Nurse Educator: Job Description and Education Requirements

A nurse educator requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Nurse educators teach nursing curriculum to nursing students and educate the public on many healthcare topics. A registered nursing license and master's degree with nurse educator specialization is typically required. These professionals are also required to have prior nursing experience.

Essential Information

Nurse educators are licensed registered nurses who have received additional education at the master's degree level and beyond. Although they typically teach nursing curriculum in schools and colleges of nursing, they may also work in medical and public settings. Their duties may include supervising nursing students during clinical experiences, as well as educating the public and health professionals about various nursing issues. In addition to a degree and a license, they need several years of clinical nursing experience.

Required Education Master's degree in nursing with a specialization as a nurse educator
Licensing Registered nursing license required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary
Mean Salary (2015)* $73,150 for nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nurse Educator Job Description

In addition to classroom teaching, nurse educators who are employed by colleges and universities are responsible for developing and instituting curricula that meets the current demands of nursing. They also provide hands-on training supervision for their nursing students.

Instruction and training is not limited to educating nursing students at the college and university level. Nurse educators might find themselves training medical personnel at hospitals and healthcare clinics or educating the public on numerous healthcare topics.

Nurse educators working in clinical settings design educational programs for staff nurses, taking into account varying skill levels. They are often in charge of advocating for these educational programs, developing and managing budgets and securing funding.

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Education Requirements

Beyond the Bachelor's Degree

A search for nurse educator job openings on Monster.com showed that education requirements vary. Some employers required a nursing license along with a minimum of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), supported by 2-5 years of clinical experience. The MSN can generally be completed in 1-3 years, depending upon whether the individual has a bachelor's degree in nursing. Other employers would accept someone with a bachelor's degree and sufficient experience, but others required a doctoral degree.

Beyond the Master's Degree

One option for post-master's study is the nurse educator post-master's certificate. Curriculum is tailored toward teaching, curriculum development and instructional approaches. The certificate can usually be obtained in one semester, and allows nurses access to entry-level teaching jobs.

The doctoral degree is considered by the American Association of College of Nursing to be the appropriate credential for a career as a nurse educator at the highest level in a college or university (www.aacn.nche.edu). The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can take anywhere from one to four years to complete; a Ph.D. typically takes four years. Students will find programs available online and on campus.

Doctoral programs offer two areas of focus: research and practice. Ph.D. programs generally place emphasis on research, while practice is the main focus of DNP programs. Both programs center on nursing education. Coursework for either doctoral program might include a capstone project, advanced nursing, assessment and evaluation, curriculum development or a nurse educator practicum.

Employment Outlook and Salary

From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that postsecondary nursing teachers would see a 19% growth in employment, which is above average. The mean annual wages for nursing instructors and teachers were $73,150 in May 2015.

Nurse educators primarily teach nursing curriculum to nursing students. While some employers accept a bachelor's degree, a master's degree is typically required. Some nurse educators possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Ph.D.

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