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Nurse Educator Job Description

August 31, 2021  |  Category: Nursing

A nurse educator in a classroom.


The demand for nursing professionals is growing faster than most other sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects 7% growth in demand from 2019-2029 for registered nurses. Complicating that demand is a shortage of nursing faculty, which includes nurse educators. The BLS projects growth of postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers to grow 18% between 2019 and 2029.

Building a nursing professional pipeline is essential to a strong, resilient healthcare system, and nurse educators play a vital role in educating the next generation of nursing staff. A survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showed a 7.2% faculty vacancy rate in nursing schools around the country. In 2019, nursing colleges turned away more than 80,400 qualified applicants for lack of faculty, classroom space, and other resources.

A Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education is the first step to help meet the demand for nursing professionals and develop training programs for the next generation of nurses.

What Is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators develop and design teaching programs and teach classes, labs, and other trainings. They assess the effectiveness of nursing education degree programs and track students’ progress. Nurse educators may work part time or full time as teaching faculty at a university, community college, or trade school and continue working as nurses providing care.

Nurse educators generally fall into two categories:

Nurse Educator Job Description

A nurse educator may work in a hospital or other healthcare facility or in a university or teaching hospital. They guide the training and education of the nursing staff. They also work with hospital management to establish professional education goals and metrics. They may also conduct educational research or research into cutting-edge clinical practices.

Nursing Instructor Job Description

A nursing instructor works in a college, community college, or trade school. They provide nursing instruction to students who are interested in becoming nurses. They teach classes and conduct labs and other training exercises. They develop courses and grade students on their work.

How to Become a Nurse Educator

Requirements for nurses who are interested in gaining a nurse educator certificate vary depending on the program and setting — a research hospital or university will likely require a doctorate, for instance. Many programs in nurse education require the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • A nursing license and clinical experience, often at least two years
  • A master’s degree or higher in nursing or nursing education

Earning a graduate certificate in nursing education can help aspiring nurse educators move toward their ideal teaching position, especially for those who already have a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing.

Why Become a Nurse Educator?

The healthcare sector relies on well-trained nurses to provide quality care to patients. Nurses work in every healthcare setting, and most patients interact more with nursing staff than with doctors. However, there’s a nursing shortage across the U.S., according to Nurse Journal, driven by an aging population needing more care, and a high rate of retirement among nurses.

Even though nursing school enrollment is up, it can’t keep up with demand. This is partly due to the lack of nursing faculty, among other shortfalls. One way to meet that demand is to train more nurse educators.

The following are some of the opportunities available to nurse educators:

Guiding the Next Generation

Nurse educators find a fulfilling career in training the next generation of nurses. They teach, mentor, and train new nurses and help guide their profession. Most nurse educators have a clinical specialty, and teaching is a way to pass on their expertise to students.

Conducting Research and Influencing the Profession<

Nursing faculty in universities or at teaching hospitals have the opportunity to conduct research and write papers on teaching and training new nurses. In this way, they can have a significant influence on how nurses are prepared for their careers, helping to meet current and future challenges in healthcare.

Working Toward Health Equity

Some of the most important issues facing the healthcare industry, and nursing in particular, are concerns about health equity and diversity within the profession. Nurse educators can take the lead in addressing disadvantaged communities’ lack of access to quality healthcare. Increasing diversity in the profession as well as among nursing faculty will also prepare nurses for working with a wide range of patient communities and help eliminate cultural barriers to healthcare.

Career Advancement and Flexibility 

Nurse educators work in a variety of settings — universities and colleges, teaching hospitals, research organizations, and health organizations. They conduct research, help develop professional policy, and participate in initiatives to advance the profession. Whether they are adjunct (contract) faculty or full-time, tenured, or tenure-track professors, they reap the benefits of a flexible teaching schedule.

Nurse Educator Salary

The median annual salary of postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers was $75,470 in 2020, according to the BLS. Salaries can range depending on years of experience and type of employer. For instance, the median wage of nurse educators was approximately $77,000 in June 2021, according to PayScale data, but the median salary of experienced nurse educators was about $86,600.

The median salary of nursing instructors was approximately $64,000 in June 2021, according to PayScale; for experienced nursing instructors, the median salary was about $84,000.

Become a Nurse Educator

Now that you know the basics about the nurse educator job description, don’t hesitate to learn more. If you are excited about the prospect of sharing your clinical experience with new nursing professionals and influencing the future of the nursing profession, AdventHealth University’s online Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education, with its focus on learning theory, informatics, and evaluations, can help you start on the path to becoming an educator. Find out how you can make a difference in the industry and your career.

Recommended Readings

BSN vs. MSN: What’s the Right Path for You?

How to Become a Nursing Instructor

Tips for Registered Nurses Applying to Nursing School

American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Faculty Shortage

Campaign for Action, “Transforming Nursing Education to Achieve Health Equity”
National League for Nursing, Nurse Educator Core Competencies
Nurse Education Today, “Developing Work Readiness in Graduate Nurses Undertaking Transition to Practice Programs: An Integrative Review”
PayScale, Average Late-Career Nurse Educator Salary

PayScale, Average Late-Career Nursing Instructor Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Careers for Nurses: Opportunities and Options”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Teachers

U.S. News & World Report, “$3.8M Grant Aims to Fill Nurse Educator Gap