How to Become a Nurse Educator: A Step-by Step Guide

August 31, 2023

If you find yourself here, chances are you’ve spent considerable time as a practicing nurse and are contemplating a shift toward a teaching role.

Your years of experience in the field have given you a wealth of firsthand knowledge about nursing and a deep understanding of the unique circumstances and challenges that nurses encounter daily. This places you in an exceptional position to impart your wisdom and expertise to the next generation of nurses, actively shaping the future of the nursing profession.

How to Become a Nurse Educator: A Step-by Step Guide

This blog will provide you with all the essential information on how to become a nurse educator. So, if you possess a genuine passion for nursing and a burning desire to influence the healthcare landscape by educating and inspiring aspiring nurses, you’ve arrived at the perfect destination.

Whether you’re already a nurse or just starting your journey, we’ll explore the educational requirements, necessary skills, and career opportunities in this rewarding field. We will guide you through the essential steps and provide valuable insights to help you embark on a fulfilling career as a nurse educator.

Get ready to dive into the world of nursing education and discover how you can make a lasting impact on the healthcare profession.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Educator?

If you are an experienced nurse passionate about teaching and sharing your knowledge, stepping into the nurse educator role can be an extremely fulfilling experience.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Educator?

Becoming a nurse educator involves several important steps that can help you transition from a clinical nursing role to an educational one. Here are the key steps to consider:

Obtain a Nursing License

To become a nurse educator, you must first become a registered nurse (RN) by completing a nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Gain Clinical Experience

Gaining practical experience as a nurse is crucial before pursuing a teaching role. Work in different healthcare settings to broaden your knowledge and skills, as this will enhance your credibility as an educator.

Earn an Advanced Degree

Pursue higher education to acquire the necessary qualifications for a nurse educator position. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is typically required. Specializing in nursing education or obtaining a teaching certificate can be beneficial.

Gain Teaching Experience

Seek opportunities to teach in a clinical setting or as a guest lecturer. Teaching experience, whether through preceptorship, workshops, or academic institutions, will strengthen your teaching abilities and provide valuable exposure to the education field.

Obtain Certifications

Obtain Certifications

Consider obtaining certifications specific to nurse educators, such as the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN). Certification demonstrates your expertise and commitment to the field of nursing education.

Network and Collaborate

Engage with other nurse educators, attend conferences, and join professional organizations related to nursing education. Networking can provide valuable mentorship, learning opportunities, and potential job leads.

Pursue Suitable Employment Opportunities

Explore job openings at educational institutions, such as colleges, universities, and nursing schools. Additionally, consider staff development, continuing education, or academic administration roles.

Continuously Learn and Grow

Stay updated with current trends and advancements in nursing and education. Pursue professional development opportunities, attend conferences, and engage in research or scholarly activities to enhance your knowledge and contribute to the field.

Becoming a nurse educator requires dedication, continuous learning, and a genuine passion for teaching. Following these steps and staying committed to your professional development, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a nurse educator.

Roles and Responsibilities: What Does a Nurse Educator Do?

Nurse educators play a vital role in healthcare by combining their expertise as registered nurses with their passion for teaching and mentoring. Their primary responsibility is to educate and train aspiring nurses, current nursing professionals, and other healthcare personnel.

Roles and Responsibilities: What Does a Nurse Educator Do?

A nurse educator’s role extends beyond the traditional nursing practice and involves a range of responsibilities that contribute to developing and advancing nursing education. Here are some key roles and responsibilities of a nurse educator:

Curriculum Development

Nurse educators design, evaluate, and update nursing curricula to ensure they align with the latest evidence-based practices, healthcare policies, and regulatory standards. They analyze the educational needs of students and collaborate with other educators to create comprehensive and relevant nursing programs.

Classroom Instruction

Nurse educators deliver lectures, conduct interactive discussions, and facilitate learning experiences in various educational settings such as classrooms, simulation labs, and clinical practice sites. They use their clinical expertise to teach theoretical concepts, critical thinking skills, and clinical judgment required for nursing practice.

Clinical Supervision

Nurse educators provide clinical supervision and guidance to nursing students during their practical training in healthcare settings. They help students develop clinical skills, ensure patient safety, and foster a professional attitude. They may also evaluate students’ performance and provide constructive feedback for improvement.

Mentorship and Advising

Mentorship and Advising

Nurse educators serve as mentors and advisors to nursing students, guiding them throughout their educational journey. They offer support, encouragement, and career guidance to help students succeed academically and professionally. Nurse educators also provide resources and assistance for students facing challenges or seeking additional learning opportunities.

Continuing Education

Nurse educators facilitate continuing education programs for practicing nurses to enhance their knowledge and skills. They develop and deliver workshops, seminars, and online courses to address emerging trends, new technologies, and advancements in healthcare. By promoting lifelong learning, nurse educators contribute to the professional growth and development of the nursing workforce.

