Nurse educators work in nursing schools, community colleges and universities to prepare the next generation of practicing nurses. Some nurse educators teach in two-year associate programs while others teach at universities that grant four-year bachelor’s degrees. Nurse educator salary trends are on the rise across the country, and the current national median annual salary stands at $72,749.

Educational Background of Nurse Educators

Nurse educators start out as registered nurses with valid nursing licenses. They need several years of work experience prior to teaching nursing. Nurse educators must earn at least a master’s degree in nursing education, and many universities expect their faculty to hold a relevant doctorate, such as a Ph.D. in nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). To enter a doctoral program, they must have a master’s degree.

Some nurse educators also hold specialized training or experience in specific clinical fields, such as emergency room nursing, oncology or critical care. By the time they enter the classroom as a teacher, he or she has earned a bachelor’s degree, passed the NCLEX, gained a graduate degree in nursing and spent many years nursing in one or more areas of medicine.

Before entering the classroom as teachers, they typically need to pass the Nurse Educator Certification exam, as well.

Become a Nurse Educator

Our MSN in Nursing Education prepares you for multiple instructional positions in a variety of health care settings.

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Competencies Nurse Educators Need

A nurse educator plays two roles: practicing nurse and classroom teacher. As such, nurse educator careers require professionals to be competent as both clinicians and educators.

Nurse educators must be well-informed and deeply experienced in the practice of nursing. They need up-to-date knowledge of state and industry regulations, nursing standards and medical practice. Nursing students expect their teachers to deliver an education that is technologically savvy but also clear on modern nursing techniques.

In addition to clinical knowledge and skills, nurse educators must be talented teachers. Like any other college professor, they develop lesson plans, review texts, deliver lectures and assess student work. They may also meet one-on-one with students for career counseling or tutoring. Nurse educators serve in and out of the classroom, helping students complete their nursing education, pass the NCLEX and launch their nursing careers. Some institutions also expect nurse educators to procure grant funding, conduct research, publish articles and present their findings at academic conferences. At other colleges and universities, they may help write nursing or health-related textbooks, design academic programs or participate in community outreach efforts to expose children to the practice of nursing.

The Role of a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators typically serve in academic settings, but some provide clinical supervision or staff development in health care settings. Unlike a clinical nurse, they do not work 12-hour shifts or conduct rotations in the middle of the night. Instead, they usually work during traditional business hours.

Some nursing educators teach courses or do research that keeps them in classrooms and offices. Others may move back and forth between a classroom and a clinical setting where they engage students in laboratory exercises.

Nurse Educator Salary

According to Payscale, a nurse educator’s average salary is about $73,000 per year. It can range from as low as $54,000 to as high as $100,000. Many factors determine their level of income. Specialized skills, education and location can all play a role. For example, those skilled in dialysis, emergency department or surgery can earn more than the average; those living in New England or on the west coast also tend to receive higher salaries. Perhaps the most important factor in a nurse educator’s salary is experience. Late-career nurses can earn 18 percent more than those just entering the profession.

Become a Nurse Educator

Take your first step to becoming a nurse educator. Fairleigh Dickinson University’s online Nursing Educator MSN program combines your clinical expertise with a passion for teaching. Our program is individually tailored to your goals, which prepares you for multiple instructional positions in a variety of health care settings.