How to Become a Nurse Educator: Jobs, Salary, Certification

Nurses study textbooks togetherA nurse educator is a registered nurse who also teaches nursing. A nurse educator serves as a faculty member at nursing schools and teaching hospitals. Professional titles for a nurse educator include Instructional or Administrative Nurse Faculty, Clinical Nurse Educator, Staff Development Officer and Continuing Education Specialist.

Nurse educators share their knowledge and skills to prepare the next generation to work as nursing professionals. These nurses create lesson plans, teach courses, evaluate programs and oversee students’ clinical training. Nurse educators serve in a variety of capacities, such as clinical nurse educators, staff development officers, continuing education specialists and college deans.

A nurse educator may take an examination to become a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE). Certification distinguishes the holder as having specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities in the education of nursing student.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Nurse Educator
Education Requirements
Nurse Educator Job Description
Sample Job Description
Personality Traits
Nurse educators on YouTube
Career Options
National Salary Snapshot
Nurse Educator Certification
Cost of Certification
Career Path
Professional Organizations
Relevant Publications
Related Careers offers salary information for nurse educators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers an overview of registered nurses who may work in the nurse educator capacity.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.

Level of Education Required Bachelor Degree in Nursing
Board Examinations needed NCLEX-RN, RN-BC
Average Salary $78,242
# of Jobs (2012) 2,712,000
Job Outlook (2012 to 2022) 19% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary information courtesy of

How to become a nurse educator

To work as a nurse educator, an individual:

  • Must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Must have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • May pursue additional education
  • May pursue voluntary certification after earning a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • May pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree necessary to teach at some universities

Education requirements

To work as a nurse educator, the individual will already have graduated nursing school and passed board examinations, and have several years of work experience as a registered nurse (RN). RNs interested in working as nurse educators may take advanced courses and certification exams in education and nursing specialty areas, such as pediatrics or labor and delivery.

The typical nurse educator completes at least a master’s degree in nursing. Most universities require a nurse educator to hold a doctorate.

Wilkes MS Nursing Education


Job description

A nurse educator teaches nursing principles to student nurses. The nurse educator designs curricula, and develops courses and programs of studies.  Like other educators, nurse educators evaluate student learning and documents the outcomes of the student educational process.

Sample job description

Sample job descriptions and qualifications are sourced from various job board websites, like these:,

  • Plans, develops, coordinates, implements and evaluates orientations, in-services, and continuing education/staff development programs in collaboration with directors, managers, staff, physicians, hospital departments, and others as needed
  • Acts as an education advisor to the nursing staff and managers to identify learning needs
  • Designs, implements, and evaluates education programs that assist nursing personnel to achieve competency and deliver safe care based on standards of practice
  • Models professional roles and behaviors that assist nursing personnel to acquire competency, knowledge, and clinical skills, demonstrating accountability and responsibility in clinical practice while adhering to the Patients First Philosophy of Safety, Compassion, and Efficiency
  • Functions as a change agent to improve patient care and supports interdisciplinary collaboration


  • Baccalaureate degree in nursing, education, or other related field required with a master’s degree preferred
  • Current state licensure as a registered nurse
  • Current CPR certification, ACLS and PALS

Four years of experience in acute care nursing with two years in area of specialty required

Personality Traits of a Nurse Educator:

Personality traits of the nurse educator include:

  • Future-oriented
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Excellent critical thinking skills
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Easy rapport with people
  • Ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms

The nurse educator reports to department heads in academic settings.

Nurse educators on YouTube

Career options

Typical workplaces for a nurse educator include:

  • Universities
  • Community and junior colleges
  • Technical colleges
  • Hospitals
  • Hospital-based schools of nursing
  • Community health agencies
  • Home care agencies
  • Long-term care facilities

Some nurse educators work online, using distance-learning technology.

The demand for nurse educators is growing rapidly to meet the increasing need for trained nurses to care for an aging population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of job openings for registered nurses to rise by 12 percent between 2012 and 2022. To fill these newly created jobs, and to fill openings created by nurses leaving the workforce, more than one million new nurses must graduate from nursing programs. This, in turn, creates a greater need for nurse educators.

National salary snapshot

Indeed lists the salary for nurse educators as $65,000, while SimplyHired posts the average yearly pay at $56,000 for the position.

Certification information

The National League for Nursing offers Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) certification. Applicants must have a current, unrestricted nursing license and a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing with a major emphasis on, or certification or continuing education in, nursing education. Two or more years experience teaching in a nursing program or academic institution within five years of application may be admissible for application. Applicants must take a written exam to earn CNE certification as a nurse educator.

Cost of certification

Credential: CNE

Fees for Non-Members:

Initial Exam: $500

Recertification: $500

Fees for Members:

Initial Exam: $400

Recertification: $400

Typical career path

The typical career path to becoming a nurse educator is to:

  • Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Work as an RN, gaining clinical experience in a specialty of interest
  • Earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) (optional)

Pass the Certified Nurse Educator Examination from a professional organization like the National League of Nursing.

Professional organizations

American Association of Colleges of Nursing:

National League for Nursing:

Association for Nursing Professional Development:

Professional Nurse Educators Group:

Relevant publications

Journal of Nursing Education

Nurse Educator

Nurse Education Today

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