Certified Nurse Educator Career

A certified nurse educator is a licensed nurse who provides educational expertise to other nurses and medical students. These individuals typically work at universities, nursing schools and teaching hospitals where their experience and skills can be passed on to a new generation of healthcare specialists. If you have a passion for both nursing and teaching and want an opportunity to help shape the future of the nursing field, this position may be right for you.

Job Description

The primary job of a certified nurse educator is to educate other nurses and nursing students in a selected area of specialization. Most individuals in this position have a nursing certificate in one or more areas of interest in which they are particularly skilled. Typical tasks in this position include developing a curriculum for nursing education programs, teaching through didactic lectures and clinical experience, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals to refine the teaching curriculum. Good clinical skills and excellent communication abilities are a must for anyone in this position.

Education and Training

There are two main paths to becoming a certified nurse educator, and both require that you have a nursing degree and registered nursing experience. You must then obtain a Master's or Doctoral degree in nursing as well. Additional requirements depend on the emphasis in your Master's or Doctoral program. If you choose an emphasis on nursing education, you need at least two years of full-time employment at an academic institution. If you choose an emphasis in an area aside from nursing education, you need four years of academic nursing employment. Additionally, you will need to pass a certification exam put forth by the National League for Nursing, or NLN.

Costs Involved

Becoming a certified nurse educator means investing a great deal of money in education. Tuition to a nursing college costs an average of $30,000 or more over four years, with the final cost depending on the prestige of the university you attend. Obtaining a Master's or Doctoral degree can cost an additional $25,000 to $50,000. The certification exam is a further $475, although this amount can be reduced to $375 through membership with the NLN.

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Funding and Scholarships

You can obtain grants from the government by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This online application should be completed as early in the year as possible since educational grants are limited. The US government also has a nursing scholarship program available through the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA, that can help fund your nursing education. You should also look into becoming a member of nursing societies such as the NLN or the American Nurses Association, which often provide financial assistance for schooling and certification.

Job Openings and Opportunities

Most certified nurse educator positions are available in nursing colleges and teaching hospitals, in which you will be responsible for using your experience and skills in improving the techniques of new nurses and nursing students. Private practice offices rarely hire nurse educators due to budget constraints, but some of the larger ones may be interested in someone with the certification to help train their staff. Some government agencies and research labs also seek out individuals with certification in this field, particularly if they can conduct research on patients that will require careful care and monitoring.


The average salary for a certified nurse educator exceeds $71,000 annually. The exact level of compensation depends on your experience level and where you teach. Rural hospitals often have smaller budgets that prevent them from paying a large salary to their employees, while teaching hospitals and universities in major cities and other high-need areas often have more resources to distribute. You can increase your salary after being hired by pursuing a Doctorate degree if you do not already have one, as those individuals with that level of education tend to make a much higher salary than the rest of the field.

Career Outlook

The United States is in the midst of a severe nursing shortage, and this is partially due to a shortage of capable individuals who can train new nurses. As such, most areas have a very high demand for certified nurse educators. The Department of Labor estimates that over one million new nurses will enter the field by 2016, and there will be a need for qualified individuals to teach those newcomers the skills necessary. If you gain certification as a nurse educator, you should have no problem finding many job opportunities.

Thousands of would-be nurses are being turned away from school due to a shortage of certified nurse educators. If you are interested in improving the overall nursing field and have a talent for teaching and communication, you should consider entering this field.

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