Nurse Manager: Job Description, Skills and Salary

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A smiling nurse manager standing in front of a hospital

The national nursing shortage is a serious issue that demands action. More than one-fifth of the nurses responding to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey reported that they were planning on retiring in the next five years. Perhaps more alarming is the shortage’s current impact on the health care industry. A March 2022 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 28% of nursing facilities posted at least one staffing shortage during the previous week.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there will be roughly 203,200 job openings for registered nurses and about 112,700 job openings for nurse practitioners each year between 2021 and 2031. Many of these openings will be for management positions. Nurses who aspire to become nurse managers are coming into the field at an ideal time. To plan their careers, they should consider the typical nurse manager job description and the essential skills for the job.

Nurse Manager Job Description

Nurse managers supervise nursing staff in a hospital or clinical settings. They oversee patient care, make management and budgetary decisions, set work schedules, coordinate meetings, and make personnel decisions. They also recruit and train nurses and other health care professionals and maintain a facility’s records.

Additionally, nurse managers work with staff to apply emerging nursing theories to care delivery. They also implement state and federal regulatory guidelines for patient safety and educate staff about any changes in the laws and how they impact care delivery.

Nurse managers work in a number of clinical settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and psychiatric institutions. They are responsible for ensuring every aspect of a facility’s nursing program runs as efficiently as possible, from patient interactions to departmental operations. Their efforts can help close care delivery gaps due to nursing shortages and improve patient outcomes.

Skills of a Successful Nurse Manager

Successful nurse managers apply a holistic approach to health care and care delivery. The role requires skills in areas beyond clinical care. Nurse managers should be adept at coordinating resources and personnel and meeting goals and objectives. They must be effective communicators who can balance the needs of their nursing staff and their facilities’ administrators. They must also have foundational business and budgeting skills to handle the administrative side of the role effectively.

In addition to these core competencies, the following characteristics are common among successful nurse managers:

  • Effective Communication — Part of being an effective leader is listening to staff and patient concerns and communicating their needs. Nurse managers must be able to build a solid rapport with all staff members, from the janitorial staff to head administrators, as well as with patients.
  • Advocacy — In some cases, nurse leaders might have to advocate for staff to ensure a safe and reasonable practice environment. In other cases, they might have to advocate for patient safety and access to quality health care. Nurse managers should not be afraid of using their voices and position.
  • Participation — With so many administrative demands, it is important that nurse managers balance business with patient care. Nurse managers must have superior clinical skills to ensure patient safety and well-being.
  • Mentoring — Successful nurse leaders do not micromanage their staff. They encourage, empower, mentor, and find strengths. They boost creativity and mindfulness.
  • Maturity — Nurse managers do not immediately take sides in squabbles or assess blame before knowing all the facts. They don’t let simmering emotions boil over. Instead, they meet conflict and work through it.
  • Professionalism — Nurse managers follow their moral compass to ensure all aspects of the profession are met with honesty and integrity. They address people with respect and do not bully.
  • Supportive — Nurse managers don’t set the bar for expectations unreasonably high. Instead, they use supportive encouragement to challenge employees to succeed. They coach and mentor.

Nurse Manager Salary and Job Growth

As of August 2022, the median annual salary for nurse managers was about $90,000, according to PayScale, with the top 10% making roughly $122,000 per year. Several factors can affect a nurse manager’s salary, such as their education level, experience, and location.

The BLS includes nurse managers in the medical and health services category, a group that it predicts will experience 28% job growth between 2021 and 2031, which is significantly higher than the 8% projected job growth overall.

The Future of Nurse Managers

As the current nursing workforce ages and retires, the anticipated shortage of nurses will create opportunities for newly minted nurse managers. Their work can be vital in numerous ways. Significantly, effective leaders can improve morale in a health care facility, which can mitigate the potential for nurse burnout.

Effective nurse leaders also can help facilities adapt to the ever-evolving care delivery landscape. Cohesive relationships among staff members and better communication with staff can ease the implementation of new care delivery strategies and regulatory changes.

Lead Others in an Important Nursing Role

Effective nurse managers are key to alleviating the effects of the nursing shortage. Duquesne University’s online post-master’s nursing certificates teach registered nurses the skills they need to advance in their careers and take on leadership roles.

Students can choose from specializations such as Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Education and Faculty Role, or they can focus on management skills in a dedicated Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management Post-Master’s Certificate program. Learn how we can help you cultivate the leadership skills to make a difference.

Recommended Reading

How Nurse Leaders Can Address Discrimination in Nursing

The Importance of Diversity in Nursing

Trends in Nursing Education: What to Expect for the Future


Healthline, “Understanding the American Nursing Shortage”

Indeed, Nurse Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Johnson & Johnson, Nurse Manager

Kaiser Family Foundation, “Nursing Facility Staffing Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, “The 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey”

Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, “The Importance of Leadership in Nursing”

Payscale, Average Nursing Manager Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses