Nursing Instructor

I. What They Do

Nurse instructors prepare students for careers across a spectrum of nursing specialties. They work in nursing diploma hospitals, nursing vocational schools and colleges and universities across the country.

Depending on educational level and professional background, nurse instructors may teach in 2- or 4-year diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree programs in nursing.

The National League of Nursing (NLN), which directs public policy in the industry, considers nursing instruction as an advanced practice specialty that requires many years of education and training.

Daily Responsibilities

  • Plan curriculum and syllabi based upon the goals and learning objectives of the nursing program
  • Prepare lectures, clinical demonstrations and projects for seminar and lab classes
  • Write, proctor and assess nursing examinations and evaluations
  • Provide feedback, coaching and consultation to students
  • Mentor students to help them find the right clinical specialty and research projects

Ideal Candidates

  • Experience in different types of clinical nursing roles
  • Highly knowledgeable and skilled in both the academic and clinical sides of nursing
  • Demonstrate passion for nursing education and nursing students
  • Easily communicate complex ideas in both spoken and written form
  • Set high expectations and reasonable goals for all students
  • Create a supportive and accessible classroom atmosphere

Work Environment

  • Community colleges
  • Four-year colleges and universities
  • Technical nursing schools
  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals

II. Career Outlook

The professional outlook for nursing instructors is very promising. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) calls the nation’s nursing faculty shortage an “emerging crisis” and is working to raise incentives and build development programs to attract more nurses to teaching. That means that not only is the need for nursing instructors set to grow in the coming decade, but so are the salaries they can command.

Job Growth

The anticipated growth in the number of nursing instructor positions through 2022 is an astounding 35%, far higher than most other professions. Clearly, nursing educators are well-positioned for long-term job security.

However, this faculty shortage is created by a dearth of nursing professionals who have earned a doctorate in nursing. Additionally, many current nursing instructors who do possess doctoral degrees intend to retire in the near future. This problematic gap in the nursing industry can only be addressed by professionals who are able to invest in postgraduate study.

Projected job growth for post-secondary nursing instructors between 2012-22: 35% (faster than the 19% growth projected for RNs and the 11% average for all positions)

Projected Job Growth for Nursing Instructors, 2012-2022

Metro Areas with Highest Number of Nursing Instructors Employed
Metro Area Number of Nursing Instructors Employed
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Accessed May 2014.
New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ 1,870
Philadelphia, PA 1,390
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL 1,130
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA 1,120
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 840

Nurse Instructor Salary

Nursing faculty can expect wages to reflect their academic credentials and professional backgrounds. Pay is consistent for nurse educators across universities, community colleges or clinical programs. Of course, you’ll earn more as a faculty member if you can teach a wide range of courses to students seeking LPN, RN or NP credentials.

2013 Average Salaries for Nursing Instructors, RNs, and NPs

States with the Highest Average Salaries for Nursing Instructors in 2013

III. How to Become One

Education Requirements

A Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) is generally a basic requirement for working in clinical practice education. And most universities that grant a BSN require professors to have earned doctoral-level credentials, although schools some may accept a Master of Nursing (MSN) if sufficient clinical experience is demonstrated.

In addition, all MSN and higher level nursing school graduates are required to log significant hours of clinical practice in a chosen specialty area. The number of hours differs with each school, though all require candidates to achieve subject mastery.

Ph.D. and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) candidates must not only spend considerable time in the clinical environment, but also must have executed original research in a chosen specialty.

Certification and Licensing Requirements

In additional to state licensing that is required for all working nurse professionals, there are other credentials that apply strictly to nurse educators. The National League for Nursing (NLN) offers the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential. This certification cements education as an advanced practice area in nursing.

Currently, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is driving an initiative to standardize the credentials of advance practice registered nurses (APRNs). The Council seeks to have all 50 states adopt a Consensus Model by 2015; this Model will be used as a benchmark to certify all APRNs going forward. Check your state’s progress with the Council or on our state nursing pages.