Nursing Instructor: Job Duties & Career Information

Learn about the work responsibilities of a registered nurse. Explore salary and educational requirements as well as employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

Career Definition for Nursing Instructors

Nursing instructors lead, develop, and organize teaching curricula and programs that will best prepare nurses for the current challenges of the profession. Their job, however, is not limited to the university classroom. They may work in clinics, community centers, or private health centers where they collaborate with medical professionals, design health or preventive science seminars, and offer training to medical staff, patients, or their families. They might also advance to leadership positions such as university department chairs or deans.

Required Education Bachelor's or graduate degree and current RN licensure
Job Skills Develop and organize curricula to prepare nurses for their profession; must have communication skills
Median Salary (2017)* $71,260 (postsecondary nursing instructors)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 24% (postsecondary nursing instructors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Smaller facilities may consider a qualified candidate with a bachelor's degree and a registered nurse (RN) license along with impressive field experience. However, most positions require a master's degree or even a doctoral degree in nursing or a related field, along with a current RN license. It's imperative for nursing instructors to have at least a year of medical/surgical experience in order to teach.

Required Skills

Whether it's guiding new students as they slowly gain confidence or helping professionals become better in their trade, this job requires not only specialized knowledge but also experience and understanding of the practice. Nursing instructors not only prepare new students for the medical profession, but also provide an active link between the community and medical field. Educators must be leaders in their community, excellent communicators, and researchers who are passionate about the profession and discoveries in the field of nursing.

Career and Economic Outlook

Enrollment in nursing programs has increased dramatically to keep up with new employment trends. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that postsecondary nursing instructors can expect a 24% increase in job openings from 2016 to 2026. Some employers offer excellent benefit packages to future nursing educators that include tuition waivers, study grants, and, in some cases, relocation assistance to qualified candidates. The BLS reported that in May 2017, the median annual salary among postsecondary nursing instructors was $71,260.

Alternative Careers

Similar career options in this field include:

Registered Nurse

Those wanting to provide health care to patients instead of teaching at a college or university should consider working as a registered nurse. The many duties of a nurse include delivering treatments and medicines, observing and controlling medical monitors, answering patient and family questions, recording information into patient files, and coordinating care plans with doctors. To enter the field, aspiring nurses can earn a nursing diploma or an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. They must also obtain licensure from the state where they work, and this usually involves meeting educational requirements and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses. During the 2016-2026 decade, the BLS predicted that employment opportunities for registered nurses will increase by 15%. As determined by the BLS in May of 2017, the median annual income of these nurses was $70,000.

Nurse Practitioner

If working in advanced nursing and performing duties such as prescribing medicines and selecting treatment plans sounds intriguing, consider becoming a nurse practitioner. Working under the direction of a physician, nurse practitioners examine patients, order diagnostic testing, give medical advice, and administer basic treatments. In addition to obtaining a registered nurse license, nurse practitioners must also earn a master's degree in the field and pass the certification exam before they can qualify for the required state license. In 2017, nurse practitioners earned a median yearly salary of $103,880, as seen in BLS data. The BLS also projects employment growth of 36% for these specialized nurses between 2016 and 2026.


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