Plastic surgery nursing is one of the most desirable and in-demand nursing practices available. These nursing professionals assist with both invasive and non-invasive plastic surgery procedures, such as a Botox injection, tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and facial reconstructions. They are expected to assist with all stages of the surgical process, including the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative phases. Some, however, may solely work as scrub nurses, operating room nurses, or postoperative nurses.
Plastic surgery nurses work directly with physicians, surgeons, and other medical staff in a hospital, plastic surgery center, or outpatient medical facility. They handle a wide range of duties, including:
Becoming a plastic surgery nurse requires a high level of education and experience. As with most nursing positions, plastic surgery nurses should have excellent written and oral communication skills, organizational and time management abilities, and exceptional attention to detail.
If you’re considering a career as a plastic surgery nurse, also referred to as an aesthetic nurse, this guide is for you. It will explain more about how to become a plastic surgery nurse and how much you can expect to earn.
Unlike some nursing professions, plastic surgery nurses must typically gain some on-the-job experience before seeking a position in this field. It’s recommended to start by obtaining a job in a hospital setting or working with adults, unless you’re planning to specialize in pediatric plastic surgery.
Once an RN has gained enough experience, she can start applying for positions within the plastic surgery field. An RN must have a minimum of two years of plastic surgery nursing experience, including 1,000 practice hours, before becoming eligible to take the Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) certification exam. After completing two years of experience in a plastic surgery setting, an RN can work towards earning their certification.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide specific salary data for plastic surgery nurses, it does report that the average annual salary for RNs is $75,330. Other statistics reveal that the average annual salary for plastic surgery nurses ranges anywhere from $52,500 to $92,500, with salaries averaging as high as $114,500 and as low as $25,000 for some of these professionals.
There are several major factors contributing to this huge discrepancy in average salaries, including:
While it’s not impossible for a nurse with an associate degree in nursing to obtain a job as an aesthetic nurse, most employers prefer nurses with a minimum of a bachelor degree. Therefore, nurses with the lower graduate degree (associate degree) are likely to earn less than their co-workers with a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, nurses who have proceeded to earn their master degree in nursing will earn even a higher salary in most cases.
Experience also plays a major role in wages for plastic surgery nurses. Nurses cannot earn their certification as a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) until they have accrued at least two years of on-the-job experience. Naturally, those with the most experience will not only have the opportunity to earn their CPSN certification, but they are also more likely to earn a higher salary than those just beginning their career in plastic surgery nursing.
As mentioned above certified plastic surgical nurses are likely to earn a higher salary than those without this certification. However, this is not the only professional credentialing to affect plastic surgery nursing salaries. In fact, there are several certifications and licensures that can greatly affect salaries among plastic surgical nurses. Here’s a look at several other types of nurses that can work in the plastic surgery field (nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and family nurse practitioner) along with the average annual salary for each position.
As you can see, these added credentials can greatly increase average salaries.
Not all cosmetic surgery nurses select a specialty, but those that do often earn more money than more generalized nurses. While there are numerous specialties in the plastic surgery field, here’s a look a some of the most common.
Location also affects nursing salaries. For example, a plastic surgery nurse working in a major city is likely to earn a higher salary than those working a more rural area. However, nurses must factor in the cost of living for a specific area when comparing wages.
For example, a nurse working in New York City may make more money than a nurse working in a smaller town. However, expenses, such as housing, transportation, and food will also be higher in the city. See below for more information about how location affects plastic surgery nursing salaries.
The current demand for plastic surgery nurses in any specific area will also greatly affect salaries. Many states, such as Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina are experiencing a nursing shortage. To help entice qualified nurses to move to these states, they often offer higher salaries than some other states, such as Florida, that is currently experiencing an overflow of nurse. It’s important to understand that demand in any given area when applying for jobs. See below for more information about how demand affect nursing salaries.
As stated above, annual salaries for plastic surgery nurses ranges anywhere from $52,500 to $92,500, but the median annual salary is $74,090. A major contributor to this massive difference in pay is location. In fact, plastic surgery nursing salaries vary greatly from state to state.
As you can see, some of the highest paying states include New York ($85,713), Wyoming ($80,101), Montana ($75,475), Arizona ($74,702), and Hawaii ($74,639). On the other hand, some of the lowest paying states include Florida ($51,750), North Carolina ($55,796), and Pennsylvania ($58,131).
