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How to Become a Nurse Educator in the US

nurses in school

Nursing educators are a breed of higher education teachers who instruct and nurture future nurses. If you are a person who loves sharing knowledge with other people, and you are prepared to work as a nurse before breaking into teaching, then this is a career you could enjoy.

What Do Nurse Educators Do?

Their duties include:

  • Preparing lesson plans and selecting instructional materials
  • Conducting lessons in classrooms and laboratories
  • Teaching courses such as nursing informatics, geriatric nursing and paediatric nursing
  • Administering examinations and assessing student performance
  • Preparing students for clinical practicums
  • Evaluating the curriculum for nursing courses and recommending changes
  • Staying abreast of new nursing methods and technologies
  • Conducting research on various nursing topics and publishing their findings.

Work Environment

Unlike clinical nurses who often work on shifts, nurse educators work normal college hours, 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. When they are not in classrooms or laboratories educating future nurses, they can be found in their offices reviewing students’ work.

Nurse educators are often expected to attend nursing conferences and other industry events. This means the job involves occasional travel.


What is the average annual salary for nurse educators? Find out below:

Job Title

Annual Wage

Nurse Educator (Master’s degree)



Educators who have a doctoral degree have a higher earning potential.

Education and Experience

It takes a combination of vast nursing experience and advanced nursing education to become a nursing educator. To join this profession, you must, therefore, complete the following steps:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Obtain a nursing license from your state’s board of nursing. For more information on state-specific licensing requirements, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing
  • Obtain employment and gain at least five years of nursing experience
  • Pursue a master’s degree in nursing education – Although you can get employed with a master’s degree, pursing a PhD significantly heightens your employment prospects.

Important Qualities

To be a nursing educator who can nurture competent nurses, you need:

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent instructional skills
  • Strong analytical skills for evaluating nursing programs
  • Strong planning skills
  • Strong research skills
  • Strong laboratory skills
  • Good presentation skills
  • Good computer skills
  • Good practical skills
  • Patience and resourcefulness
  • A sound understanding of national and local nursing education standards
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Good organization skills
  • The ability to adhere to nursing ethics
  • Good teamwork skills for collaborating with other nursing educators.

Career Progression

After getting hired, you should undertake the following development activities to improve your competence and advance your prospects:

  • Obtain the Certified Nurse Educator from the National League for Nursing (NLN)
  • Join a professional association, such as the NLN or Association of Community Health Nursing Educators

If you entered the profession with a master’s degree, this is the perfect time to go for a PhD.

Job Opportunities

The employers of nursing educators include:

  • Stand-alone nursing colleges
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Universities

With vast teaching experience, you could become a senior nurse educator, and later on advance into senior faculty positions, such as nursing dean.

According to, there is a high demand for nurse educators, since the country is facing a shortage of nurses. In fact, the website notes that as many as 80,000 nursing applicants are denied college admission simply because there aren’t enough educators.

So if you are passionate about imparting knowledge to others, and you possess a desire to educate the next generation of nurses, then maybe you can become a nurse educator.

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'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'

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