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Nursing Educator Careers and Salary Outlook 2020

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Some nurses look to influence and educate an incoming generation of professionals in the field. Before entering the nurse educator profession, each aspiring educator should do their proper research about the role. Our guide provides information for nurse educators, including their responsibilities, work settings, relevant skills, career outlook, and requirements for education and licensing.

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What is a Nursing Educator?

Focused on teaching nursing students at colleges and universities, nursing educators are registered nurses (RNs) who go on to pursue advanced nursing degrees after earning their RN licenses. These educators dedicate their careers to training and teaching future nurses. Many nurse educators work in clinical settings, in addition to their classroom environment. Some of these educators teach in higher education in colleges and universities, while others pursue opportunities that allow them to remain in clinical settings.

  • What Do Nursing Educators Do?

    Nurse educators work within the academic system and hospital training settings to assist in developing new nurses. This education allows aspiring nurses to retake the national council licensure examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) or other certification examinations with confidence.

    Nurse educators are responsible for many different duties and responsibilities, whether they work in healthcare or a traditional educational industry. These educators design and develop curricula, along with advising, evaluating, and teaching students. Nurse educators evaluate and revise their educational programs and individual classes as needed and promote discussion among their students.

    These educators focus on overseeing their students’ clinical work and contributing to the academic community through leadership responsibilities. They also speak at nursing conferences and participate in scholarly work, including research and peer review.

  • Where Do Nursing Educators Work?

    Nurse educators focus their careers in areas that offer nursing classes. These nurses most frequently work in academic contexts but also find employment in healthcare settings to provide professional development for staff members and clinical supervisors.

    Many nurse educators work in academic settings, including community colleges, technical schools, universities, and trade or vocational schools. These educators can find job opportunities across the U.S. in various industries, working to ensure students receive quality healthcare education in the nursing discipline.

  • Skills That Could Affect Nursing Educator Salaries

    Nurse educators should hold a solid framework of evaluation, teaching, and learning along with the ability to develop and design programs to reflect solid educational principles of nursing practice. Professionals should boast strong communication skills to communicate with other team members and patients. Nurse educators should be strong leaders, willing to go above and beyond to get their job done effectively.

    Nurse educators should possess the ability to translate their knowledge in a way that makes sense to nursing students, understanding their unique learning styles and needs to convey ideas in the most appropriate way possible. Nurse educators should be comfortable with instruction and answering student questions.

How to Become a Nursing Educator

The first step in becoming a nursing educator involves earning a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Once they earn their BSN, they can pursue RN licenses. From there, professionals can gain experience as RNs and enroll in master’s programs. While some learners might stop at their master’s degree, many choose to enroll in doctoral programs afterward.

After earning an advanced degree, each professional can enroll in a certification program to earn the credentials they need to pursue specialized, advanced roles in nursing education.


Professionals interested in pursuing careers as nurse educators need to earn BSNs and complete the RN licensing program by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Next, each aspiring nurse educator can enroll in an advanced degree, pursuing a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).

Nursing students enjoy the opportunity to explore many online program options for advanced study, enabling them to continue working as they earn their degrees. Bachelor’s programs typically take students four years to complete with full-time enrollment, adding another two years for a master’s program and four or more years on top of that for a doctoral option.

Training and Certification

Nurses interested in becoming certified in the nurse educator field can explore opportunities to set them apart from other candidates. The National League of Nursing features a certification exam that candidates must complete and pass to become a certified nurse educator (CNE).

Eligible candidates for the CNE certification must hold an active, current RN license, along with MSNs or DNPs. Additionally, each aspiring CNE should hold a post-master’s certificate in nursing education or a minimum of nine credit hours of graduate-level education courses.

Completing the certification program allows professionals to demonstrate their competencies to potential employers. Many employers prefer to hire nurse educators who complete certification programs, and some even require the certification.

Nursing Educator Salaries and Job Growth

Location and experience level can significantly affect nursing educator salaries. According to PayScale, the national median salary for the occupation sits at $74,848. Entry-level nursing educators receive an average annual salary of $71,344, while those practicing late in their career enjoy an average salary of $81,228. Nurse education is a specialty discipline of registered nursing, with many professionals beginning their careers with RN experience.

RNs receive the highest salary opportunities and employment levels in California, while South Dakota features the highest concentration of jobs for the occupation. These nurses experience the highest salary opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry and the highest employment levels in the general and medical-surgical hospital industry.

Median Salary for Nursing Educators by Career Experience

  • Entry Level: $71,344
  • Early Career: $69,711
  • Mid Career: $72,078
  • Experienced: $78,212
  • Late Career: $81,228

Source: PayScale

Related Job Salaries
Registered Nurse Certified Nurse Assistant Registered Nurse, Operating Room Registered Nurse, Emergency Room Registered Nurse, Critical Care
$63,393 $27,891 $70,559 $66,391 $72,656

Source: PayScale

Nursing Educator Resources

  • Association of Community Health Nursing Educators Dedicated to providing common ground for professionals committed to excellence in community and public health nursing practice, education, and research, ACHNE advances nursing education, service, and research. The organization functions as a leader in community and public health nursing education.
  • American Association of Diabetes Educators AADE is an interdisciplinary professional membership organization dedicated to improving diabetes, prediabetes, and cardiometabolic care through management, support, and education. This association features a diverse network of practitioners who help patients with diabetes. The organization provides the highest level of health and quality of life in the diabetes community.
  • Nurse Practitioner Association for Continuing Education As a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing continuing education opportunities to advanced practice clinicians and nurse practitioners (NPs), NPACE was founded in 1980 by a group of NPs in New England. NPACE functions as an approved provider for continuing education by the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses.
  • National Organization of Practical Nursing Education and Service The oldest association advocating for the education, regulation, and practice of vocational and practical nurses, the National Organization of Practical Nursing Education and Service provides the legislation needed for licensure and education of practical nursing across the United States. The organization sets practice guidelines and standards for continuing education.
  • National League for Nursing Operating as a national organization for faculty leaders and nurses in nurse education, the National League for Nursing provides networking opportunities, faculty development, nursing research grants, testing services, and public policy initiatives to over 40,000 individual members. The organization cultivates a diverse nursing workforce to advance healthcare in the United States.
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