How to Become a Nurse Educator
Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
The path to becoming a registered nurse (RN) requires time and devotion to education and clinical experience. However, as an RN, you have the benefit of specializing in any area of healthcare that most interests you.
Each specialization comes with its own unique job responsibilities, patient group, and work environment, but to become qualified, you must also complete specific educational and certification requirements.
(Click here to see our full list of highest paid nursing jobs)
Some specializations focus more on patient care while others are geared towards administration, research, or education. This article will focus on the educational career opportunities available to nurses, specifically the role of the nurse educator.
Nurse educators teach nursing classes at hospitals, colleges, and various other healthcare settings. They use their extensive RN experience to prepare the next generation of nurses for their careers.
For those who would enjoy using their knowledge and experience to educate and influence prospective nurses, this guide will help you better understand the role of a nurse educator, their job responsibilities, salary*, and educational requirements.
Nurse Educator Definition
What Is a Nurse Educator?
A nurse educator is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with an advanced degree in nursing. . They primarily teach nursing courses at hospitals, colleges, and clinical facilities.
By drawing from their own nursing experiences, nurse educators can impart valuable knowledge and wisdom to their students. Nurse educators play an indispensable role in our healthcare system. It’s their job to foster the next generation of nurses by equipping them with the necessary skills to succeed.
Nurse Educator: Job Description
What Does a Nurse Educator Do?
Nurse educators are responsible for multiple aspects of student learning and training. They are responsible for creating, implementing, and evaluating educational programs for nurses.
Nurse educators may teach general courses on nursing, or their curriculum may vary based on a particular specialty, such as geriatric or psychiatric nursing.
To provide the highest quality instruction, many nurse educators will continue to work as registered nurses to stay ahead of the latest developments in healthcare.
Nurse Educator: Day-to-Day Responsibilities
Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of nurse educators include:
- Developing curricula, classes, and programs of study
- Teaching, advising, and evaluating students
- Evaluating education programs as well as individual classes
- Overseeing clinical practice
- Documenting outcomes of educational processes
- Maintaining clinical competence
- Serving as role models and mentors to their students
Nurse Educator Jobs
Where Do Nurse Educators Work?
Nurse educators can be found working in a variety of settings. They typically work in hospitals and clinical facilities as staff development officers or clinical supervisors. However, some may also find work in academic settings.
Some of the most common workplaces for nurse educators include:
- Long-term care facilities
- Medical equipment companies
- Trade or vocational schools
Nurse Educator Schooling & Certification
How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Educator?
What Degree Do You Need to be a Nurse Educator?
Becoming a nurse educator requires a significant level of education and training. It also requires a wide breadth of experience by working as an RN.
However, whether you’re an experienced RN or just beginning your career, all nurse educators must earn a graduate degree before they can begin teaching.
It is a lot of work, but the dedication will pay off in the end, as nurse educators rank amongst the highest paying nursing jobs in the US.
Here are the general steps required to become a nurse educator:
1. Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree
The first step to becoming a nurse educator is earning your BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. 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 little as 20 months.
Accelerated nursing programs are also available to licensed vocational nurses with an associate’s 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).
3. Earn a Graduate Degree
To become a nurse educator, you’ll have to take your education one step further by earning a graduate degree. While a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree technically meets this requirement, you can also earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
MSN degrees usually take around 18 to 24 months to complete, while a Ph.D. could take around three to four years to complete.
4. Gain Real-World Experience Working as an APRN
After earning your graduate degree, the timeline to becoming a nurse educator varies depending on the amount of time you spend working as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). It’s recommended that you commit at least two years to gaining real-world experience before applying for nurse educator certification.
This time spent working as an APRN will prepare you for when you are working as both an APRN and a nurse educator.
5. Earn a Nurse Educator Certification from the National League for Nursing
Once you’ve spent time working as an APRN, and you feel prepared to take on the role of nurse educator, you’ll have to become a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) by passing the certification exam provided by the National League for Nursing (NLN).
The NLN provides more information regarding their computer-based examination in their candidate handbook, which can be found here.
Nurse Educator Salary
How Much Do Nurse Educators Make?
According to Payscale.com, the average salary* earned by nurse educators is about $76,000 per year, or about $37 per hour.
What is the Job Outlook for Nurse Educators?
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report any specific data related to the job outlook of nurse educators. However, they do report that the overall employment of APRNs is expected to grow 45% by 2029. As the overall employment of RNs and APRNs continues to grow, there will continue to be a need for nurse educators to train these new nurses.
Nurse Educator Career
Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Nurse Educator?
The next generation of nurses will need great teachers and mentors to guide them on their right path to medical service.
If you believe you have the passion and leadership qualities to train the nurses of tomorrow, then a career in nursing education could be extremely gratifying and financially rewarding.
You can start your journey of becoming a nurse educator by earning your BSN degree at Provo College. Click here to learn more about our BSN program.