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How to Become a Nurse Administrator

Duties, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Young healthcare worker holding a tablet

One of the benefits of nursing is your ability to specialize in an area of healthcare that interests you most.

These specializations vary in responsibility, work environment, and patient group, and they also come with educational and certification requirements.

(Go here to see our list of highest-paid nursing jobs)

While many Registered Nurses (RNs) work to become specialized in treating a specific patient group or illness, others may desire administrative roles.

If you want a nursing career emphasizing greater managerial and leadership responsibilities, you should consider becoming a Nurse Administrator.

Nurse Administrators manage staff and oversee the work of other nurses. Their job responsibilities vary depending on the healthcare setting, but their primary role is supervising their staff.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator requires extensive R.N. experience and an advanced degree in nursing administration.

If the idea of healthcare management and nursing administration piques your interest, then continue reading to understand better the role of a Nurse Administrator, their job responsibilities, salary*, and educational requirements.

Nurse Administrator Definition

What is a Nurse Administrator?

A Nurse Administrator is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) that manages and oversees the nursing staff. They help coordinate between nurses and other departments, develop policies and procedures, and deal with H.R. and budgeting.

Nurse Administrator: Job Description

What Does a Nurse Administrator Do?

The job responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator will vary depending on where they work. Their general duties involve overseeing their nursing staff and supervising assistant administrators.

Nurse Administrators also manage finances, create budgets, and keep a record of their services and resources to ensure that the institution operates within its financial means. Finally, the Nurse Administrator’s role is managerial; therefore, they must conduct performance reviews of their staff.

Nurse Administrator: Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Nurse Administrators include:

  • Overseeing nursing and medical staff
  • Conducting staff performance reviews
  • Recruiting, hiring, and training nurses
  • Budgeting and managing finances
  • Meeting with other hospital executives to refine or develop policies and procedures

Nurse Administrator Jobs

Where Do Nurse Administrators Work?

Nurse Administrators can work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations. The path to becoming a Nurse Administrator varies in length for each of these settings. Some Nurse Administrators oversee several medical units within a system. At the peak of a Nurse Administrator’s career, they may work alongside the CEO to manage organization-wide systems.

Nurse Administrator Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Administrator?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Nurse Administrator?

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To become a Nurse Administrator, you’ll typically devote six to eight years to nursing education and training.

Whether you’ve already earned a nursing degree or just beginning your education, you must receive a master’s degree in Nursing Administration to become a Nurse Administrator.

Just like any managerial role, Nurse Administrators must spend significant time gaining real-life experience working as a Registered Nurse before being considered for a promotion.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator requires a lot of time and hard work, but it pays off as Nurse Administrators rank among the highest-paying nursing jobs in the U.S.

Here are the steps typically required to become a Nurse Administrator:

1. Earn Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

The first step to becoming a Nurse Administrator is earning your BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. If you’re just starting, a BSN program will take you about three to four years to complete.

However, if you’ve already earned your associates degree in nursing, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs are very convenient and can be completed in as few as 20 months.

Accelerated nursing programs are also available to Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) with an associate degree in vocational nursing (AVSN). These LVN to BSN courses allow you to skip the first three semesters of the BSN program.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Certification Exam

Upon earning your BSN degree, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to earn your nursing license. With the NCLEX, you’ll be certified to enter the workforce as a Registered Nurse (RN).

(Click here to read our NCLEX-RN Exam Review & Study Guide)

3. Earn a Master of Science in Nursing Administration Degree

You’ll have to further your education by earning a master’s degree to become a Nurse Administrator. While a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree meets this requirement, an MSN Administration degree will tailor your education to the Nurse Administrator role.

4. Gain Real-World Experience Working as an R.N.

Now that you’ve earned your master’s degree, you’ll be qualified to work as a Nurse Administrator. However, just like any managerial role, you’ll need to commit a few years to gain nursing experience before you’re entrusted to lead an entire nursing staff. In addition, the experience required to be a Nurse Administrator varies depending on where you work.

Nurse Administrator Salary

How Much Do Nurse Administrators Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary* of Medical and Health Services Managers, which include Nurse Administrators, was about $120,000 per year or about $58 per hour as of 2021. The lowest earning 10% of Nurse Administrators earn around $61,000. The highest earning 10% of Nurse Administrators can earn up to $205,000 or more.

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Highest Paying Industries for Nurse Administrators

According to the BLS, some of the highest paying industries for Nurse Administrators include:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Pharmaceutical Industry $98.26 $204,380
Scientific Research & Development $90.66 $188,580
Specialized Hospitals $62.70 $130,420
General Hospitals $62.22 $129,410
Outpatient Care Centers $56.41 $117,340

Highest Paying States for Nurse Administrators

According to the BLS, some of the highest paying states for Nurse Administrators include:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
New York $74.73 $155,430
Washington D.C. $72.78 $151,370
Massachusetts $67.44 $140,270
Washington $66.62 $138,580
New Jersey $65.66 $136,580

Highest Paying Cities for Nurse Administrators

According to the BLS, some of the highest paying cities for Nurse Administrators include:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, CA $77.94 $162,110
Vallejo, CA $75.64 $157,340
New York, NY $75.18 $156,370
California, MD $72.55 $150,900
San Francisco, CA $72.24 $150,250
Seattle, WA $70.97 $147,610
Boston, MA $70.43 $146,490
Bloomsburg, PA $70.37 $146,360
Santa Rosa, CA $69.50 $144,560
Sacramento, CA $67.83 $141,090

What is the Job Outlook for Nurse Administrators?

According to the BLS, the job growth for Medical and Health Services Managers, which includes Nurse Administrators, is projected to increase by 32% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (8%).

As the large baby-boom population ages, there will be an increased demand for healthcare services. This means a need for more doctors and nurses, which will require more managers to organize and manage medical information and healthcare staff.

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Nurse Administrator Career

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Nurse Administrator?

If you’ve got a natural sense of leadership and a passion for caring for others, then becoming a Nurse Administrator may be your career choice. You’ll serve as a role model for the younger generations of nurses, and your work will improve healthcare and patient outcomes.

If you’re prepared to begin the journey of becoming a Nurse Administrator, you can start by earning your BSN degree at Provo College.

Click here to learn more about our BSN program.