There are many reasons why salaries vary so much from state-to-date, but the primary cause is cost of living. States, such as New York and Hawaii are known to have some of the highest of living rates in the country. So, it comes as no surprise that theses states offer higher than average salaries. Other states, such as Mississippi and Oklahoma have a significantly lower cost of living and can therefore offer lower salaries to their nursing staff.
Another reason for varying salaries is that certification requirements vary from state to state. Some states have higher education and experience requirements than other states, which makes employers more willing to pay higher salaries.
In addition to certification, each state determine exactly what type of medical services plastic surgery nurses can perform and which services they cannot. In states, where nurses can handle more on-the-job duties, employers may be willing to pay higher salaries because it eases their staffing demands. However, in states where plastic surgery nurses, or at least nurse without proper certification, are limited in the type of care they can provide. Since, this factor may require more supervisory support, nursing salaries in these states may be lower.
Another vital driver of salaries is demand of services. This demand often correlated with state laws and regulations pertaining to plastic surgeries. States that have more restrictive regulations tend to have a lower demand for services, while states that allow more types of services with less restriction typically serve more patients and therefore need more plastic surgery nurses.
The cities that perform the most cosmetic surgeries a year include:
Due to the high demand for plastic surgery in theses cities, states, such as California, New York, and Virginia tend to offer higher than average salaries. The one exception to this is Florida, which is likely due to the large overflow of nurses in the state.
Salaries don’t only vary by state, but they also vary from location-to-location within a state. In most case, employers located closer to major cities tend to pay higher salaries than those living in smaller, rural areas. In fact, the cities that pay the highest plastic surgery nursing salaries are all located in major metropolitan areas, such as:
Cosmetic and plastic surgery is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 2020, alone 15.6 million invasive and minimally invasive plastic surgery procedures were conducted. These rates reflect only a slight decrease from 2019, despite the global pandemic.
Of these surgeries, the most popular procedures were:
The reality is that the demand for plastic surgery is not expected to decrease any time soon. In fact, the combination of improve treatment and technology along with more affordable options is creating an increased demand for these services. Along with this demand comes an increased need for qualified aesthetic nurse professionals. Additionally, specialized nurses, such as pediatric nurses and dermatology nurses are in even higher demand.
The hiring process for nurses can run anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.
The first step to finding a job as a plastic surgery nurse is to apply for a job. You can use several resources to find open positions in your area or any other area. Start by checking online job markets to see what types of jobs are available.
You can also check with any professional nursing association, such as the American Nursing Association (ANA) to find jobs available across the country. Finally, you can work with a recruiter the specializes in health care to be connected to jobs that best match your specific qualifications and experience.
Now it’s time to submit your resume and cover letter. Be sure to include all of your relevant training, including related coursework and experience working with adults or within the plastic surgery field. You can also include any relevant internship experience you completed.
Take the time to carefully read the job description and qualification to ensure you qualify for the job. As you read through the job description, jot down any type of skills and experience the employers is looking for and be sure to include as many of these as possible on your resume.
Once you submit your resume, the employer will screen all eligible applicants and select several candidates to come in for an interview. If you make it past this process, there is a good chance you will be hired for the position if you do well during the interview process.
Each employer conducts different types of interviews. You may only meet with the main doctor in charge or an entire panel of interviewers. Either way, it’s important to be prepared. Practice answering some of the most commonly asked interview questions, such as “name your strengths and weaknesses,” “why are you looking for a career in the plastic surgery field?” or “where do you see yourself professionally in five year?” Being prepared can go a long way in helping you stay calm and acing the interview.
Additionally, be sure to take all required credential with you to the interview, including your RN licensing documents, education transcript, and contact information for professional references.
After the initial interview, the employer will narrow down the search to just two or three candidates. Now, you may be called in for a final interview. This is your chance to shine and show the employer why you would be the best candidate for the job. Be sure to highlight all your skills and experience that are relevant to the position.
If you are considering a career as a plastic surgery nurse, there are several steps you must take in order to earn your certification.
The first step to a career as a plastic surgery nurse is to obtain an undergraduate degree. There are two main educational tracks to choose from, including:
An associated degree program typically takes two years to complete and is offered by many community colleges, trade schools, and nursing colleges. Students take a combination of general education classes, such as English composition or philosophy, as well as nursing-specific courses, including anatomy and biology. While some classes may be available online, nursing students are often expected to complete in-person lab work.
