Career Info
Our Mission

Our Members

Our Sponsors

Sponsorship Info

Career Info

Resource Info

Education Info

Campaign News

Our Honorary Chairs

Contact Us



Nurse educators combine clinical expertise and a passion for teaching into rich and rewarding careers. These professionals, who work in the classroom and the practice setting, are responsible for preparing and mentoring current and future generations of nurses. Nurse educators play a pivotal role in strengthening the nursing workforce, serving as role models and providing the leadership needed to implement evidence-based practice.

Nurse educators are responsible for designing, implementing, evaluating and revising academic and continuing education programs for nurses. These include formal academic programs that lead to a degree or certificate, or more informal continuing education programs designed to meet individual learning needs.

Nurse educators are critical players in assuring quality educational experiences that prepare the nursing workforce for a diverse, ever-changing health care environment. They are the leaders who document the outcomes of educational programs and guide students through the learning process.

Nurse educators are prepared at the master's or doctoral level and practice as faculty in colleges, universities, hospital-based schools of nursing or technical schools, or as staff development educators in health care facilities. They work with recent high school graduates studying nursing for the first time, nurses pursuing advanced degrees and practicing nurses interested in expanding their knowledge and skills related to care of individuals, families and communities.

Nurse educators often express a high degree of satisfaction with their work. They typically cite interaction with students and watching future nurses grow in confidence and skill as the most rewarding aspects of their jobs. Other benefits of careers in nursing education include access to cutting-edge knowledge and research, opportunities to collaborate with health professionals, an intellectually stimulating workplace and flexible work scheduling.

Given the growing shortage of nurse educators, the career outlook is strong for nurses interested in teaching careers. Nursing schools nationwide are struggling to find new faculty to accommodate the rising interest in nursing among new students. The shortage of nurse educators may actually enhance career prospects since it affords a high level of job securityand provides opportunities for nurses to maintain dual roles as educators and direct patient care providers.


A nurse educator is a registered nurse who has advanced education, including advanced clinical training in a health care specialty. Nurse educators serve in a variety of roles that range from adjunct (part-time) clinical faculty to dean of a college of nursing. Professional titles include Instructional or Administrative Nurse Faculty, Clinical Nurse Educator, Staff Development Officer and Continuing Education Specialist among others.

Nurse educators combine their clinical abilities with responsibilities related to:

  • Designing curricula
  • Developing courses/programs of study
  • Teaching and guiding learners
  • Evaluating learning
  • Documenting the outcomes of the educational process.

Nurse educators also help students and practicing nurses identify their learning needs, strengths and limitations, and they select learning opportunities that will build on strengths and overcome limitations.

In addition to teaching, nurse educators who work in academic settings have responsibilities consistent with faculty in other disciplines, including:

  • Advising students
  • Engaging in scholarly work (e.g., research)
  • Participating in professional associations
  • Speaking/presenting at nursing conferences
  • Contributing to the academic community through leadership roles
  • Engaging in peer review
  • Maintaining clinical competence
  • Writing grant proposals

A growing number of nurse educators teach part-time while working in a clinical setting. This gives them the opportunity to maintain a high degree of clinical competence while sharing their expertise with novice nurses. Nurse educators who work in practice settings assess the abilities of nurses in practice and collaborate with them and their nurse managers to design learning experiences that will continually strengthen those abilities.


In most instances, nurse educators teach clinical courses that correspond with their area(s) of clinical expertise and the concentration area of their graduate nursing education program. Those considering a teaching career may choose from dozens of specialty areas, including acute care, cardiology, family health, oncology, pediatrics and psychiatric/mental health.

In addition, nurse educators teach in areas that have evolved as "specialties" through personal experience or personal study, such as leadership or assessment. The true specialty of a nurse educator is his or her expertise in teaching/learning, outcomes assessment, curriculum development and advisement/guidance of the learner.


Nurse educators need to have excellent communication skills, be creative, have a solid clinical background, be flexible and possess excellent critical thinking skills. They also need to have a substantive knowledge base in their area(s) of instruction and have the skills to convey that knowledge in a variety of ways to those who are less expert.