Research and Scholarship

Nurse educators engage in scholarly activities such as conducting research studies, publishing articles, and presenting at conferences. They contribute to the advancement of nursing knowledge and evidence-based practice. By staying updated with current research, nurse educators bring the latest information to the classroom and promote a culture of inquiry among their students.

Professional Development

Nurse educators invest in their own professional development by pursuing advanced degrees, attending conferences, and participating in professional organizations. They stay updated with changes in healthcare, educational methodologies, and regulatory requirements, ensuring they deliver the most relevant and up-to-date content to their students.

Collaboration and Leadership

Nurse educators collaborate with other healthcare professionals, educators, and stakeholders to improve nursing education. They actively participate in curriculum committees, faculty meetings, and professional organizations to influence policy, advocate for nursing education, and contribute to advancing the nursing profession.

How Much Do Nurse Educators Earn?

The salary of nurse educators can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, experience, the state and city, and the type of institution they work for.

How Much Do Nurse Educators Earn?

As of May 2022, the median annual salary for nursing instructors and teachers, including nurse educators, was reported as $84,180 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,760, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $127,290. It’s important to note that these figures represent the overall median for all nursing instructors and teachers, including those who are not exclusively nurse educators.

The best-paying states for nurse educators include Massachusetts, with annual mean salaries hovering around the $106,000 mark, followed by Nevada ($105,000), California ($104,000), and Washington, D.C. ($101,000).

Nurse educators typically work in academic institutions, such as colleges, universities, and nursing schools, and often have a salary range that aligns with faculty positions.

Also, nurse educators may have opportunities for additional income through consulting work, research grants, writing textbooks, and other scholarly activities. Many nurse educators may supplement their income by providing direct patient care. Moreover, salaries can vary based on the demand for nurse educators in a particular region and the cost of living in that area.

Pathways To Become a Nurse Educator

Pathways To Become a Nurse Educator

The path you take to becoming a nurse educator will depend on your specific circumstances and objectives. Let’s explore a few common routes that aspiring nurse educators may take to achieve their goals.

Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)

Students that complete the Master of Science in Nursing degree earn the advanced nursing degree credits necessary to qualify as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). You can achieve this master’s degree online to fit your schedule, which is extremely useful if you are already practicing.


A registered nurse to MSN program will allow you to specialize in your chosen field, nurse education. You will need at least an associate degree in nursing to enter such a program, and some institutions even demand that you have a bachelor’s degree and an active registered nurse license.

Look up online RN to MSN programs if you are already working and can’t attend a full-time college.

Post-Graduate Degree

You can earn a post-graduate certification focusing on nurse education or another specialization from an accredited educational institution. Most such programs will include a gap analysis to help guide you toward the ideal classes for you to take.

To qualify for post-graduate nursing education programs, students should have completed a master’s or doctoral degree. Completing a post-graduate degree can help prepare you for the CNE or CNEcl® certifications.

Doctor of Nursing

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the highest degree you can earn in nursing. Pursuing this track requires an active registered nurse license and an MSN degree. You can also opt to earn this degree through an online program to fit it into your schedule if you are currently working.


The main benefit of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program is that it allows you to earn your master’s degree alongside the DNP certification. This track can help you save a substantial amount of time and money, as you don’t need to invest resources toward earning a master’s degree separately.


Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





How long does it take to become a nurse educator?

It can take between 6 and 10 years to become a nurse educator. However, a licensed nurse with a bachelor’s degree requires at least two years of studying at the master’s degree level to earn their nurse educator certification.

Becoming a nurse educator typically requires significant education and experience in the nursing field. The path and timeline to becoming a nurse educator can vary depending on individual circumstances, educational choices, and career goals. Here’s a general outline of the steps involved:

  • Complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree (around 4 years).
  • Gain clinical experience as a registered nurse (2-5 years).
  • Obtain a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) with a focus on nursing education (around 2 years).
  • Gain teaching experience, such as through teaching assistantships or adjunct faculty positions.
  • Optional: Pursue a doctoral degree in nursing, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in Nursing (2-5 years).

Are Nurse Educators in Demand?

Yes. Alongside the existing national shortage of qualified nurses, there is also a growing demand for certified nurse educators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that over 276,000 new positions for registered nurses will be created over the next decade, and as this demand rises, so will the need for qualified nurse educators.

What is the difference between a nurse educator and a nurse administrator?

While a nurse educator is primarily responsible for helping future nurses develop their skills and tackle the challenges they may face in the workplace, nurse administrators deal with the recruitment and supervision of nurses and other healthcare professionals. They are also responsible for creating work schedules for practicing nurses and conducting performance reviews.

What are the objectives of a nurse educator?

The objectives of a certified nurse educator include teaching student nurses to prepare them for the challenges they may face in the field and ensuring that they have the necessary clinical skills required to provide the highest standard of care to their patients. Nurse educators help to shape the future of the nursing profession.

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