Nurse Educator Career and Degree Guide

Certified Nurse Educator Salaries and Job Growth

nurse educator presenting to healthcare professionals

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says certified nurse educators (CNEs) earn a median annual salary of $78,580 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 18.2% through 2032, considerably above the 5% forecast for all occupations.

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 91,000 qualified applicants to undergraduate and graduate programs in 2021.

According to Robert Rosseter, chief communications officer for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 91,938 qualified applicants to undergraduate and graduate programs in 2021, 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.

Median Annual Nurse Educator Salary

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

National data

Median Salary: $78,580

Projected job growth: 18.2%

10th Percentile: $47,760

25th Percentile: $61,800

75th Percentile: $100,630

90th Percentile: $127,290

Projected job growth: 18.2%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $76,040 $52,490 $108,810
Alaska $85,270 $50,260 $131,710
Arizona $65,460 $59,450 $133,420
Arkansas $60,280 $39,130 $78,490
California $105,320 $63,610 $132,320
Colorado $78,900 $36,120 $107,280
Connecticut $90,990 $58,460 $181,010
Delaware $78,650 $46,970 $154,680
District of Columbia $100,300 $61,560 $162,730
Florida $77,130 $48,250 $106,520
Georgia $63,190 $44,600 $93,810
Hawaii $76,810 $21,380 $100,150
Idaho $64,380 $56,530 $102,180
Illinois $78,390 $46,140 $105,780
Indiana $78,290 $49,950 $138,330
Iowa $73,340 $41,020 $101,480
Kansas $68,160 $21,460 $106,900
Kentucky $66,920 $44,850 $114,680
Louisiana $75,610 $49,890 $117,240
Maine $74,410 $49,670 $102,800
Maryland $77,850 $49,170 $106,780
Massachusetts $95,250 $49,960 $169,930
Michigan $76,740 $31,590 $108,270
Minnesota $76,460 $39,780 $105,670
Mississippi $63,620 $38,260 $91,310
Missouri $64,310 $46,630 $100,010
Montana $79,650 $61,690 $99,280
Nebraska $64,490 $47,180 $99,970
Nevada $102,690 $67,310 $127,180
New Hampshire $79,320 $45,600 $117,450
New Jersey $96,210 $46,020 $138,970
New Mexico $76,410 $47,610 $99,120
New York $92,320 $47,060 $167,350
North Carolina $66,200 $47,400 $104,700
North Dakota $71,980 $59,340 $95,950
Ohio $79,050 $39,910 $124,550
Oklahoma $63,550 $38,690 $84,730
Oregon $90,690 $61,820 $131,030
Pennsylvania $81,760 $54,780 $130,830
Rhode Island $79,450 $59,870 $131,060
South Carolina $77,280 $48,980 $116,560
South Dakota $64,490 $50,540 $78,400
Tennessee $71,600 $47,300 $124,270
Texas $77,550 $46,560 $118,010
Utah $79,390 $49,350 $124,950
Virginia $76,900 $51,410 $104,840
Washington $76,770 $53,650 $115,670
West Virginia $76,080 $41,530 $100,690
Wisconsin $79,570 $58,450 $102,440
Wyoming $61,100 $31,430 $80,690

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

The BLS says salaries can range widely, 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 median 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 $78,580
Nurse Anesthetists $203,090
Nurse Midwives $120,880
Nurse Practitioners $121,610

Demand for Nurse Educators

In addition to the shortage of teachers, there are two other important factors driving the forecast of 21 percent 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 for Nurse Educators

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

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
Visalia-Porterville, CA $132,230
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN $107,640
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV $106,470
Dover, DE $105,950
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $105,640
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA $104,870
Charlottesville, VA $104,840
Fresno, CA $104,700
Tuscaloosa, AL $103,960
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA $103,440

Metro Areas with the Highest Employment

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

Metropolitan Areas Employment
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 4,080
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 2,220
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2,210
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 2,200
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH 2,170

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


Average Salary


Junior Colleges

Nurse Educators Employed


Average Salary


General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

Nurse Educators Employed


Average Salary


Technical and Trade Schools

Nurse Educators Employed


Average Salary


Educational Support Services Agencies

Nurse Educators Employed


Average Salary


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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