Nurse educators combine clinical expertise with a passion for teaching. With the growing demand for nurses, nursing schools nationwide are struggling to find qualified faculty. Nurse educators have a unique opportunity to shape the next generation of nurses. Most report that the most rewarding aspect of their work is their interaction with students. They also enjoy flexible schedules and constant intellectual stimulation, including opportunities to work with the latest cutting-edge research.
Nurse Educator Career Overview
Nurse educators may teach at the undergraduate level preparing licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) for entry into practice positions. They may also teach master's and doctoral level programs, helping educate advanced practice nurses, nurse educators, nurse administrators, nurse researchers and future nursing leaders.
Because their skills are in high demand, nurse educators enjoy tremendous job security. They often maintain dual roles as educators and direct patient care providers. They are role models for less experienced nurses, and they work to ensure a quality undergraduate or graduate education experience for nurses in training. They also design, implement, evaluate and revise academic and continuing education programs for nurses.
Nurse educator job titles may include Instructional or Administrative Nurse Faculty, Clinical Nurse Educator, Staff Development Officer and Continuing Education Specialist, among others.
Nurse Educator Education
To teach in LPN, associate degree or bachelor's degree programs, the following requirements are preferred:
- Registered nurse licensure and experience.
- A Master's degree in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctoral degree in Nursing (PhD), depending on whether you're interested in teaching in a graduate program. These degrees must include a major emphasis on nursing education or another nursing specialty.
- Advanced training and experience in a clinical specialty. You can then supplement this experience with coursework in education, such as a post-Master's certificate in education. To learn about upgrading your nursing degree, see our article about nursing continuing education
- Your nursing certification. The National League of Nursing offers Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) certification as a mark of excellence in the specialty role of the academic nurse educator
Nurse Educator Salary
Salaries for nurse educators vary widely depending on their role, specialty, qualifications, experience and location. At the higher end, Salary.com reports that the median expected salary for the Director of a Nursing School is $101,825. The middle 50 percent of nurses in this type of position earn between $84,743 and $114,705.
Also according to Salary.com, a Nursing Education Coordinator earns a median salary of $71,297. In general, nurse educators earn significantly more than RNs because of their advanced skills. Their earnings are comparable to those of an advanced practice nurse, but with more flexible hours and a more predictable workload.
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