Becoming a nurse educator is a great way to get involved in advanced practice nursing without becoming 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 adequately qualified educators to train these incoming nurses remains a challenge.
Pursuing nurse education provides the opportunity to continue transforming lives in the healthcare field without the physical and mental rigor that many registered nurses face. Whether you’re considering a career change or looking to advance your career in nursing – becoming a nurse educator can put you in place to shape the future of nursing.
Are you interested in becoming a nurse educator? Continue reading to explore your career path towards this rewarding career.
Understand your role as a nurse educator
Becoming a nurse educator 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 – 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 curriculum
- Preparing and presenting lectures
- Teaching clinical procedures and patient interaction
- Working with students in small or large discussion groups
- Administering exams
Earn your undergraduate in nursing
Today’s nurse educators are required to 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. Since nurse educators teach fundamental and advanced nursing skills, holding a degree in nursing is essential.
If you are not already a nurse, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are also available for career changers who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field.
Build experience in the field
Before becoming a nurse educator, it is important to get real-world experience as a nurse. By encountering various situations nurses may face, along with practicing and implementing the skills required by today’s registered nurses, you will be better prepared to teach future nurses.
While every academic institution is different, a range of 3 – 5 years 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 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 nurse education, providing a more guided approach than a general master’s in nursing can offer.
A nurse educator concentration provides two benefits to future nurse educators. It educates nurses on advanced practice nursing skills that reinforce registered nurses’ fundamental skills while teaching core competencies in education, academics, research, and learning methods.
Before enrolling in any program, it is important 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 and earning potential.
The standard 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 earning an additional certificate is not required to become a nurse educator, check with specific state regulations and with potential employers before applying to any job.
For those who already have a master’s degree
A nurse educator certificate program could refine your skillset if you already have a master’s degree. Typically designated at the post-master degree level, a nurse educator certificate is a faster, shorter way to becoming a nurse educator than through a specific concentration.
How much will I make as a nurse educator?
Since becoming a nurse educator 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. 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 specific states, counties, and cities. Consider these factors when browsing average nurse educator salaries and when negotiating a salary during job hiring.
Here’s the bottom line
Becoming a nurse educator can offer a rewarding career in nursing that is different from direct patient care. While it may take a couple of years to become a nurse educator, depending on where you’re positioned in your academic or vocational journey, it’s never too soon to explore your options.