According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree is essentially required for those who wish to become nursing administrators. Smaller medical centers or clinics, however, may accept a 4-year degree in nursing combined with experience in the field.
Those seeking to become nursing administrators can gain on-the-job experience by serving as a supervisory registered nurse before pursuing their master's degrees and beginning a career in nursing administration. Some online programs are offered.
Master's in Nursing Administration
A program resulting in a Master of Science in Nursing Administration is open to nurses who wish to advance to an administrative position. Therefore, applicants need a bachelor's degree in nursing and related work experience. The curriculum for this type of master's degree program builds on that work experience by focusing on management, leadership, research and health care policy concepts. Program coursework might include:
- Organizational theory
- Health care management
- Financial management
- Health care ethics
- Administrative decision-making
- Health care planning
Master of Business Administration
Some programs combine a Master of Science in Nursing with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Courses will address healthcare management, nursing management development, managerial economics, nursing operations and organizational theory. Required courses might include:
- Managerial accounting
- Business finance
- Financial management
- Marketing management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS reports that medical and health services managers make a mean annual wage of $106,070 as of May 2015. The job outlook for these careers from 2014 to 2024 is expected to grow 17%, which is much faster than average for all other occupations.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Nurse Executive, Advanced certification. One must meet certain educational requirements and complete 30 hours of nursing administration continuing education to qualify for this exam. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) offers two certifications for nursing administrators. One can choose the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) or the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential. The latter credential is offered through the AONE's partnership with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).
Seminars in nursing administration and management are offered as part of the curriculum in some master's degree programs. The ANCC and AONE provide workshops, seminars and other continuing education opportunities. Some organizations provide nursing management and nursing administration annual conferences. These conferences supply networking opportunities, advisory panels and breakout sessions.
Nursing administration programs are available at the graduate level, with more general nursing education recommended for interested undergraduates. Students who graduate from nursing administration programs can pursue certification through several organizations to boost their employment prospects.