How To Become a Nurse Administrator (Plus Skills and Salary)

Thinking of advancing your nursing career? You may be considering moving away from the clinical setting and into leadership. Becoming a nurse administrator is one option for experienced nurses with the right qualifications. Also regarded as nurse managers, nurse executives, nurse directors or clinical nursing managers, nurse administrators perform different duties than RNs, providing strategic direction and planning, as well managing day-to-day operations for nursing departments, organizations, and healthcare facilities. In a nursing administration career, you can draw on your clinical expertise as you make decisions about staffing, finance, operations, and care procedures to provide high-quality, cost-effective care for patients.

In this article, we offer an overview of how to begin a career in nursing administration, including education requirements, salary estimates, a general job description & duties, job prospects and more.

Three Step-by-Step Pathways to Becoming a Nurse Administrator (NA)
  1. Step 1: Graduate from High School or Earn a GED (Four Years) …
  2. Step 2: Graduate from an Accredited Associate Degree Program (Two Years) …
  3. Step 3: Become a Practicing RN Through Licensure and Examination (Timeline Varies)

How to become a Nurse Manager as a New Grad Nurse

What does a nurse administrator do?

Nurse administrators promote the development of the nurses in their department. They also direct nursing patient care and create and implement administrative processes. Here are some of the common duties of a nurse administrator:

What is a nurse administrator?

A nurse administrator is a senior-level nurse who oversees a nursing staff. They ensure these nurses abide by their medical facilitys regulations and policies. A nursing administrator also makes sure their nurses provide patients with the best possible care. Ultimately, they help improve the quality and performance of their facilitys nursing practice.

How to become a nurse administrator

Since the role of a nurse administrator is a managerial and administrative position, its important to pursue an entry-level role and meet certain qualifications first. Heres how to become a nurse administrator:

1. Become a registered nurse (RN)

Pursue a career as an RN before becoming a nurse administrator. You can earn your associate degree in nursing or opt for a bachelors degree in this same field. Make sure to pursue a degree from an accredited institution. These degrees can help you attain the fundamental knowledge for a role in the nursing field. A bachelors degree, in particular, can help you gain clinical practice that you can use in future medical procedures.

Apart from an undergraduate degree, it also helps to earn a Master of Science in nursing with a concentration in nursing administration. This degree can expand your knowledge and provide you with more advantageous career opportunities.

2. Gain experience as an RN

After you graduate, take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. After passing the exam, you earn your license and can legally practice in your state.

Once you pass the exam, gain hands-on experience as an RN. For example, you can become a staff nurse in a health care setting, such as a hospital or doctors office. With enough experience, you can advance into more administrative roles, such as a head nurse or assistant director. Keep in mind that many employers prefer nurse administrator candidates with at least five years of nursing experience and at least a year in a role with nurse management duties.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

3. Consider pursuing a certification

Before becoming a nurse administrator, consider pursuing a certification related to nurse management. Not only does a certification help you advance in your field, but it also helps you develop your knowledge. Make sure to meet the eligibility requirements for the certification you want and receive a passing score on the exam. Its also important to renew your certification with continued education.

Nurse administrator skills

Nurse administrators often use the knowledge and experience from their clinical practice to perform their duties. They also use their varied skill set, which often includes:

Nurse administrator work environment

Many medical facilities employ a specialized manager to supervise their nursing staff. Because of this, you can often find nursing administrators in a variety of environments where nurses work. Here are some common work locations for nurse administrators:


Is being a nurse administrator hard?

Nurse administrators are responsible for: Maintaining the budget and reporting on financial matters. Serving as a liaison between nurses and other hospital workers, including executives. Establishing policies and procedures and ensuring staff is in compliance.

What is the difference between nurse manager and nurse administrator?

You can rest assured that being a nurse administrator is a challenging and demanding job. It requires to ability to multi-task and to make decisions about both people and policies. It also provides someone with leadership skills the opportunity to be a role model and mentor for other nurses.

What makes a good nurse administrator?

Nurse executives are the top leaders responsible for leading overall nursing operations, while nurse administrators manage specific departments according to workplace policies and protocols. Nurse managers work on the unit, managing the day-to-day activities of the staff.

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