How to Become a Nurse Educator:
The Definitive Guide

Have you been a Registered Nurse for many years, but are you finding that you like to teach rather than work on the hospital floor?

A Nurse Educator provides knowledge to future and current Registered Nurses in a classroom setting.

As a Nurse Educator, you will be tasked with preparing aspiring Registered Nurses to transition into the workforce.

If this sounds like something that appeals to you, keep reading to find out how to become a Nurse Educator.

What is a Nurse Educator?

A Nurse Educator is a Registered Nurse who had an advanced degree in nursing.

This advanced degree allows them to teach across many platforms, including colleges and universities.

Nurse Educators must work in a hospital setting, clinical settings, as well as in classroom teaching.

Consider a Nurse Educator a mix between a professor and a nurse, they will do both jobs, oftentimes at the same time.

As a Nurse Educator, you will assist students on their journey to becoming Registered Nurses.


A Nurse Educator has many roles, throughout the day you can see a Nurse Educator working in a hospital setting or teaching in a classroom.

Some of the duties that you may experience as a Nurse Educator are:

  • Designing curriculum
  • Develop classroom studies
  • Teaching
  • Advising students
  • Write grant proposals
  • Overseeing clinical practices
  • Engaging in scholarly work
  • Documenting outcomes
  • Speaking at conferences


The average salary for a Nurse Educator in the United States is around $83,000 a year.

In many states, including Washington DC, you can make more than $100,000 a year as a Nurse Educator.

However, in some states, it’s possible to make as little as $41,000 a year as a Nurse Educator.

The difference in salary can depend on the size of the university or town that you practice, as well as how long you’ve been working as a Registered Nurse and a Nurse Educator.

The more experience you have in nursing, the better you will be at advising prospective Registered Nurses.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $83,160


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Delaware- NA -
District of Columbia$157,560
New Hampshire$72,890
New Jersey$87,120
New Mexico$67,410
New York$97,750
North Carolina$70,300
North Dakota$72,180
Rhode Island$80,220
South Carolina$74,020
South Dakota$73,160
West Virginia$58,590
Puerto Rico$35,980

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $157,560.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $157,560
Florida - $122,050
California - $101,930
New York - $97,750
Connecticut - $97,350
* Employment conditions in your area may vary. * Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.

How to Become a Nurse Educator

Step 1Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first thing that you are going to have to do to become a Nurse Educator is to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in nursing.

This can be done at many colleges and universities around the country, just make sure that you earn an accredited degree.

A typical Bachelor’s degree in nursing can take around four years to complete.

If you are interested in this area of study, you can expect to take classes like:

  • Public Health
  • Anatomy
  • Emergency Care
  • Psychology
  • Nursing Research
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Statistics

And the list goes on!

Most Bachelors degrees require an internship and clinical classes in order to earn a degree as a Nurse.

Step 2Become Registered

After you earn your degree, it’s time to take the tests to become a Registered Nurse.

This can be done at nearly any hospital or university in the country, the test that you are going to want to take is called the NCLEX-RN exam.

This exam will grade you on your knowledge of nursing and the medical field.

Many aspiring nurses decide to volunteer in hospitals or doctors’ offices to gain experience before attending the exam.

This way, they can show off their medical knowledge with hands-on demonstrations.

The exam can take up to two hours to complete, but some of them can be taken online in your own home.

You must be a Registered Nurse to work in the United States.

Step 3Gain Experience

Of course, the next logical step is to start working as a Nurse.

Whether you already had a job lined up before you graduated and took your NCLEX-RN exam, or you are on the hunt for employment, it’s important to gain the experience you will need in order to work as a Nurse Educator.

At this point in your career, you probably aren’t sure if you want to be a Nurse Educator or not, but to gain the most knowledge it’s advised to work in several different areas of the hospital.

Some of the areas that you can gain experience in are:

  • Obstetrics
  • NICU
  • ICU
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Emergency Room
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics

A Nurse Educator will want to have hands-on practice with every situation that can happen in a hospital.

This way, he or she will know what to do when advising and mentoring new nurses.

