Skip to main content

5 Career Options for Nurse Educators

One of the primary reasons for the nursing shortage is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” situation. The U.S. needs more registered nurses (RN) to fill clinical positions, but there aren’t enough nurse educators to help RNs through their schooling and training.

Ultimately, whether the nursing shortage results more from a lack of educators or fewer licensed nurses in the field, finding a solution to both is the most pressing. Individuals pursuing a nurse educator career are progressing the field in ways they may not even know.

What Roles Do Nurse Educators Fill?

Opportunities for nurses in an educational role expand beyond “teachers.” These professionals can serve as mentors and guides, helping new and experienced nurses develop the skills to provide exceptional healthcare.

The following represent a few career tracks nurses can choose upon completing an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Nurse Educator program, like that offered by the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Salary information is current as of January 2024.

1. Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE)

A CNE is responsible for educating nursing staff in ways that improve the overall quality of patient care — whether relating to “procedural” care or a new directive from hospital administration. They often work within hospitals or clinics but may also teach in other environments (such as academia or virtually via webinar-type settings). CNEs also design the instructional curricula and programs they teach.

According to data from ZipRecruiter, CNEs earn an average salary of $94,727,

2. Nursing Instructor

Similar to a CNE in some respects, a nursing instructor is more likely to work in classroom and laboratory settings than in medical facilities. Like CNEs, they contribute to the curriculum. In addition, nursing instructors are responsible for staying abreast of developments in nursing to incorporate updates into their course content.

The average annual salary for a nursing instructor is $112,808.

3) Simulation Lab Instructor

Practice makes perfect, but there’s little room for error in clinical practice. That’s why simulation labs are so crucial for helping nursing students learn certain clinical applications in a “risk-free” environment. Simulation lab instructors guide students through processes and procedures, such as administering injections. They observe performance and provide feedback to improve nurses’ skills and knowledge.

Patience is one key characteristic these instructors must have, as the simulation lab is where it’s “okay” for nurses to make mistakes (but also learn from them).

Nurse educators in this role earn an average annual salary of $68,782, according to data from PayScale.

4) Nursing Education Consultant

As a nursing education consultant, the focus is on improving the programs and curriculum related to a specific aspect or function within nursing education — whether at an educational institution, health system or private organization.

Nurse education consultants advise other nurse educators and assist them in creating effective tools for progressing the nursing vocation. Essential skills among nursing education consultants include strong verbal and written communication and leadership.

According to data from ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a nursing education consultant is $104,000.

5) Dean of Nursing

While many institutions require a doctorate for employment as a dean of nursing, what matters most are advanced experience (both teaching and administrative) and leadership capabilities. Before pursuing this profession, nurses may build up their expertise in different nurse educator roles, such as those mentioned above. The primary responsibilities as dean of nursing include:

  • Provide leadership and counsel to faculty and students.
  • Monitor trends in nursing education.
  • Be an active research participant.
  • Ensure adherence to federal, state and university regulations.
  • Maintain accreditation standards.
  • Establish strategic partnerships with organizations (healthcare facilities, nursing associations and employment agencies).

According to data from PayScale, a dean of nursing earns an average annual salary of $115,390.

Nurse Educators: Leading the Future of Healthcare

Nurse educators are not just a “cog” in the educational system but an invaluable component of nursing.

In whatever capacity they serve, nurse educators foster personal and professional growth among their staff and students. They actively contribute to high-quality patient care. In essence, nurse educators are leading the future of healthcare with their expertise and efforts. Graduates of UNCW’s online MSN Nurse Educator program can join the effort to secure that future.

Learn more about UNCW’s online MSN Nurse Educator program.

Related Articles

Request Information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 855-306-4734

Take the next step

Start your application today!
Or call 855-306-4734 855-306-4734
for help with any questions you may have.