Nurse educators need to display a commitment to lifelong learning, exercise leadership and be concerned with the scholarly development of the discipline. They should have a strong knowledge base in theories of teaching, learning and evaluation; be able to design curricula and programs that reflect sound educational principles; be able to assess learner needs; be innovative; and enjoy teaching.

Those who practice in academic settings also need to be future-oriented so they can anticipate the role of the nurse in the future and adapt curriculum and teaching methods in response to innovations in nursing science and ongoing changes in the practice environment. They need advisement and counseling skills, research and other scholarly skills, and an ability to collaborate with other disciplines to plan and deliver a sound educational program.

Nurse educators who practice in clinical settings need to anticipate changes and expectations so they can design programs to prepare nurses to meet those challenges. They need to be able to plan educational programs for staff with various levels of ability, develop and manage budgets, and argue for resources and support in an environment where education is not the primary mission.

Practice Settings:

While nurses who care for patients in any setting engage in patient teaching, nurse educators typically practice in the following settings:

  • Senior colleges and universities
  • Junior or community colleges
  • Hospital-based schools of nursing
  • Technical colleges
  • Hospitals
  • Community health agencies
  • Home care agencies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Online using distance learning technology.

Within the school setting, there are as many options as there are schools. Educators may teach on a rural, suburban or urban campus; at a major private university or local community college; as part of a certificate program in a teaching hospital; or as a research coordinator in a doctoral program.

Salary Range:

Nurse educators working in academic settings typically are on a nine-month appointment (e.g., September through May). Opportunities to teach in the summer often are available, and this is compensated separately. Salaries vary greatly depending on rank, education (e.g., master's or doctorate degree), and institution type (e.g., a large academic health center vs. a small liberal arts college). The most lucrative positions are available to doctorally-prepared faculty in public nursing institutions

In 2002, full-time nurse educators with a nine-month appointment earned salaries ranging between $25,000 and $100,000+. On average, full-time nurse faculty with a doctoral degree earned $61,000 in 2002-2003 while faculty with a master's degree earned $49,000.

For those devoted to a career in nurse education, employment in a leadership and administrative role may be of interest. Many nursing school deans can earn more than $100,000 in a calendar year. In 2002-2003, the typical associate dean with a doctorate earned between $93,442 and $111,036 while assistant deans, on average, earned between $71,857 and $92,469.


At a minimum, nurse educators who work in academic settings must hold a master's degree. In order to be promoted to the upper academic ranks (e.g., associate professor and professor) and to be granted tenure, academic faculty typically must hold an earned doctoral degree. Nurse educators who work in clinical settings must hold the minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing, but more and more institutions are requiring the master's degree for such appointments.

Many master's degree and post-graduate certificate programs are available to prepare nurses specifically for the educator role. These programs, which are sometimes offered online, focus on the skills needed to prepare advanced practice nurses to teach, including instruction on the learning process, curriculum development, student counseling, program evaluation, and the principles of adult education.

Dozens of baccalaureate-to-PhD programs also are available for nurses prepared with a bachelor of science in nursing degree looking to pursue doctoral preparation. These programs, which include intense clinical experiences, attempt to move students through graduate level study at an accelerated pace.

Many federal and private sources of funding exist to assist students looking to pursue graduate nursing education. The recently passed Nurse Reinvestment Act includes a student loan repayment program for nurses who agree to serve in faculty roles after graduation. Similar programs also are available through the National Health Service Corps and the Bureau of Health Professions.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing
One Dupont Circle, #530
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 463-6930

American Society for Training and Development
1640 King Street, Box 1443
Alexandria, VA 22313
(703) 683-8100

National League for Nursing
61 Broadway, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10006
(800) 669-1656

National Nursing Staff Development Organization
7794 Grow Drive
Pensacola, FL 32534
(800) 489-1995


Journal for Nurses in Staff Development

Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

Journal of Nursing Education

Journal of Professional Nursing

Nurse Educator

Nursing Education Perspectives