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Career Guide
Nurse educator

If you excel in communication, possess a wealth of nursing knowledge and enjoy fostering growth and development in others, a career as a nurse educator could be in your future.

If you excel in communication, possess a wealth of nursing knowledge and enjoy fostering growth and development in others, a career as a nurse educator could be in your future.

Career overview

Nurse educators are crucial in shaping healthcare professionals' future, guiding nursing students in classroom and clinical settings to teach patient care. Their responsibilities include preparing lectures and course materials, evaluating students' work, supervising laboratory and clinical activities and leading discussions. Nurse educators also stay updated in the field through continuing education and clinical work experience. They advise nursing students on academic paths, mentor faculty members and coordinate training programs. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, they may also conduct research, participate in administrative duties and contribute to the academic community through various activities.

In 2022, 85,900 postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers were employed in the national workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). The largest employers of postsecondary nurse educators include college, university and professional schools; junior colleges; and general medical and surgical hospitals, BLS reports. Job titles related to this career include clinical nursing instructor, nurse educator, nursing instructor and nursing professor.

Nurse educators are greatly needed in the workforce as there has been a shortage of nursing faculty across the United States over the last few years. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 66,261 qualified applicants were denied entry into bachelor’s nursing programs in 2022 due to several factors, including a lack of faculty. The shortage of faculty can be partly attributed to the lack of nurses with advanced degrees, which are often preferred or even required by institutions for employment as a nursing faculty member.

Career-relevant skills

You may need the following skills and foundational knowledge in day-to-day experience in the nurse educator career:

  • Applied nursing theory
  • Interprofessional competencies
  • Problem solving
  • Analyze social determinants
  • Health equity
  • Information technology
  • Legal/ethical medication administration
  • Translate leadership theories
  • Global health nursing
  • Decision making
  • Evidence based practice
  • Applied statistics
  • Safety in advanced practice
  • Patient interview
  • Disease process analysis
  • Physiological process
  • Critical thinking
  • Pharmacological databases
  • Pharmacologic patient education
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Cultural competence

Additional skills:

  • Analyze learning theory
  • Curriculum development
  • Nurse education
  • Rubric development
  • Program evaluation
  • Mentorship
  • Student engagement
  • Advising
  • Educational technologies
  • Applied informatics
  • Project development
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Advanced clinical practice

Soft skills

Regularly used on the job

Service orientation, time management, active listening, coordination and active learning are a few vital soft skills you may need as a nurse educator, according to O*NET.

Salary range $63 - 103K

25th to 75th percentile

In 2022, nurse educators within the 25th and 75th percentiles earned between $63,050 and $103,370, according to nationwide statistics for BLS.[1]

15,600 jobs

Projected growth (2022-2032)

Jobs in this field are projected to increase by 18% nationally between 2022 and 2032. This is faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations, BLS reports. [1]

[1] Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website. The BLS Projected Growth for 2022-2032 is published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects the BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

Education and experience

Nurse educators prepare lectures and course materials and lead discussions.

To pursue the nurse educator career, candidates typically need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). For this line of work, you may want to consider a master’s program with a concentration in nurse education. In some cases, advanced degrees such as a PhD or doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) may be preferred and can allow you opportunities to do more within your career. For example, with a DNP, you may be able to teach as a university professor, spearhead clinical research and qualify to evaluate your peers. 

It is important to note that you will typically need to have an active, unencumbered RN license to qualify for bachelor’s and graduate nursing programs, gain nursing experience and work as a nurse educator. You may also need to meet additional state requirements depending on where you live. For example, registered nurses in many states must renew their license every two years, within which you also may have to complete a certain number of continuing education hours. Continuing education courses are designed to help you keep updated on best practices and newest advancements in this constantly evolving field. Consider working as a registered nurse (RN) for about two to five years in a clinical setting to gain necessary experience.

