Becoming a nurse educator is a great way to stay involved in nursing without entering a clinical role as a nurse practitioner. Nurse educators are in high demand and will continue to grow in their job market as the current nursing generation retires and new nurses fill their place. Finding qualified educators to train these incoming nurses remains challenging for universities and health systems.
Pursuing a degree in nurse education provides the unique opportunity to continue transforming lives in the healthcare field without the physical and mental rigor that many registered nurses and nurse practitioners face. Whether you’re considering a career change or looking to advance or build on your career in nursing – becoming a nurse educator can put you in place to shape the future of nursing.
What does it take to become a nurse educator? These eight points will help guide you in your journey as you consider whether becoming a nurse educator is the right career choice.
Understand Your Role as A Nurse Educator
Nursing education is about more than teaching a procedure or helping check off boxes for a student. It’s about shaping our future nurses’ morals, values, and ethics. Whether you work in an academic setting like a university or a clinical setting like a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare setting – you will play an essential role for students seeking guidance and direction as they enter the field.
While each position varies, day-to-day tasks as a nurse educator may include:
- Designing program curriculum
- Preparing and presenting lectures and demonstrations
- Teaching clinical procedures and patient interaction
- Working with students in small or large discussion/working groups
- Administering and grading exams
Earn Your Undergraduate in Nursing
Today’s nurse educators must hold an advanced degree in nursing – a master’s degree or higher. A bachelor’s degree is usually required to enroll in most master’s level programs. A nursing degree is essential since nurse educators teach fundamental and advanced nursing skills. They must have a strong understanding of current nursing practice and skills within the industry.
For those who are already registered nurses but do not have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, earning a bachelor’s degree in Nursing will be required. Bridge programs, such as an RN-BSN program, can help you attain your degree faster and become a nurse educator sooner. If you are not already a nurse, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are also available for those with a bachelor’s degree. High School graduates and transfers can also explore Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing paths.
Build Experience in the Field
Before working in nursing education, getting real-world experience as a nurse is essential. By encountering various situations nurses may face, along with practicing and implementing the skills required by today’s nursing professionals, you will be better prepared to teach future nurses.
While every institution is different, a range of 3 – 5 years of experience as a practicing nurse is recommended. A nurse should have enough experience to be familiar with the classroom application of practice and know how to function in a real-world nursing environment.
Pursue a Master of Science in Nursing
With educational and vocational experience in hand – it is time to pursue a master’s degree in nursing. Depending on the institution, candidates may be able to choose a concentration in nursing education for their Master of Science in Nursing degree. Concentration programs provide a more guided approach than a generalized Master of Science in Nursing or Nursing Education Certificate can offer.
A nurse educator concentration provides two benefits to future nurse educators: first, It educates nurse educator students on advanced practice nursing skills that reinforce the fundamental skills registered nurses use and teaches core competencies in education, academics, research, and learning methods.
Before enrolling in any program, it is essential to review the core themes and outcomes of the program and make sure you understand both the commitment of time and money to the program.
Seek Additional Education Or Certifications If Required
Whether you have a concentration in nurse education or not, receiving additional certifications as a nurse educator can increase your marketability in the profession while impacting your earning potential.
The standard nurse educator certification-offered through the National League of Nurses– is the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) certificate. You could also earn a Certified Clinical Academic Nurse Educator Certificate. While an additional certification is not required. checking with specific regulations and potential employers before applying to any job can help guide the decision.
For Those Who Already Have A Master’s Degree
A nurse educator certificate is offered at the post-masters level for those interested but have already completed a separate Master of Science in Nursing program or have gone on to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This certificate can help refine your skillset and prepare you for proper certification. These programs are often shorter than a traditional master’s program.
How Much Will I Make As A Nurse Educator?
Since the career requires an advanced degree and, in some cases, additional certifications, a nurse educator’s salary is, on average, higher than that of a registered nurse. The average registered nurse in the U.S. makes between $59,390 and $106,520, with a median salary of $82,960. On the other hand, nurse educators make from $87,438 to $116,787, with a median salary of $104,662.
It is important to remember that salaries largely depend on education and work experience. Salary ranges can differ depending on the demand of a particular area, the field of education being entered, and other market and job trends. Nurse educators should consider these factors when browsing.
Here’s The Bottom Line
Becoming a nurse educator can offer a rewarding career in nursing that is different from direct patient care. At the same time, it may take a couple of years to become a nurse educator depending on where you’re positioned in your academic or vocational journey. Exploring your options is never too soon.