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How To Become A Nurse Administrator

Are you a born leader? Do you like to help people while also commanding teams and assuming a supervisory and administrative role? If so, a nursing administration career could be perfect.

In the following guide, we'll discuss what it takes to become a nurse administrator and why you would want to study for this profession.

What is a Nurse Administrator?

Also known as nurse managers, nurse directors, clinical nurse managers, and nurse executives, nurse administrators are healthcare professionals that deal with more strategic and logistical matters within a healthcare organization.

Unlike typical registered nurses, nurse administrators don't work directly with patients and focus more on staffing, operations, and financial aspects.

The end goal is still to improve patient care and patient outcomes, but they achieve that goal in more of an indirect and holistic way.

What Do Nurse Administrators Do?

A nurse administrator is a leader and an organizer. Their roles and responsibilities vary based on the specific healthcare setting in which they work, but they can include:

  • Setting budgets and ensuring they are followed
  • Establishing policies
  • Setting performance goals
  • Recruiting new nursing staff
  • Arranging for the professional development of nursing staff
  • Conducting performance reviews
  • Establishing work schedules
  • Taking disciplinary action where needed

Where Do Nurse Administrators Work?

Nurse administrators work in an office setting within healthcare organizations. You can find them in private practices, long-term care facilities, hospital nursing departments, home health care agencies, and a number of other settings.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Administrators?

Are you ready for a career in nursing administration? The steps below will give you an idea of what it takes to become a nurse administrator.

Step One: Complete an Accredited BSN Program

Nurse administrators need at least a bachelor's degree, and this must come from an accredited institution.

There are a number of ways you can complete this degree, including a traditional BSN degree, which takes between 2 and 4 years, or a bridge program, which is available to students with existing qualifications.

You can also take things a step further and complete a master's degree. It's not essential, but it will broaden your options and could make it easier to find a high-paying position. Some employers insist on only hiring nurse administrators with a master's degree.

Step Two: Qualify as a Registered Nurse

Once you have graduated, you must sit the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This will give you an RN license and prepare you for the next steps.

Step Three: Get Some Experience

Before you go any further, you must start earning some experience and building your resume.

Working within healthcare organizations will teach you how to put your education into practice and show you how nursing administrations work.

Experience is required for all high-level nursing professions, but nursing administrators need more than most. Typically, employers will expect you to have at least 5 years of nursing experience as well as 1 year of experience in management or supervisor roles.

Step Four: Become Certified

The final step on-route to nursing administration is to become certified.

There are a few different certifications, including Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) and Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP), both offered by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL), and the Nurse Executive Board Certification (NE-BC), which is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Step Five: Find Work as a Nurse Administrator

As soon as you become certified as a nurse administrator, you're ready to start looking for work!

At this point, many years have passed since you first began your nursing degree and you have attained a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge, making you a prime candidate for a leadership role within a major healthcare organization.

How Much Do Nurse Administrators Earn?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse administrators make an average annual salary of $104,280, but there are several variables at play here.

Firstly, your average salary is largely dependent on your location, and you can earn considerably more in states like California and New York than you can in Arkansas and Alabama.

Secondly, experienced nurses will generally earn more than the average. They have the experience and skills needed to command a higher salary and if they combine this with working in a state like CA or NY, they could earn in excess of $150,000 a year.

Take a look at the table below to see how much you can expect to make as a nurse administrator in the United States. All of the following figures were taken from recent BLS data:

StatePer HourPer Year
District of Columbia$75.77$157,590
New Hampshire$57.93$120,490
New Jersey$61.24$127,380
New Mexico$61.66$128,250
New York$75.07$156,140
North Carolina$57.72$120,060
North Dakota$60.84$126,560
Rhode Island$62.80$130,620
South Carolina$51.14$106,360
South Dakota$51.85$107,850
West Virginia$53.42$111,120

Is a Nurse Administrator a Nurse?

Of course! Just because nurse administrators work in offices and deal with finances, staffing, and other administrative duties doesn't mean they're not nurses.

As noted above, nurse administrators are required to complete nursing school, qualify as registered nurses, and complete an advanced degree in nursing.

Summary: Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Nursing administration jobs are on the rise, with experts predicting an increase of nearly a third by 2030.

If you're looking for a job that involves direct patient care, it's probably not the right role for you. But if you see yourself more as a leader and strategist, someone who can manage nursing teams and help healthcare organizations, it's perfect.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you