Some students choose this career path in order to save money on tuition costs, but it’s important to note that many employers today are only recruiting nurses with a bachelor degree or higher. If you choose this pathway, it’s likely that you will need to earn your RN licensure and the enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to improve your job opportunities in the plastic surgery field.
Most nursing students begin their career by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. At this stage in your educational track, you don’t have to choose a specialty in plastic surgery. However, if your program requires the completion of an internship program, you may want to look for internship opportunities within the cosmetic surgery or another surgical field to gain much needed experience.
A bachelor program typically takes four years of full-time studies to complete. Nursing students often have full schedules that include a combination of general education classes, science-bases course, and lab work. It can be difficult to complete a nursing program and maintain a full-time job at the same time. Be sure to take this into consideration when enrolling in a bachelor degree program.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who are interested in working as a plastic surgery nurse must first earn their RN licensure. There are several LPN-to-RN programs available that can help you gain the educational requirements you need to sit for the RN licensing exam.
Once you have earned you undergraduate degree program or LPN-to-RN program, you are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Each state has it’s own set of additional requirements, so it’s important to check with the NCSBN or your state’s board for additional eligibility requirements.
Once you pass this test, you can apply for you RN (Registered Nurse) license. This is a requirement for plastic surgery nursing. In fact, you will find that it’s nearly impossible to find a job within this field without becoming an RN first.
Most plastic surgery employers, including hospitals and private practices, don’t hire RNs until they have at least 2 to 3 years of nursing experience. Unless you plan to specialize in pediatric plastic surgery, start by finding a job that requires you to work primarily with adults.
This initial on-the-job-training can provide you with valuable skills, including patient intake, monitoring vital signs, and providing patient education. It will also help you better understand how a medical team works together, because this will be crucial in a plastic surgery setting.
Be sure to track all the vital skills you learn through this on-the-job experience, so you can add it to your resume when you are ready to start searching for cosmetic surgery-specific jobs.
As you gain your first few years of work experience in the nursing field, this is also a good time to obtain some specialized training in the cosmetic surgery field. A great place to find these types of trainings is through a professional organization. Consider joining the American Nursing Association (ANA) or checking with the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses (ISPAN) to seek what type of training options or seminars are available. Alternatively, you can take some additional college classes pertaining to burn care, post-surgical care, or liposuctions.
You can also use this time to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. While this advanced degree is not required for plastic surgery nurses, it can greatly improve your job opportunities and salary potential. An MSN degree takes an average of 2 to 3 years to complete. You can expect to take high-level science and nursing courses. Be sure to take courses focusing on surgical procedures, including cosmetic procedures and aesthetic procedures.
Once you have a few years of nursing experience, you should start applying for nursing positions within the plastic surgery field. Although, you have several years of nursing experience at this point, you will need to start with an entry-level plastic surgery nurse job. This is because you must gain experience in the plastic surgery field before you can gain your certification. More advance positions are often reserved for those nurses who have more experience or have earned their plastic nurse certification.
Once you have worked in the cosmetic surgery field for at least two years, you can work towards gaining your Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) certification. You must gain this experience within the three years prior to taking your CPSN exam. Additionally, you must have accrued at least 1,000 practice hours in the plastic surgery field.
It’s important to obtain this experience hours under the direct supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeons. Note that not all states require doctors to be board certified in order to provide some types of cosmetic surgery treatments. Always check to make sure any plastic surgeos you’re considering working under is board certified. Otherwise, you will have to work an additional two years to become eligible for certification.
Once you meet all eligibility requirements, you can sit for the CPSN exam administered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board of the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses. Once you pass this exam and earn your certification, you can advance your career by applying for higher-level positions within the plastic surgery field.
If you want to advance your career even further, you can consider earning additional certifications, such as:
To become a certified CANS nurse, you must have two years of plastic surgery nursing experience, of which at least 1,000 hours is under the direct supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon. You must also pass the CANS certification exam.
To become an aesthetic nurse practitioner, you must first complete a master and doctorate degree program. Several organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) offer this certification. Requirement vary, but most required on-the-job experience and passage of the certification exam.