Where Can I Work After Becoming a Nurse Educator?

Where do Nurse Educators Work?
Where do Nurse Educators Work?

Are you wondering what you can do with an MSN in nursing education? Nurse educators are in high demand and have diverse opportunities to change lives and influence quality health care.

Read on for an overview of what you can expect after becoming a nurse educator. You'll learn about the career outlook, different nurse educator roles, work settings, plus how to start your journey in the University of Indianapolis's online nurse educator MSN program.

What is a Nurse Educator?

A nurse educator is a nurse who teaches and prepares new nurses or advances the development of practicing health care providers.

The role allows nurses to combine their clinical expertise and passion for teaching. Nurse educators are prepared to:

  • Facilitate learning, learner development, and socialization.
  • Use assessment and evaluation strategies.
  • Design curriculum and evaluate program outcomes.
  • Affect change through leadership.
  • Pursue continuous quality improvement.
  • Engage in scholarship.
  • Effectively communicate and collaborate in interprofessional relationships.

Nurse educators shape the future of health care. They help ensure qualified nursing talent, evidence-based practice, and quality patient outcomes.

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?

There are a variety of nurse educator roles across academia, health care, and government.

Academia is the top employer of nurse educators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 9 in 10 nurse educators work in academic settings such as colleges, universities, and professional schools.

Most other nurse educators practice in private and government-owned health care settings, including:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Nursing and residential care facilities

Nurse educators can also work in both academia and health care. It's a flexible role that allows nurses to teach part-time while providing direct patient care.

What Are Nurse Educator Roles and Responsibilities?

If you’re curious about what you can do with an MSN in nursing education, the answer is—a lot.

The specific duties of nurse educators vary by job and practice setting. Here are just a few opportunities across academia and health care:

Nurse Educators in Academia 

Nurse educators working in academia are responsible for educating the next generation of nurses.

Their roles include teaching, advising, research, and leadership. They teach courses, mentor students, develop and evaluate curriculum, and more.

Job titles include in academia include:

  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Dean of Nursing Program
  • Nursing Curriculum Coordinator
  • Nursing Instructor
  • Professor of Nursing
  • Simulation Nurse Educator

Nurse Educators in Health Care

In clinical settings, nurse educators provide education, guidance, and mentorship. They help ensure that nurses and other health care providers are prepared to deliver quality and safe patient care. 

For example, a nurse educator in health care might transition new nurses into the professional setting or teach health care providers about practice changes.

Job titles in health care include:

  • Clinical Nurse Preceptor
  • Clinical Nursing Consultant
  • Clinical Practice and Education Specialist
  • Director of Nursing Professional Development
  • Continuing Education Coordinator
  • RN Education Specialist

demand for nurse educators

What is the Demand for Nurse Educators?

Now is an excellent time to start your career in nursing education.

A Nurse educator is among the top 100 fastest-growing jobs in the country. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS estimates that employment will grow by 22%, almost three times faster than the average pace for all occupations.

The U.S. has a persistent shortage of nursing faculty that is hurting the nursing workforce. In 2020, there were almost 1,500 vacant nurse educator positions. Because of insufficient faculty, nearly half of baccalaureate nursing programs said they turned away qualified candidates.

So what’s behind the shortage? Survey responses collected by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) point to these factors:

  • Insufficient Funds: Academic institutions do not have enough funding to pay nurse educator wages.
  • Recruiting Challenges: The market for nurse educators is competitive. Colleges and universities have reported that higher compensation in health care settings lures nurse educators away.
  • Faculty Retirement: Data indicate that approximately one-third of nursing faculty will likely retire by 2025.
  • Lack of Qualified Candidates: Nursing education programs are not producing enough graduates to meet the demand.

The good news is that aspiring nurse educators like you have an opportunity to make a positive difference. You can play a critical role in preparing and developing the next generation of nurses.

What are Nurse Educator Salaries?

Nurse educators earn considerable compensation.

According to the BLS, the median and average salaries are $75,470 and $84,060, respectively. The top quarter of nurse educators earns over six figures.

Multiple factors will affect your salary, including your educational background and years of experience. Another key is where you work.

Generally, the average pay for nurse educators is higher in health care than in academia.

Work Setting Average Nurse Educator Salary
General Hospital $119,050
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospital $95,430
Colleges and Universities $84,320
Technical and Trade Schools $75,990
Junior Colleges $75,190

Source: BLS

The state where you work can also make a difference. Nurse educators earn more on the East and West Coasts—and in Indiana.

The ten states with the highest average nurse educator salaries are:

  1. District of Columbia: $101,950
  2. California: $98,220
  3. New York: $92,150
  4. Connecticut: $91,030
  5. New Jersey: $90,610
  6. Massachusetts: $88,560
  7. Florida: $88,030
  8. Indiana: $85,640
  9. Rhode Island: $84,530
  10. Alaska: $82,670

How to Become a Certified Nurse Educator

Certification is not required to practice nursing education but can offer a competitive edge. According to the National League for Nursing (NLN), certification “establishes nursing education as a specialty area of practice” in which nurse educators can demonstrate their expertise.

To become a certified nurse educator, you’ll need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a current, unencumbered RN license.

Once you meet these eligibility criteria, you will need to obtain a graduate degree in nursing education followed by national nurse educator certification. Then you can search for nurse educator roles.

Nursing Education Degrees

Earning a graduate degree in nursing education will expand your options for national certification and employment.

Only nurses with a graduate degree in nursing education qualify for certification without meeting additional experience requirements. A minimum of a nurse educator MSN is also a necessity for many nurse educator jobs.

As a BSN-prepared nurse, you can obtain a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice in nursing education.

Earning a nurse educator MSN will prepare you for various teaching and administration roles in nursing education. Most nurse educator MSN programs take 18 to 24 months of full-time study.

A DNP is ideal if you want to pursue faculty tenure or senior leadership roles in nursing education. DNP programs require a minimum of three years of full-time study.

Nursing education programs consist of practicum hours and coursework covering topics such as instructional technology, nursing research design, and program design, delivery, and evaluation. DNP candidates will also complete a scholarly project.

Nurse Educator Certifications

Earning a graduate degree in nursing education will prepare you for certification from the NLN.

The NLN offers three types of certification for nurse educators:

  • Certified Nurse Educator (CNE®): Designed for academic nurse educators who facilitate learning in nursing schools.
  • Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE®cl): Designed for nurse educators who facilitate student learning during the clinical components of academic nursing programs.
  • Certified Academic Nurse Educator Novice (CNE®n): Designed for new nurse educators with less than three years of nursing education experience.

The CNE®n is a non-renewable credential so that nurse educators advance to higher levels of certification.

Nurse Educator Employment

Certified nurse educators have plenty of job opportunities. In addition to tapping your professional networks, you can also find employment by searching these online job boards:

Prepare to Improve and Influence Nursing as a Nurse Educator

You already know what it takes to be a great nurse. With the shortage of nurse educators, you have an unprecedented opportunity to share your knowledge with the next generation of nurses.

You could be prepared to leave your mark for decades to come—in as little as three years—by earning an online MSN in Nursing Education from the University of Indianapolis.

As a student, you will benefit from a top-tier education, a culture of service and inclusion, and comprehensive student support: 

  • Complete your nursing education in a nationally ranked program with 100% online coursework, competitively priced tuition, and state and national recognition for quality outcomes.
  • Develop as a competent, caring, and compassionate nurse educator through service-oriented experiences woven throughout the inclusive program.
  • Get personal help and guidance from your student success advisor and caring, accessible faculty.


Learn more about the University of Indianapolis’s online MSN Nurse Educator program