Nurse Educator Career Options

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Nurse in front of chalk board

Career options for nurses are not limited to direct patient care in clinical settings. Nurse educators, though often found in academic settings, also have a range of other paths available to them.

Nurse educator career options include working as professional development specialists, education consultants, curriculum coordinators, and clinical competency coordinators. No matter what their title, their fundamental role is “teaching and helping to train the future nurses of the world,” according to

Many nurse educators serve as faculty in teaching hospitals and nursing schools where they develop lesson plans, teach courses, evaluate curriculum, oversee students’ clinical practice, and mentor the next generation of nurses. Whether they teach general or specialized courses, nurse educators must stay abreast of new nursing methods and technologies.

Working as a nurse educator usually means earning an MSN in Nursing Education and Faculty Role. Duquesne University’s online program offers students the freedom to continue working while they earn their degree.

Other Nurse Educator Career Options

Nurse educators can be found in a variety of settings outside of academia, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and technical or vocational schools.

Additional nurse educator career options include:

  • Professional development specialists
  • Education consultants
  • Curriculum coordinators
  • Clinical competency coordinators

Nurse professional development (NPD) specialists help bridge knowledge gaps created by an ever-changing healthcare landscape, according to the American Nurses Association journal. They use online education, simulation, and traditional face-to-face education to facilitate the professional development of clinical staff and promote optimal patient outcomes.

NPDs may also help educate nurses transitioning to another role or specialty. As learning facilitators, they create and implement educational opportunities that promote knowledge retention and competence. The NPD specialty is recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and has its own scope and standards of practice.

“The scope and standards of practice for nursing professional development (NPD) specialists define minimal qualifications as an active registered nurse (RN) license with a master’s degree in nursing or a related field,” the ANA notes. “… Because the NPD role is a combined education and practice role, it typically also requires demonstrated patient-care expertise.”

RNs may also consider the following :

  • Curriculum Coordinators identify training needs required for staff development programs and are usually employed in hospitals or other clinical settings. They plan, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs and may also deliver training content. They may also be responsible for developing materials to communicate the availability of training programs.
  • Education Consultants are commonly hired by specialty practices or healthcare organizations to advise, create, or administer continuing education for clinical staff. Working closely with the client, they provide customized training, regulatory compliance audits, and process review and design to ensure that staff can focus on patient care with positive outcomes. Consultants may be independent or work for clinical education providers.
  • Clinical Competency Coordinators work in hospitals or other clinical settings such as nursing homes, to evaluate patient care by assessing the competency of clinical staff on an ongoing basis, evaluating the quality of patient care by bedside observation, and assessing the demonstration of proper procedures and best practices by staff.

Nurse Educator Career Options and Outlook

Nurses, in general, are in high demand.

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer data specifically on nurse educations, it reports that the employment of RNs is expected to grow 12 percent between 2018 and 2028 – much faster than for other occupations.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) took a deeper look in its October 2018 survey. The responses from 872 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country (an 85.8% response rate) identified 1,715 faculty vacancies. The schools also cited a need to create another 138 faculty positions to meet student demand.

Additionally, the AACN reported that “a wave of faculty retirements is expected across the U.S. over the next decade,” driven in large part by senior faculty.

Drs. Di Fang and Karen Kesten, in “Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016-2025” in Nursing Outlook found that one-third of the current nursing faculty in undergraduate and graduate programs is expected to retire by 2025. This finding underscores the urgency to address the impending exodus of senior faculty and to develop younger educators to succeed them.

These statistics serve to underscore the increasing demand for nurse educators. Whether they are looking to enter an academic setting or follow another career path, factors point to a continuing strong demand for nurse educators looking to explore a variety of nurse educator career options.

About Duquesne University’s Master of Science in Nursing Program

Duquesne University’s online master’s in nursing programs prepare RNs in all stages of their careers to become nurse educators, forensic nurses, and family nurse practitioners. The university offers both MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate degree programs in all three concentrations and provides one-on-one faculty support to encourage academic success.

Duquesne University offers a variety of online MSN tracks for a specialized education:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Nurse Leadership & Health Care Management
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Nurse Education and Faculty Role

For more information, check out Duquesne University’s Online MSN program today.


Nurse Educator:
Nursing Faculty Shortage: AACN
Career Options for Nurse Educators: American Nurse Today
Career outlook: BLS
Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty: Nursing Outlook (login or registration required)