Nurse Educator

What Is a Nurse Educator?

A nurse educator is an RN who has also earned an advanced practice nursing degree which allows them to teach and train future licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) at colleges, universities, and more. Nurse educators have extensive clinical experience, and oftentimes continue working in clinical settings with patients after they've become educators. These nurses fill the role of faculty members in nursing schools as well as teaching hospitals, passing down important knowledge, experience, and skills to their students who will eventually become the next generation of nurses. As a nurse educator, you will plan, assess, update, and execute nursing education curriculum. You will also act as an educational advisor, role model, and as a mentor to your students, helping them along their way towards becoming successful RNs.

What Are Some Nurse Educator Duties?

Common tasks carried out by nurse educators typically include:

  • Developing lesson plans and curricula
  • Teaching students
  • Evaluating and revising course structure and material as well as educational programs
  • Advising, mentoring, and evaluating students
  • Writing grant proposals
  • Overseeing students' clinical practice
  • Lecturing and facilitating class discussions
  • Maintaining clinical competence
  • Conducting research and engaging in scholarly work
  • Attending and speaking at nursing education conferences
  • Documenting outcomes of individual students and educational processes as a whole

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?

While most envision nurse educators at academic institutions, there are additional settings where they may find employment. The most common settings include:

  • Universities
  • Community colleges
  • Technical schools, trade or vocational schools
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities

How to Become a Nurse Educator

The path toward becoming a nurse educator is a long and arduous one. Prospective nurse educators should possess exceptional leadership qualities, have great communication skills, and have comprehensive knowledge in their respective field. If you're interested in a career as a nurse educator, you'll need to pursue an advanced nursing degree, have a passion for teaching, and be a lifelong learner.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The educational requirements to become a nurse educator are numerous. After a BSN has been earned, you'll need to obtain an advanced degree in nursing from an accredited university. Advanced degrees such as a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) will all suffice. Many of these advanced degree types have specializations for Nurse Educators.

If you are especially interested in pursuing a career in the academic side of nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) may be preferable since these programs heavily emphasize research methods and techniques, leadership, and public policy.

Do Nurse Educators Need an RN Degree?

Not only do nurse educators need to be RNs, but they also need to possess some kind of graduate-level degree such as Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN), or a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Step 2: Required Nurse Educator Certifications/Credentials

To be eligible to take the National League of Nursing (NLN) certification exam you must have the fulfilled the following requirements:

  • Hold a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing from an accredited college of university
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX-RN)
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Hold a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)


  • Hold a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.)


  • Hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Nurse Educator Jobs, Salary & Employment

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by the year 2020. However, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nearly 65,000 qualified nursing applicants were turned away from nursing schools last year. How come? Well, many nursing schools simply didn't have enough nurse educators to educate and train students who would like to become nurses. So, for those with the proper training and education, there is no shortage of nurse educator positions that need to be filled.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong leadership qualities, excellent interpersonal communication abilities, critical thinking, a comprehensive clinical and theoretical knowledge base, fair, resilient, consistent, strong people skills
  • Job Outlook - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job openings in the nursing sector will increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024 - a growth rate that's much higher than most fields of employment. Job growth for nurse instructors should be in-line with or higher than that figure.

What Is the Average Salary of a Nurse Educator?

According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for nurse educators is about $74,591. The exact amount nurse educators are paid depends significantly on factors like their geographical location of employment, what kind of institution they're employed by, what kinds of educational credentials they hold, and how much experience in the field they have. Because nurse educators are usually employed by large organizations and institutions, most who are employed full-time will receive generous employee benefit packages which typically include medical, vision, dental, and prescription insurance coverage. Receiving some annual paid-time off and sick leave is also normal in this profession.

How Much Do Nurse Educators Make per Year?

  • $54,000 – $99,000 annually

How Much Do Nurse Educators Make per Hour?

  • $36.26 average hourly wage

Nurse Educator Resources