Nurse Educator Career and Degree Guide


Certified Nurse Educator Salaries and Job Growth

nurse educator presenting to healthcare professionals
nurse educator giving presentation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says certified nurse educators (CNEs) earn a median annual salary of $77,440 for roles that include training in clinical practice, classroom instruction at community colleges and universities, or executive oversight of academic nursing programs and faculty.

If you are thinking about a career as a nurse educator, now is a good time to consider your options. A current shortage of nurse educators is expected to fuel job growth of 9% over the next 10 years, just above the 8% forecast for all occupations.

Overview

The BLS classifies nurse educators who teach at colleges, medical and surgical hospitals, and technical, trade, and business schools as “postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers”—and “there are simply not enough of them to meet the nation’s needs,” says Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the National League for Nursing (NLN).

In a recent survey of nursing schools by the NLN, 74% of respondents indicated they had difficulty filling faculty positions, and many remained unfilled.

U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants to undergraduate and graduate programs in 2020.

According to Robert Rosseter, chief communications officer for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants to undergraduate and graduate programs in 2020, and most indicated that faculty shortages were a top reason.

All of which means that if you want to be a nurse educator, the odds are in your favor.

Salary Range

While the median annual wage for nurse educators is $77,440, the BLS says salaries can range from $47,630 to $125,930, depending on factors such as:

  • Your education
  • Your experience
  • Where you live
  • Where you work

The dean of a nursing school at a highly regarded university located in a major metro area, who likely has a doctorate, may earn a salary at the top range of the pay scale, while an instructor at a community college may earn less.

Salary Comparison: Nurse Educator vs Careers that Require Postgraduate Education

Here’s a look at how the average salary for a nurse educator compares with pay for nursing positions that require either a master’s or a doctorate.

Career Median Annual Salary
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary $77,440
Nurse Anesthetists $195,610
Nurse Midwives $112,830
Nurse Practitioners $120,680

Demand for Nurse Educators

In addition to the shortage of teachers, there are two other important factors driving the forecast of 18% job growth:

Teacher retirements

According to the NLN, 70% of full-time nurse educators are over the age of 45, and a significant number are nearing retirement age. This is expected to create even more vacancies at colleges and universities.

Nurse shortage

By 2024, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of nearly one million nurses, “from entry-level RNs to the most senior and experienced nursing specialists,” says Joseph Dunmire, a board member of the National Association of Healthcare Recruitment. “Finding nurses to fill all of those roles will be problematic.”

To minimize this shortage, more nurse educators will be needed to teach, inspire, and mentor the next generation of nurses.

Competition for Jobs

The demand for nurse educators may be high, but there could be some competition for jobs because employers tend to look for the best and most qualified candidates.

Donna R. Swope, MS, RN, an adjunct professor of nursing at Stevenson University, says that taking the follow steps can make you a stronger nurse educator when you graduate and enhance your resume:

If you are on an educator track, stay in clinical nursing to graduate with the latest knowledge of clinical trends.

To practice your teaching skills, take every opportunity to work with nursing students at any level. For example: Accept a student to work with you when you are the primary nurse, or serve as a preceptor for seniors in their final clinical practicum or for new hires.

To gain experience working on policy issues, become a member of the professional nursing organization for your specialty and work to help frame policies to enhance patient care and influence cultural attitudes toward students and new nurses.

“Honestly, the core of all this is that we want educators who, while still in their clinical role, light up at the prospect of working with students,” Swope says. “It can’t be just that someone can deliver compelling class content, although of course we want that, too.”

Location, Location, Location

Another factor to consider is geographic location. If moving is an option, consider cities where jobs are more plentiful. This may increase your chances of landing your dream teaching position—and increasing your salary.

Top-Paying Metro Areas

These are the highest-paying metro areas in the country for nurse educators.

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
Visalia-Porterville, CA $143,840
Charlottesville, VA $103,890
Dover, DE $103,520
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $100,120
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $99,020
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $99,000
Urban Honolulu, HI $98,970
Ann Arbor, MI $98,730
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO $98,720
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA $98,410

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Metro Areas with the Highest Employment

These five metro areas have the highest number of nurse educators.

New York—Newark, New Jersey—Jersey City, New Jersey

Average Salary for Nurse Educators

$100,970

Number of Nurse Educators Employed

4,760

Philadelphia—Camden, New Jersey—Wilmington, Delaware

Average Salary for Nurse Educators

$93,210

Number of Nurse Educators Employed

2,870

Boston—Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average Salary for Nurse Educators

$108,430

Number of Nurse Educators Employed

2,180

Chicago—Naperville—Elgin, Illinois

Average Salary for Nurse Educators

$77,100

Number of Nurse Educators Employed

1,770

Los Angeles—Long Beach—Anaheim, California

Average Salary for Nurse Educators

$109,310

Number of Nurse Educators Employed

1,530

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

More Factors to Consider:  Workplace and Employer

medical professionals talking in hallway

Aspiring nurse educators or those already in the field who want to move up or into leadership positions may want to consider these factors when deciding what they want to teach and where.

Top Workplaces

As this chart shows, there’s a wide salary range for nurse educators by workplace.

Colleges, Universities, and Professional schools

Nurse Educators Employed

44,340

Average Salary

$83,340

Junior Colleges

Nurse Educators Employed

16,920

Average Salary

$75,960

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

Nurse Educators Employed

3,410

Average Salary

$95,720

Technical and Trade Schools

Nurse Educators Employed

2,090

Average Salary

$77,010

Educational Support Services Agencies

Nurse Educators Employed

700

Average Salary

$80,410

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Advancing Your Career

Within the nurse educator field, there are a variety of roles and pathways for career growth. For example, with the right education, experience, and training, you could move up from instructor or professor to dean.

There also are job opportunities in:

  • Research—In this field, nurse educators can publish their work in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Consulting—Some educators work with organizations to create education programs.
  • Public policy—Nurse educators can help an organization develop policy and also serve as a spokesperson on nursing issues.

sheila mickool

Written and reported by:

Sheila Mickool

Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

donna swope

Donna R. Swope, MS, RN

Adjunct Professor of Nursing at Stevenson University

Joseph Dunmire

Board member, National Association of Healthcare Recruitment

beverly malone

Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN

President and CEO. National League for Nursing