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 (BLS) 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 21.5% through 2031, 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 Salary

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

National data

Median Salary: $77,440

Projected job growth: 21.5%

10th Percentile: $47,630

25th Percentile: $61,390

75th Percentile: $98,680

90th Percentile: $125,930

Projected job growth: 21.5%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $65,950 $50,230 $122,690
Alaska $80,350 $61,870 $132,260
Arizona $63,670 $60,410 $101,350
Arkansas $61,030 $37,940 $79,210
California $99,000 $62,540 $155,240
Colorado $79,150 $38,810 $104,220
Connecticut $97,340 $60,010 $127,730
Delaware N/A N/A N/A
District of Columbia $100,050 $48,650 $161,460
Florida $71,010 $60,750 $101,840
Georgia $60,630 $18,360 $93,750
Hawaii $98,940 $77,100 $130,800
Idaho $74,990 $47,960 $121,140
Illinois $76,350 $46,730 $103,630
Indiana $80,920 $48,870 $132,720
Iowa $75,600 $47,860 $123,630
Kansas $60,030 $18,240 $128,390
Kentucky $68,870 $35,350 $110,250
Louisiana $74,120 $33,950 $92,780
Maine $76,350 $48,790 $103,890
Maryland $77,630 $49,650 $123,630
Massachusetts $81,650 $48,660 $163,480
Michigan $76,350 $32,080 $105,920
Minnesota $77,450 $39,170 $123,630
Mississippi $76,090 $49,730 $102,050
Missouri $63,740 $47,450 $97,780
Montana $77,100 $58,420 $97,340
Nebraska $76,540 $47,960 $121,340
Nevada $96,820 $47,290 $124,970
New Hampshire $78,610 $50,080 $101,800
New Jersey $96,750 $45,020 $124,320
New Mexico $76,710 $49,870 $84,310
New York $96,450 $45,350 $159,310
North Carolina $63,900 $49,860 $103,890
North Dakota $77,030 $59,030 $103,590
Ohio $77,100 $38,020 $128,390
Oklahoma $60,410 $47,330 $81,250
Oregon $77,860 $60,810 $125,090
Pennsylvania $80,480 $50,080 $131,040
Rhode Island $79,410 $61,260 $125,930
South Carolina $66,100 $37,690 $100,310
South Dakota $63,740 $59,900 $97,340
Tennessee $63,900 $48,100 $98,070
Texas $76,100 $19,490 $103,600
Utah $81,460 $59,050 $129,290
Vermont $63,740 $24,440 $103,600
Virginia $77,630 $47,470 $103,890
Washington $77,010 $61,350 $109,970
West Virginia $61,350 $24,530 $99,180
Wisconsin $77,450 $48,720 $102,230
Wyoming $61,560 $30,170 $83,990

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. 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 $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 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

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, 2021

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 4,760
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2,870
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH 2,180
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 1,770
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 1,600

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


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, 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