and other specializations, it’s possible to make more than $100,000 as an Infection Control Nurse.

Those that work in larger facilities will likely make more money than someone working in a smaller area.

Also, the population of the area in which you work can play a role in the yearly salary as well.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

All across the nursing profession, there will be a rise in job opportunities.

This is due to the use of technology and advancements in medicine.

Other factors that could weigh into the growth of this career is the growing elderly population and the many nurses who are going to retire within the next decade.

As of now, the career of Infection Control Nurses looks to rise around 12 percent within the next ten years.

There will always be a need for nurses, and with more attention going into pandemics and relief, there is an even bigger need for Infection Control Nurses.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

A typical nursing program can take around 2-4 years to complete, depending on the type of program.

There are many online programs that may be accelerated and last around 18 months.

Earning an Associate’s degree in nursing can take around two years to finish, however many employers require at least a Bachelor’s degree in order to work as a nurse.

Bachelor’s degrees take roughly four years to earn but provide on the job experience that you will need in order to be a great Infection Control Nurse.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Infection control is a very meticulous job, and an Infection Control Nurse needs to be on the ball at all times.

Some of the characteristics of a great Infection Control Nurse are:

  • Incredible attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Knowledge of the medical field
  • Nursing abilities
  • Teaching skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Willing to put self at risk
  • Math skills
  • Personable
  • Teamwork skills
  • Multitasking skills
  • Leadership abilities

It takes a strong person to work as an Infection Control Nurse, there is no doubt about that.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary for an Infection Control Nurse?

Typically around the United States, an Infection Control Nurse makes $77,000 or more a year.

When just starting on the journey to becoming an Infection Control Nurse, it’s possible to make around $50,000 to begin.

Then, after several years of experience, it’s time to make the big bucks.

Most highly paid Infection Control Nurses to make more than $110,000 a year, on average.

Q. How long does it take to become an Infection Control Nurse?

Even though nursing school can take four years to finish, it can take a bit longer to come to an Infection Control Nurse.

After gaining education and employment, someone interested in working in Infection Control should gain about two years of experience as a Registered Nurse first.

Then, it’s possible to work your way into the Infection Control area of the hospital.

This means that it can take around 6 years or more to work as an Infection Control Nurse.

Q. What does an Infection Control Nurse do?

An Infection Control Nurse is an integral part of the hospital system.

These are the brave men and women who work with outbreaks of infectious diseases to try and cease the spread, as well as discover ways to prevent and monitor the disease.

Nurses in this fieldwork a little differently than a typical Registered Nurse, because they work in labs and test diseases and other bacteria.

With the rise in technology and advancements in medicine, more Infection Control Nurses are expected to work with computers as well.

Q. What is the demand for Infection Control Nurses?

There will likely always be a need for Infection Control Nurses.

Especially recently, as the world deals with a pandemic and the infection rates rise, more Infection Control Nurses are needed than ever before.

Every day, there is a growing need for Infection Control Nurses, this could be due to retirements as well as the requiring of more staff on hand in hospitals and other facilities.

Whether or not we like it, the need for Infection Control is on the rise, and these are nurses that can always help.

Q. How much does it cost to become an Infection Control Nurse?

The price of your education can vary depending on where you go to school.

Some private colleges cost more than $50,000 to attend for four years.

While some public universities can cost around $35,000 to earn a degree.

Depending on where you gain your education, you can spend around $35,000 to $50,000 or more to become an Infection Control Nurse.

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