As a nurse educator, you can become certified by taking the National League of Nursing (NLN) certification exam. In some cases, you may be required to continue clinical practice in the field while teaching. This requirement helps educators remain actively engaged in their field through relevant work experience they can bring to the classroom. Progression in this career may involve leading educational teams, contributing to curriculum development to enhance nursing programs or specializing in a specific area of nursing education, such as clinical, instructional or developmental education. 

At University of Phoenix, we offer graduate and doctoral programs that lead to the nurse educator career outcome. Our programs allow you to fit your education into your busy schedule, taking one course at a time in six- to eight-week intervals. Learn more about which of these programs — focused on teaching you the skills you’ll need in your career — is right for you.


Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Nurse Education

Advanced nursing theory, strong clinical skills, and research provide the foundation for nurse leaders to influence the future of nursing and healthcare. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in Nurse Education, will prepare you to facilitate and deliver quality patient care while coordinating actions in the workplace and managing a team of nurses. Develop your knowledge with key courses covering topics like nursing theory, leadership, social justice and information systems, advanced pathophysiology, health assessment, pharmacology, and the nursing leader’s role in healthcare organizations.

In this program, you’ll learn how to:

  • Integrate theoretical, organizational, and systems leadership concepts into healthcare resources for diverse populations
  • Evaluate organizational processes, system, and utilization of current technologies to support continuous quality improvement and promote safe patient outcomes
  • Appraise theory and evidence-based research to transform professional nursing practice
  • Synthesize the principles of healthcare policy, regulation, accreditation, and ethics to advocate for change within populations
  • Integrate evidence-based guidelines and interprofessional collaboration to improve healthcare for diverse populations in local, national and global settings
  • Apply educational tools and teaching principles to design, implement, and evaluate culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate health education programs for individuals or groups in a variety of settings

You can earn this degree by completing 34 credits of required study and direct care clinical hours. The length of this program is 20 months, and each course is six to eight weeks long. Graduates may be eligible to sit for the Nurse Educator Certification Exam and should contact the National League for Nursing for eligibility requirements.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) builds on the foundation of the graduate nursing competencies. Program content focuses on advocacy; scientific evidence and innovations for improvement in patient and health care outcomes; leadership strategies; and accountability to transform health care delivery by designing, evaluating, and continuously improving the context within health care delivery. Graduates are prepared for the expanding role functions and the needs of advanced nursing practice. Graduates of the DNP, with a blend of clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills, are prepared to significantly influence health care outcomes.

In this program, you’ll learn how to:

  • Integrate scientific underpinnings to advance nursing practice and improve the health care environment following state Nurse Practice Acts and/or regulatory guidelines
  • Construct leadership strategies to improve health care outcomes
  • Translate scientific evidence and innovations to improve population health status and care outcomes
  • Synthesize scholarly evidence, judgment and accountability in designing, delivering and evaluating a project to impact health outcomes.

You can earn this degree by completing 31 credits of required study. The length of this program is 20 months, and each course is eight weeks long. This program does not prepare students for any type of professional certification or state licensure as a nurse or an advanced practice nurse.

Additional pathways

If you do not currently have a bachelor’s degree and would like to pursue the nurse educator career path, consider earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).We offer an RN to BSN program for those who have earned an associate degree or diploma in nursing and would like to further their higher education. 

We also offer a competency-based alternative to the traditional RN to BSN program, which allows students to work independently and at their own pace with faculty guidance while saving time and money on their degree. It is important to note that competency-based programs are not the right fit for every student. Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your license to practice as a registered nurse. 

If you have active RN licensure and a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, our Nursing Bridge Program helps experienced nurses like you earn your MSN degree. You’ll start with three BSN courses and then move into the master's program specialty that fits your career goals. Reach out to an enrollment representative for more information on your competency-based and bridge program options.

C C N E Accredited

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Phoenix are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Nurse educators play an important role is ensuring there are enough nurses in the workforce

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