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How Much Do Nurse Administrators Make?

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated March 6, 2023
Nurse administrators play a vital role in healthcare organizations. The salary potential is influenced by several modifiable factors.
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Nurse administrators work in hospitals managing a department or clinical specialty. Their experience and skills provide strategic leadership to the nursing staff. Nurse administrators may develop policies and procedures and set goals for the hospital unit.

Instead of juggling multiple patient care tasks, nurse administrators supervise the healthcare team and make high-level decisions that affect the nursing staff. Although the position is not directly involved in patient care, every decision affects the patients’ experience and outcomes.

As the demand for inpatient and outpatient care grows, the job outlook for nurse administrators continues to look positive. Nurses who are seeking a leadership role, with regular business hours, and an office-based position, may be interested in a nursing administrative role.

Average Salary for Nurse Administrators

Some entry-level nurse administrators hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), but many employers prefer a master of science in nursing (MSN), as the role holds considerable responsibility for patient outcomes and facility financial health.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data available for nurse administrators. However, they report the annual average salary for medical and health services managers at $101,340, compared to $77,600 for registered nurses (RNs). The BLS also projects a 32% job growth from 2020-2030 for medical health and services managers, much faster than the national average for all jobs.

Several factors influence a nurse administrator’s salary. These include geographical location, education, certification, and practice setting.

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, June 2022

Average Hourly Wage
Source:Payscale, June 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Nurse Administrators

An important factor in determining a nurse administrator’s salary range is geographical location. Since the BLS does not offer data specifically for nurse administrators, we have included state salaries for medical and health services managers.

It is important to note that the listed states with the highest salaries often include a greater cost of living. This means rent, food, energy, and transportation cost more in these states.

Highest-Paying States
StateAcerage Salary
New York$155,430
District of Columbia$151,370
New Jersey$136,580

Source:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Nurse Administrator

Payscale data from June 2022 shows the average annual nurse administrator salary at $85,000 for those with 5-9 years of experience. Nurse administrators with more than nine years of experience could make up to $99,000.

Other ways to increase pay as a nurse administrator include:

  1. 1

    Earn Your Certification in Nurse Management or Executive Leadership

    Certification validates your skill and demonstrates your commitment to the field. It advances the industry, improves the healthcare facility, and raises the facility’s credibility. There are five potential options for certification as a nurse manager, administrator, or leader.

    The American Nurse Credentialing Center offers three board certifications: Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC), Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification (NEA-BC), and Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC). The American Organization for Nursing Leadership offers two certifications: Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) or Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP).

  2. 2

    Earn a Dual MSN/MHA Degree

    Employers prefer MSN-prepared nurses to fill nurse administrator roles. However, nurses who choose to pursue a dual MSN/MHA (master of health administration) may find greater employment opportunities and salary potential. Online dual MSN/MHA degree programs offer the student a flexible schedule and the ability to spend less time and money than it would take to pursue the degrees separately.

  3. 3

    Become a Travel Nurse Administrator

    Travel nurse administrators fill leadership positions as organizations seek the right candidate to fill the job. If you are willing to travel and work for at least 13 weeks away from home, you could significantly increase your income.

  4. 4

    Change Practice Setting

    Earning potential for a nurse administrator varies by practice setting. According to the BLS, industries with the highest level of employment and those with the greatest earning potential for medical and health services managers are listed in order of least to greatest:

    • Home health services
    • Nursing care facilities
    • Outpatient care centers
    • Physician’s offices
    • General medical/surgical hospitals

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Administrator Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat is the salary range for nurse administrators?

BLS salary ranges for medical and health service managers are rather large. Nurses in the lowest range report an annual salary of $60,780, while those in the highest range report an annual salary of $205,620. Salaries are influenced by geographical location, education, certification, and experience.

question-mark-circleWhat are the highest-paying cities for nurse administrators?

The highest-paying metropolitan areas for medical and health service managers are New York-Newark-New Jersey, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston-Cambridge, and Washington-Arlington. It is important to note that these same areas also have a higher cost of living.

question-mark-circleAre nurse administrators in demand?

Employment for medical and health service managers is expected to grow much faster than the average job market. The BLS projects an expected job growth rate of 32% from 2020-2030. Positions are expected to open as baby boomers retire and others transfer to different positions or occupations.

question-mark-circleWhat skills are important for nurse administrators?

Nurse administrators handle executive-level tasks and implement evidence-based practices to improve patient outcomes. This requires leadership, communication, and organizational skills. Nurse administrators need business management and decision-making skills. They act as mentors, have strong strategic thinking skills, and must be highly adaptable.

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