Step 4Earn a Master's Degree

After maintaining employment for several years, and having the knowledge of nursing and the medical field, you may be ready to earn a Master’s degree.

Most Nurse Educators have at least three years of experience under their belt before attending a Master’s degree program.

Earning a Master’s degree in Nursing can take some time, but after two years, you can work as a Nurse Educator.

Most Master’s degrees in nursing require a lot of lab time, clinical time, as well as hands-on experience in the field.

If you are interested in pursuing a Masters degree, you can expect to take classes like:

  • Nurse as Scholar
  • Population Health
  • Professional Transitions
  • Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Physical Assessment and Diagnostics
  • Advanced Nursing in Primary Care Adolescents
  • Advanced Nursing in Primary Care Older Adult Patients

There are also specializations that Nurse Educators can get into, some of them include:

  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Cardiology
  • Oncology
  • Nursing Education
  • Psychiatric Mental Health


Every Registered Nurse in the United States must have some form of education.

However, in order to work as a Nurse Educator, you must earn a Master’s degree in nursing.

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, which can take around four years, a Master’s degree is next on the agenda.

A Master’s degree can take around two years to complete.

During a typical Master’s degree in Nursing program, prospective Nurse Educators will have classroom time, clinical time, and lab time.

It’s important that a Nurse Educator has knowledge in all areas of nursing, so some of the classes that are available in a Masters degree program include:

  • Advanced Physiology
  • Advanced Concepts of Health Assessment
  • Management of Major Health Problems
  • Implementing the Educator Role
  • Facilitating Student Learning

It is possible to take a Master’s degree in Nursing online, however, it is not advised as you will need to attend in-person clinicals and lab work.

If you do take classes online, see which hospitals or other facilities you can connect with to do an internship or work clinicals.

There are many things that you can do with a Masters degree in Nursing, and if you are looking for some other ideas for careers, you may be interested in:

  • Patient Educator
  • Facility Development Director
  • Medical Textbook Editor
  • Community Health Services Manager
  • Military Nurse Educator

Attending a Master’s degree nursing program can be difficult for those who are not 100% ready to become Nurse Educators.

Don’t forget that you will be responsible for mentoring and advising new and prospective nurses in a clinical and classroom setting.

This means that you must possess a solid clinical background, strong communication skills, and understand cultural competence.

There is a growing demand for Nurse Educators, so having the knowledge and understanding of the medical field is very important.

Video About The Career


Although it is not legally required to become certified to work as a Nurse Educator, there are some hospitals that look down on Nurse Educators who are not certified.

One of the certifications that are popular in this field is the Certified Nurse Educator credential by the National League of Nursing.

This certification requires that you take an exam, to qualify for this you must:

  • Have an active and unrestricted nursing license
  • Have a Masters degree in Nursing
  • Have completed nursing education courses to the most advanced level

This certification is good for five years, and after it must be renewed by taking the exam once again.

Some of the areas that the exam covers may include:

  • Facilitating Learning
  • Curriculum Design and Evaluation of Program Outcomes
  • Facilitate Learner Development and Socialization

Testing may be different in some areas.

Every exam has 150 questions, and 20 of them are not scored.

You will not know which questions will be scored when you take the test.

It is possible to earn certification as a Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator as well.

This certification is a little different than the Certified Nurse Educator credential.

While it still requires all of the same qualifications as the other certification, this award allows a Nurse Educator to work solely in clinical facilities as an educator.

This certification also requires that you take an exam.

Some of the topics that are covered on this exam are:

  • Function within the Education and Healthcare Environments
  • Clinical Expertise
  • Effective Clinical Assessment and Evaluation Strategies
  • Interpersonal Communication and Collaborative Relationships

In order to be a great Nurse Educator, you should definitely think about earning one of these certifications.

The use of certifications shows that you are competent and confident in your knowledge of the field, which looks great to future employers.

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

Certifications don’t have a specific training period because the exam can be taken whenever you want.

However, it does take about two years to work toward a Master’s degree, which is what you will need in order to take one of these exams.

