Nursing Administration: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a nurse administrator. Learn about education and certification requirements, job duties and median wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nursing Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Nursing Administrator?

Nursing administrators perform a wide range of duties related to patient care, although they do not provide direct patient care themselves. They may be responsible for hiring staff and creating staffing schedules, as well as developing budgets for their department or departments and overseeing spending. These administrators may also be involved in assessing how well their department provides nursing care and making recommendations for how to improve the quality of care. Regulation adherence is also part of a nursing administrator's duties, and they'll need to monitor their staff to ensure that all rules are upheld.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum; master's degree for advancement
Education Field of Study Nursing, health services administration
Licensure/Certification A nursing license is required in all states and the District of Columbia; certification is optional
Key Responsibilities Establish administrative procedures for nursing staff, liaison between nursing staff and executive administrators, coordinate and analyze nursing care, recommend policies and budgets
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% (for all registered nurses)*
Median Salary (2016) $81,742**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Do Nursing Administration Professionals Do?

Nurse administrators, also known as nurse executives, oversee a team of nurses in hospitals, long-term care centers and other healthcare agencies and facilities. They hold job titles such as head nurse as well as nursing unit manager, shift manager, supervisor or director. As a nurse administrator, you would be responsible for establishing administrative procedures for your nursing staff, acting as a liaison between them and executive administrators, coordinating and analyzing nursing care, making recommendations on policy and maintaining the budget.

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

Nurse administrators are registered nurses (RNs). In order to become an RN, you need to complete an undergraduate nursing program and obtain licensure by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once licensed, you're expected to take continuing education units on an ongoing basis.

To advance to nursing administration roles, you generally need to complete a graduate program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Master of Science in Nursing programs with concentrations in nursing administration are offered by many schools. Programs include studies in nursing practice theory, strategic planning, healthcare policy and human resources management. A health services administration graduate degree would also be relevant.

What Certifications Are Available?

If you wish to become certified in nursing administration, you could earn a credential through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which offers two certifications for nurse executives. You could also opt to pursue credentials from the American Organization of Nurse Executives; it confers the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice and Certified Nurse Manager and Leader awards. All certifications require an RN license, as well as meeting stipulated education and experience levels.

What Is My Job Outlook?

The BLS projected a 16% increase in openings for registered nurses collectively between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. PayScale.com reported a salary range between $56,118 and $124,184 for nurse administrators as of January 2017. The median salary was noted as $81,742.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Social and community service managers and human resource managers have some aspects of their work that are similar to what nursing administrators do. Social and community service managers, who need a bachelor's degree, develop and oversee the operations of social service programs. They may assign staff to perform specific duties, develop budgets, monitor spending and assess how efficient their department is at delivering services. All of these are tasks a nursing administrator may also perform.

Human resource managers assess the staffing needs of a company and interview applicants to determine who should be hired to work there. This is similar to the work of a nursing administrator because they may also participate in hiring applicants. Human resource managers need a bachelor's or master's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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