How to Become a Nurse Educator
Use your nursing skills and experience to teach and inspire the next generation of nurses.
Do you remember your favorite teacher from nursing school? What kind of impact did they have on your career and the kind of nurse you became? Now, imagine yourself in the nurse educator role, influencing and guiding the next batch of upcoming nurses. If you'd like to help aspiring nurses while using your experience to update and direct nursing curriculum, take a look at how to become a nurse educator.
As a nurse educator, you'll combine your nursing skills with those of a successful teacher to mentor new nurses. In your transition from nurse to nurse educator, you'll influence hundreds of nurses that will follow in your footsteps—and increase your income in the process.
What Is a Nurse Educator?
A nurse educator is a hybrid of knowledge and experience. As a nurse educator, you'll set the standards and prepare the class curriculum for nursing students. You'll also demonstrate and teach patient care to nursing students in the classroom and work with them hands-on in a hospital setting. A typical day as a nurse educator may include tasks such as:
- Giving a lecture to a classroom of nursing students.
- Preparing for the next day's lecture.
- Spending several hours working in a hospital, clinic, or long-term care facility.
- Holding office hours to counsel and advise students.
Nurse educators can be generalists, or they can bring their advanced experience in a particular area of nursing to teach specialized skills to nursing students. Registered nurses can work in more than 100 different specialty areas. That means there are more than 100 specialties that need educators. Historically, there's a need for nurse specialty educators in the areas of adult health, psychiatric and mental health, maternal health, pediatrics, community and public health, and critical care.
Where Do Nurse Educators Work?
Nurse educators typically work as administrators in nursing schools, as nursing education consultants that help develop and improve nursing curriculum, or as independent contractors in other medical education-focused positions. You can work in a number of college settings or health-care facilities including:
- Senior colleges and universities
- Junior or community colleges
- Hospital-based schools of nursing
- Technical colleges
- Community health agencies
- Home care agencies
- Long-term care facilities
- Online using distance learning technology
How to Become a Nurse Educator
Before you can work as a nurse educator, you will need:
- A postsecondary degree (master's or higher) in nursing from a one of a variety of accredited nursing education programs.
- An active nursing license.
- One year or more of practical nursing experience or teaching experience.
- CPR certification.
Obtain a Master's Degree in Nursing Education
A master's in nursing education, also known as an MSN, is the minimum education requirement to become a nurse educator. With your MSN, you can teach licensed vocational nursing (LVN) or licensed practical nursing (LPN) as well as classes for associate nursing degrees and diploma programs. You can earn your master’s in nursing education online by taking msn nursing education classes from an online program that you combine with clinical experience.
Earn a Doctorate in Nursing Education
You will need a Ph.D. to teach nursing education in an undergraduate or post-graduate program at a four-year university.
Specialize With Nurse Educator Certificate Programs
Registered nurses can specialize in more than 100 areas of nursing. To learn how to become a nurse educator in a specialized area like labor and delivery nurse education, you'll need to take classes to earn a certificate in that area.
Become a Certified Nurse Educator
Beyond any certification for working in specialized areas and for performing CPR, you don't have to be certified to work as a nurse educator, but it may give you an advantage in finding jobs. There are two types of certification:
- The first is a CNE (Certified Nurse Educator) distinction, which indicates that you are qualified to be an academic nurse educator.
- The second is for designation as a CNEcl (Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator). This certification recognizes that you are proficient as a clinical nurse educator who works with students in a clinical setting such as a hospital.
The NLN (National League for Nursing) oversees the certified nurse educator exams.
How Much Do Nurse Educators Make?
Monster data indicates that the median clinical nurse educator salary is $75,538 per year, with pay ranging from about $53,719 to about $97,484. You can look up the average salary for nurse educators in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Nurse Educator Jobs
The first step in any successful job search is to put together a knock-out resume. Take a look at these health-care resume tips from Monster before writing your nurse educator resume. Be sure to include a nurse educator cover letter that’s targeted to the role you’re applying for.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies these top five states and areas where you'll find the most nurse educator jobs:
The Smart Way to Find a Nurse Educator Job
Once you’ve learned how to become a nurse educator, get to the head of the class by uploading your resume for free on Monster. Let recruiters and employers know you’re ready to start mentoring the next generation of nurses by applying to the top nurse educator jobs in your area.