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Nurse Educator Career

How to Become a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are responsible for teaching and instructing nurses at colleges and universities. They have advanced nursing degrees and understand the workload, policies, and requirements of nursing. Nurse educators influence healthcare by training future nurses who will play vital roles in healthcare facilities.

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What is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators begin their careers as registered nurses (RNs). After receiving an advanced nursing degree, these individuals choose to teach new nurses valuable skills by becoming nurse educators. 

Nurse educators are valuable members of the healthcare committee. They have extensive and comprehensive knowledge of how the healthcare system functions. They also understand the needs of patients and are aware of theories of teaching and learning. 

Individuals who choose to become nurse educators likely have a passion for both nursing and healthcare. They believe that they can make a difference in the future of nursing by passing on their skills and knowledge to new nurses entering the field.

What Does a Nurse Educator Do?

Nurse educators take on important roles within an education facility or hospital. They teach and inform prospective nurses how they can excel in healthcare situations. They act as mentors and teachers, providing realistic expectations for new nurses. 

Some of the most common responsibilities of a nurse educator include: 

  • Teaching clinical skills and patient care
  • Instructing hospital research
  • Guiding students through clinical rotations 
  • Designing and evaluating program curriculum 
  • Researching related topics 
  • Maintaining clinical skills and certifications 
  • Demonstrating communication and collaboration 
  • Following legal and ethical teaching practices 

Nurse educators may also educate registered nurses working in hospitals who have already received their certification. Additionally, they may teach patients, school children, consumers, and communities about health and wellness.

What Education Does a Nurse Educator Need?

Nurse educators need to have all of the certifications of a registered nurse, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In addition, they will need two to five years of clinical experience, as well as an understanding of the administrative and organizational considerations that influence caregiving, along with an advanced nursing degree. 

An RN to MSN bridge program, or a BSN to MSN degree program with an emphasis on nursing education are both options that help prepare current RNs to lead in their field and equip new nurses with essential skills and training.

What Certifications Does a Nurse Educator Need?

Nurse educators will also need to pass several exams to receive the proper certifications. The required certifications include: 

  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN): This exam is for registered nurses. After completing the exam, the graduate can apply for RN licensure. Nurse educators are required to be RNs. 
  • NAHQ (National Association for Healthcare Quality) HQ Principles: This exam helps you demonstrate your knowledge and skills in healthcare principles that are vital for nurses to have.

Nurse educators will benefit from taking education courses that focus on teaching skills. A large majority of a nurse educator’s time is spent teaching, meaning that they must have adept teaching skills. 

Best Degrees for a Nurse Educator

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 Nurse Educator Need?

Nurse educators are highly skilled individuals. Although their skills vary depending on their field, most nurse educators will benefit from having the following skills: 

  • Leadership: Nurse educators need to be comfortable in a leadership role to lead classes of young nurses. 
  • Professionalism: Nurse educators represent nurses around the globe. They need to act professionally to ensure that the correct image is sustained. 
  • Knowledge and expertise: They must meet education and training requirements to teach future nurses how to treat patients effectively. 
  • Core competencies: The National League for Nursing has established core competencies that all academic nurse educators should have. 
  • Creative: Nurse educators lead diverse teams of students and need to be creative enough to adapt to meet their needs. 

In addition to the skills above, nurse educators should also be willing and ready to advance their education. They should be actively pursuing new opportunities to expand their knowledge of healthcare and nursing.

How Much Does a Nurse Educator Make?


According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for nurse educators is $84,060. Location, area of expertise, and years of experience can change the average salary of a nurse educator. For example, a nurse educator working in general medicine and surgical hospitals will earn an average annual salary of $199,050. In comparison, a nurse educator working in a junior college will earn an average wage of $75,190 per year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The BLS reports that nursing jobs are expected to increase by 7% by 2029, adding more than 221,900 jobs in the United States. The steady increase in demand for nurses also fuels the need for nurse educators. The BLS predicts that there will be a 2.3% increase in job positions for nurse educators.

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?


Nurse educators are needed across the country in a variety of settings. Some of the most important facilities that require nurse educators include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, community colleges, technical schools, and community agencies. Nurse educators work in a variety of different locations and settings. Their skills are valued in health fields. 

Interested in Becoming a Nurse Educator?

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

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