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How to Become a Nurse Educator

A three-day work week may sound good to a lot of people, but every nurse who works 12-hour shifts knows how exhausting it can be. RNs who are ready for a change of pace may want to consider a career as a nurse educator.

The first step in preparing for this high-demand career is to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education. The high demand for nurse educators means now is the time to get started.

Online degree programs such as the MSN in Nursing Education at Northeastern State University (NSU) prepare RNs as nurse educators at the advanced practice level. Students can graduate in as few as 12 months with the qualifications to teach in diploma, practical nursing, associate and baccalaureate degree nursing programs, as well as continuing education.

What Is the Job Outlook for Nurse Educators?

The nursing shortage is well-publicized. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of RNs is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028 — much faster than the average for all occupations.

But the demand for nurse educators is even higher. A list of the 30 fastest growing occupations includes some not-surprising occupations such as software developers. Also on that list? Nursing instructors and teachers.

An American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) fact sheet on faculty shortages helps explain the need for new nurse educators:

  • In 2018, over 75,000 qualified applicants were turned away from U.S. nursing schools (baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs). Most schools cited faculty shortages as a reason.
  • A 2018 survey of 872 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs showed 1,715 faculty vacancies.
  • An additional 138 faculty positions were needed to meet demand.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Educator?

Working RNs who have earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are already well on their way to becoming a nurse educator. In general, to become a nurse educator, RNs need to have:

  • An active nursing license
  • A few years of clinical experience
  • An advanced degree (a master’s or higher)

The authors of “Your Path to Becoming a Nurse Educator” (all nurse educators themselves) offer some tips for landing a nurse faculty position. For example, to gain teaching experience, they suggest seeking opportunities to serve as a mentor or clinical nurse preceptor.

How Much Do Nurse Educators Earn?

Nurse faculty positions offer quite a few perks. Flexible schedules, variety, a good amount of autonomy and an intellectually stimulating environment are just a few. Nurse faculty positions also come with better-than-average salaries.

The BLS puts the 2018 median annual salary for nurse educators at $73,490, with the top 10% earning $129,070. As another indication of salaries, PayScale reports an average salary of $93,000 (as of September 2019) for RNs with an MSN.

Meeting the nation’s serious need to educate more nurses means educating more RNs with the academic expertise to fill nurse faculty positions. Becoming a nurse educator is a chance to impact healthcare reform on a much wider scale.

Becoming a nurse educator offers an opportunity to empower new nurses to create positive change in their workplace culture. In turn, this can positively impact patients, the organization and the profession.

Learn more about NSU’s MSN in Nursing Education online program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses – Job Outlook

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Faculty Shortage

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections

Career Sphere: Your Path to Becoming a Nurse Educator

PayScale: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree

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