How to Become an Nurse Educator
1. Become a registered nurse
2. Pursue an advanced degree in nursing
3. Gain real-world experience as a nurse educator
4. Get certified
5. Complete continuing education requirements
Pathways to Become a Nurse Educator
What is a Nurse Educator?
Should I Become a Nurse Educator?
Nurse Educator Certifications
The National League for Nurses: Certified Nurse Educator (CNE®)
National League for Nurses: Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE®cl)
Nurse Educator Resources
The amount of time it takes to become a nurse educator depends on your specific track. In general, it takes about two years to become a registered nurse. An MSN degree can take another two years and a DNP can take two to three years on top of that. An accelerated BSN-to-DNP program can take five years. Times will differ depending on full-time or part-time status.
A nurse educator has the unique role of helping the next generation of nursing students. They design and implement the curriculum to give students theoretical knowledge about nursing. They also oversee hands-on clinical experience. Because they are also registered nurses, they bring a unique perspective based on direct experience in the role of a nurse. Student mentoring, course/curriculum design, research advising and lecturing are all well within the nurse educator scope of practice.
Nurse educators work in academic, hospital and other healthcare settings. In an academic setting, nurse educators teach the theory and practice of nursing to both graduate and undergraduate students. They may give lectures in person or online. Nurse educators also oversee nursing students in clinical settings including health facilities and hospitals.
Nurse educators typically have exceptional communication skills because they need to make complex topics accessible to a variety of stakeholders, from those taking entry-level nursing courses to advanced nursing students working directly with patients. Their direction needs to be clear. Nurse educators are excellent researchers who can design curriculum and lecture on a variety of nursing subjects. Nurse educators help mentor a new generation of nurses, and as such, typically exhibit advising skills and administer practical advice for internships, education pathways and job opportunities.
Nurse administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of nurses including putting together nursing teams, reviewing budgets and supervising nursing staff. They may put nurse educators on a team as the need arises, but they don’t take on teaching positions unless they are teaching a specialized workshop on nursing administration. Like nurse educators, nurse administrators rarely take on direct patient care.