How to Become a Nurse Educator:
Take These 5 Steps

How to Become a Nurse Educator

How to Become a Clinical/Certified Nursing Educator

If you are a nurse who is interested in the future of nursing and passionate about teaching, a career as a nurse educator might be a great fit. As a nurse educator, you will help guide the next generation of nurses and play a key role as a mentor, teacher, and role model for nursing students.

If you would like to advance your nursing career and teaching appeals to you, these steps guide your path:

  1. Understand the role of a nurse educator
  2. Become an RN and gain experience
  3. Enroll in a nurse educator program
  4. Complete your clinicals and graduate
  5. Pass the CNE certification exam

1. Understand the role of a nurse educator

Nurse educators prepare nursing students for the transition from school to a professional work setting. They work with both nursing students and clinical professionals who need continuing education or training.

A good portion of a nurse educator’s day may be spent in a classroom or office setting, preparing for classes, giving lectures, advising students, grading papers, handling administrative work, and keeping up with current nursing knowledge. In addition, some nurse educators may work in hospital/clinical settings, providing staff education and development. Possibilities in the job description include:

  • Design curriculum and instruction to help ensure courses meet the state accreditation requirements.
  • Prepare and deliver lectures and lead classroom discussions
  • Oversee lab and clinical education
  • Provide feedback as students work and interact with patients.
  • Supervise student teaching, internships, and research.

In addition, many nurse educators are involved with research and evidence-based practice efforts, growing the scientific base for the practice of nursing.

Although patient treatment is not a primary job duty for nurse educators, they often supervise nursing students as they work with patients.

2. Become an RN with a bachelor’s degree

If you aren’t already a registered nurse, becoming one is your first step.

You may qualify to become a registered nurse by earning your associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing; however—to become a nurse educator you will eventually need to earn your master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs will require a bachelor’s degree to enroll, so your best bet is to begin working towards your bachelor’s degree from the start.

Herzing University offers many unique degree pathways for students to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing:

  • 3-year BSN program. For students with no prior experience in nursing, our Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program puts you on a path to earn your nursing degree in 3 years.
  • Accelerated BSN program. If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, our ABSN program can help you earn your second degree in as few as 16 months.
  • LPN to BSN. Already a licensed practical nurse? Our LPN to BSN bridge program helps you earn your nursing degree faster.
  • Paramedic to BSN. Paramedics can build on their experience in emergency care and transition into a career in nursing by enrolling in our paramedic to BSN program.
  • RN to BSN. If you are already an RN with an associate degree, you can take our online RN to BSN program (or on-campus RN-BSN program in Orlando, Florida) to earn your BSN in 1 year or less.

** Program availability varies by campus. Please click through to each program for details.

Once you have graduated from a college or university, you certify as a registered nurse by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and meeting the board of nursing requirements in your state. Then you will be ready to get your first job as an RN.

Gain experience as a registered nurse

Three years of hands-on nursing is often needed before you can begin teaching; however, this varies based on academic institutions.

3. Enroll in a nurse educator program

After gaining experience as an RN, the next step to becoming a nurse educator is enrolling in a master’s degree in nursing education program.

Our master in nursing education online program can be completed in 16 months when attending full-time. We emphasize key teaching skills including curriculum development, instructional strategy, assessment and evaluation strategies.

With 6 start dates per year you won’t have to wait around too long to get started.

For nurses who already hold an MSN we also offer a nurse educator certificate option so you can get the education you need in less than a year.

4. Complete your clinicals and graduate

Graduating with a master’s degree in nursing education takes more than online classwork. Herzing’s nurse educator program includes two on-site clinicals with a preceptor in an approved nursing education or staff development setting.

Our goal is to prepare you for real success in a teaching environment, and the clinical portion of the curriculum is crucial to build the skills you need to thrive!

5. Get certified

Certification is not currently required for nurse educators, but it can help increase your earning potential and help you stay competitive in the job market. Nurse educators earn certification from the National League for Nursing (NLN) by taking the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam. To qualify to take the exam, you’ll need:

  • An active, unrestricted RN license
  • A Master of Science in Nursing degree
  • A completed nursing education course at an advanced level.

We recommend you get certified to help give you an edge in the job market and get off to a fast start in your new career.

Start your career as a nurse educator

With a master’s degree and a certification, you’re ready to look for your first job as an educator!

As a nurse educator, you can help prepare the next generation of nurses and touch countless lives. The demand for educators is growing - are you ready to answer the call? If you’re ready to have a positive impact on the nursing field, now is a great time to start on the path to a rewarding new career as a nurse educator.

Frequently asked questions

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