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Clinical Nurse Educator Career Guide

How Do You Become a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Nursing is an essential profession. Therefore, it’s critically important that nurses are properly and continuously educated, not only in the classroom but also in the field. This is precisely the role of a clinical nurse educator: to provide important teaching for nurses at all levels, to ensure they have the knowledge they need to positively impact patients, clients, and medical center residents.

Sometimes referred to as a “nursing professional development specialist,” a clinical nurse educator focuses the majority of their attention on active nurse training. They play a large role not only in individual nurse training, but also in ensuring that nursing personnel operate cohesively — as a single unit — to provide optimal care and improve patient quality of life.

Anyone with a particular passion for healthcare and an aptitude and patience for education will find the career of a clinical nurse educator to be fulfilling and rewarding.

Nurses in training learn about setting an IV.

What Is a Clinical Nurse Educator?

A clinical nurse educator makes the education of all nurses their top priority. They will work with new and experienced nurses alike, to ensure that all nursing staff are appropriately educated in all necessary practical and procedural elements that define their daily tasks.

Clinical nurse educators are often also responsible for implementing their own educational programs or teaching seminars, where they can impart necessary understanding to nursing staff without overly interrupting their daily schedules. They will both develop and implement training curriculums that contribute to well-informed nursing staff members.

What Does a Clinical Nurse Educator Do?

The role of a clinical nurse educator mainly requires authority over the complete nursing education process. This can mean that they are responsible for a wide variety of tasks daily. In particular, the responsibilities of a clinical nurse educator include:

  • Leading nurses through hands-on training that strengthens their understanding of their role in the healthcare field.
  • Developing educational curriculums that provide nurses with relevant information they can immediately apply to their projects.
  • Running educational seminars that provide comprehensive nursing education when wider training is necessary.
  • Researching methods for improved nursing education in a clinical setting.
  • Implementing strategies that ensure nurses are complying with new policies and standards.
  • Monitoring new and experienced nurses as they work to actively implement new strategies.
  • Educating staff members on optimal task performance where their duties might intersect with the responsibilities of a nurse.

These and other responsibilities often define the regular duties of a clinical nurse educator, an individual who maintains a focus on best preparing nurses for circumstances they are likely to face in their respective clinical settings.

How Do I Become a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Individuals interested in becoming a clinical nurse educator must first meet the necessary educational requirements. In particular, this means becoming a nurse and earning a bachelor’s degree. You will likely need experience as a nurse in order to be able to adequately teach nursing, so spending time working in the field is key. 

The career path to a nursing educator position also requires a master’s degree, available through an expedited RN-to-MSN program or a BSN to MSN in nursing education. These programs will focus on the educational aspects of nursing and give you insights into proper instruction, curriculum, and more. 

Best Degrees for Clinical Nurse Educators

Nursing – Education (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This MSN – Education online nursing program for RNs includes a...

This MSN – Education online nursing program for...

This MSN – Education online nursing program for RNs includes a BSN program component and is a substantial leap forward for an aspiring nurse educator.

  • Time: 74% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,385 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Sample careers and jobs this online nursing degree will prepare you for:

  • Nurse Educator
    Nursing Faculty
    Program Director
    Academic Clinical Nurse Educator

Given the growing nurse educator shortage, earning your MSN with a focus in education is both a rewarding decision and a solid career move.

Nursing – Education (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

A master's in nursing education program for nurses with BSNs....

A master's in nursing education program for...

A master's in nursing education program for nurses with BSNs.

This degree will prepare you to teach the next generation of nurses.

  • Time: 80% of grads finish within 2 years.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,385 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Nurse Educator
    Nursing Faculty
    Program Director
    Academic Clinical Nurse Educator

Hospitals and other facilities need nurse educators. Earn your MSN – Education and step into a role inspiring and empowering caregivers.

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What Skills Does a Clinical Nurse Educator Need?

Clinical nurse educators must possess an in-depth understanding of both nursing operations and best educational practices. As a result, they typically operate with a well-defined skillset, which allows them to make a difference in the lives of patients and nurses.

  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond effectively with all nursing staff to convey concepts to be learned and adopted.
  • Healthcare expertise: The ability to fulfill all of the roles of a nurse, independent from your ability to teach them.
  • Engaged teaching: The ability to provide dynamic education to nurses that enhances their ability to fulfill their own positions.
  • Educational research: The ability to research and implement improved teaching techniques, to improve a nurse’s ability to retain information once taught.
  • Leadership: The ability to serve as a leader in educating nursing staff members, and as an exemplar when demonstrating exactly how newly learned concepts are to be performed.
  • Student evaluation: The ability to assess how well nursing staff members are learning information as it is taught.
  • Public speaking: The ability to effectively deliver a public address to a group of nurses looking to improve their own skill sets.

These and other skills form the basis for a successful clinical nurse educator, an individual who can both teach and implement nursing best practices to improve patient outlook and quality of life.

How Much Do Clinical Nurse Educators Make?


The exact salary of a clinical nurse educator depends on a wide variety of factors, including employer, employer location, years of experience, education, maintained accreditations, and their nature of hire.

In general, the salary of a clinical nurse educator averages $77,170 per year. This means that the top 10% of earners receive as much as $104,000 per year, whereas the lowest 10% of earners take home roughly $58,000 per year.


What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The career outlook for a clinical nurse educator is positive in the years to come. As an industry, the field of healthcare is expected to add the most jobs of any market by 2024. In addition, nursing occupations are expected to rise 7% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate faster than the average expansion forecasted across all occupations.

Though the exact rise in clinical nurse educator positions will depend on sustained demand across active healthcare communities, there is a continued need for hands-on nursing education within a hospital, clinical, and other medical settings.

As populations continue to age and require help to address chronic health issues, the need for expert nursing education — to inform best treatment methods, therapy techniques, and other procedures — is only expected to grow in parallel.

Where Do Clinical Nurse Educators Work?


Most often, clinical nurse educators work alongside all other nursing staff members in a medical setting. Commonly employed by hospitals, nursing clinics, outpatient centers, rehabilitation facilities, and any other medical environment requiring specialized care, clinical nurse educators provide onsite education to other employed nurses.

Clinical nurse educators must also provide nurses with an understanding of their facility’s technical resources — including computers, handheld monitors, therapy devices, and a variety of other tools. This means that they must maintain proximity to both the onsite nurses and the instruments themselves.

Interested in Becoming a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

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