Master’s degrees in nursing can be broken up into many different majors, depending on what your interested in and which type of Nurse Educator you would like to become.

Popular Degree Programs

Job Outlook

It seems that those who are interested in becoming Nurse Educators should have no problem finding employment in the next decade.

This career is estimated to grow around 20 percent within the next ten years.

Students will continue to seek higher education, and Nurse Educators are skilled in providing that education.

It is likely that most colleges and universities will hire Nurse Educators for part-time employment over full-time, but it’s important to ask about your work hours before accepting a job offer.

Within the healthcare services field, the aging population will increase the number of Nurses needed, which will provide more jobs for Nurse Educators.

Employment Growth Projection: 20%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 13,800 jobs.

Should You Become a Nurse Educator?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

It seems that most Nurse Educators are very happy with their careers.

Nurse Educators that work for fewer hours and have more freedom in their schedule tend to have a more satisfying career than those who are overworked and overstressed.

Many Nurse Educators that work for private corporations also reported higher satisfaction levels in their careers.

Educators can teach rural, major universities, private universities, and much more.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

On average in the United States, a Nurse Educator can expect to make around $83,000 a year.

Those that are just starting out, or that work in smaller populations, can make much less, at around $41,000 a year.

With education, experience, and certain specializations, it is possible for a Nurse Educator to make over $100,000 a year.

Nurse Educators that work in California can make up to $101,000 a year, while Nurse Educators that work in Iowa only make around $80,000 a year.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

There will be no shortage of Nurse Educators in the near future.

It seems that the growth for this career will rise around 20 percent within the next decade.

This means that there will be more opportunities for Nurse Educators across the country.

Nursing is a very lucrative career, and Nurse Educators are needed to advise these prospective nurses.

The aging baby boomer generation and the use of technology in the medical field will require more education in nursing as well.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

In order to work as a Nurse Educator, you need to possess a Master’s degree in nursing.

Most Master’s degrees take around 2 years to complete, however, you will need a Bachelor’s degree before earning a Master’s.

A Bachelor’s degree takes around four years to finish.

Plus, you are required to have experience as a Registered Nurse in order to work as a Nurse Educator.

This means that it can take anywhere from 6-10 years to become a Nurse Educator.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

It takes a strong person to be a Nurse Educator.

Those that are knowledgeable about nursing and have a passion for the field make the best Nurse Educators.

Some of the personal skills needed for this career include:

  • Passion for the role
  • Motivation
  • Energetic and charismatic
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Organization skills
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Physical strength
  • Great communication skills

Nurse Educators will spend their time doing many different tasks, so it is important that they are knowledgeable in all parts of nursing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of a Nurse Educator?

As a Nurse Educator, you can expect to make around $83,000 a year in the United States.

Those that are just starting out as a Nurse Educator might make a bit less, lowest at around $41,000 a year.

However, for Nurse Educators who have a lot of experience or who work in large populations, the salary can be up to or even over $100,000 a year.

It all depends on where you work, and how much you know.

Q. How long does it take to become a Nurse Educator?

Since you have to know a lot of information and have a lot of hands-on experience as a Nurse in order to work as a Nurse Educator, it does take some time.

Typically, it can take up to ten years to work as a Nurse Educator.

Out of those ten years,  you will typically spend 6 years in school, and 4 years working to gain experience.

Q. What does a Nurse Educator do?

A Nurse Educator can be considered a teacher, but they are also nurses and are very knowledgeable about the medical field.

A Nurse Educator has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse and now wants to educate others on how to nurse.

They may work in classrooms, in clinical settings, and even in labs in order to help prospective nurses learn everything that they can.

Q. What is the demand for Nurse Educators?

There will always be a demand for Nurse Educators as long as there are nurses.

This is because they are the ones who know the most about the career, and teaching it to others is how the knowledge is passed along.

The demand for Nurse Educators is expected to grow within the next decade, and that means more job opportunities for people like you.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Nurse Educator?

The average Bachelor’s degree in the United States can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 depending on the school that was attended.

A typical Master’s degree program can range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 in itself.

This means that it can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 to become a Nurse Educator.

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