Nurse Educator Job Description

Nursing education careers continue to boom as healthcare enters a new era of change. The rise in nursing education career opportunities is fueled by the strong demand for experienced, well-trained nurses. In the Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-11, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that careers in nursing will expand much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. And as healthcare facilities seek to hire new nurses, the need for qualified nurse educators is stronger than ever.

What Are Nurse Educators?

A nurse educator is a typically a registered nurse (RN) who holds a graduate-level degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an specialization in Nursing Education, along with the leadership and development skills to teach other nurses. A nurse educator career combines the clinical world of medicine with the rewarding field of teaching. Nurse educators help prepare the next generation of nurses in classroom settings as well as on the job in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They provide guidance and mentoring to new nurses, showing them how to deliver the best care possible and encouraging them to pursue RN, Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing degrees to advance their careers.

Nursing education careers can include roles as instructional or administrative faculty of universities and nursing schools, or hospital-based positions such as clinical nurse educator, staff development officer, continuing education specialist or patient education coordinator.

Nursing Education Career Duties

Nurses who pursue a nursing education career have a variety of job responsibilities, including:

  • Designing nursing education curricula
  • Teaching classroom and clinical courses
  • Grading coursework and evaluating clinical lab performance

In addition to classroom and clinical instruction in healthcare facilities, nurse educators who work in colleges and universities may also be responsible for:

  • Advising students
  • Performing research and publishing educational papers
  • Writing grant proposals
  • Participating in professional associations
  • Representing their educational institution at nursing conferences
  • Staying up-to-date with clinical trends

Just as there is a shortage of nurses relative to demand, there is a growing need among nursing schools for qualified nurse educators. The good news for those seeking a nurse educator career is that the shortage of nursing instructors can mean a high level of job security, as well as the opportunity to increase earnings by combining teaching duties with direct patient care. BLS studies also predict that employment of nurse educators will grow faster than average in the coming years, driven in part by retirement among instructors. Given the current job outlook, a nurse educator career will provide excellent advancement opportunities for those with advanced, specialized nursing education skills.

The Rewards and Challenges of a Nursing Education Career

A career as a nurse educator can have just as many rewards as challenges as a nursing career. Here are some things to consider when you make the decision to pursue an MSN in Nursing Education degree:


  • Compensation: According to BLS data published in May 2009, professionals who pursue nursing education careers as an instructor or teacher can expect to earn salaries between $38,200 and $99,220. Those employed in specialty hospitals and general medical/surgical hospitals earn average salaries of $103,500 and $76,140, respectively.
  • High-profile position: As a nurse educator, you have the opportunity to exercise your experience and knowledge every day as you train the highly skilled nurses of tomorrow.
  • Leadership opportunities: Both school and healthcare administrators will look to your nursing specialty expertise to attract the best and brightest students. A nursing educator career also gives you an opportunity to mentor students and directly showcase the benefits of an RN, BSN or MSN degree.


  • Accountability: When you pursue a nurse educator career, there’s no finger-pointing when something goes wrong. You take responsibility for your students, and your ability to teach the subject matter will be measured by their performance.
  • Seasonal work: Like most positions in academia, a nurse educator may only work during the nine-month school season. You may need to juggle a summer-school teaching position, part-time work in a hospital or clinic, or other job to supplement your income between school terms.

Earning an MSN in Nursing Education degree from an accredited, nationally recognized university gives you a wide range of nursing education career options and positions you for the best job opportunities and salaries. Apply for a nurse educator degree program today, and make a real difference in the future of nursing by training the nurses of tomorrow.

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