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How to Become a Nursing Administrator

An in-depth look at the duties, responsibilities, schooling, requirements, certifications, job outlook, and salary expectations for today’s Nursing Administrators

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Nursing Administrators play an indispensable role within our healthcare system. While many of them may not provide direct patient care, their contributions are essential for maintaining the ongoing operations and patient-care services throughout our nation’s clinics, hospitals, and trauma care facilities.

In addition to managing nurses and other healthcare professionals, Nursing Administrators carry numerous responsibilities on their shoulders. In most places, they are the glue between doctors, nurses, patients, and other hospital staff.

To be successful, Nursing Administrators must have a deep knowledge of nursing and an equally deep understanding of medical office administration. More than just about any other position in the hospital, Nursing Administrators must understand the jobs, duties, and routines of virtually everyone else around them. Their job is not easy. It requires composure, organization, empathy, and strong communication skills.

For the right people, however, it can be an extremely rewarding profession, in terms of financial compensation as well as personal fulfillment.

Nursing Administration can be a highly rewarding career choice for anyone who is interested in working in the field of medicine, but who also possesses great organizational skills and a passion for working with people. Oh, and by the way, it’s also one of the highest paid jobs in nursing.

(Click here to see our full list of the highest paying nursing jobs in America).

Continue reading our guide to further explore the role of the Nursing Administrator. We will cover how to become a Nursing Administrator as well as the specific duties, responsibilities, and salary* expectations for this respected profession.

The Nursing Administrator Defined

What Is a Nursing Administrator?

Nurse Administrators are responsible for ensuring that hospitals and other healthcare facilities operate safely and cost-effectively. Because of their expertise and leadership qualities, Nursing Administrators are critical to the success of our rapidly changing healthcare system.

Their duties encompass financial management, human resources, and the supervision of nurses and other healthcare team members. They are strategically positioned to resolve any number of issues that can affect the function and performance of their teams. It’s a big job with major responsibilities that touch everyone involved in most healthcare environments.

Nursing Administrator: Job Description

What Does a Nursing Administrator Do?

In most medical facilities, Nurse Administrators are considered part of the executive team. They serve the vital functions of overseeing nursing staff and handling personnel matters. They also help develop budgets, policies, and procedures, by coordinating between nurses and other departments.

Because they work with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, Nursing Administrators must wear multiple hats on a daily basis.

Nursing Administrator: Day-to-Day Responsibilities

As a Nursing Administrator inside a hospital, your days will likely include the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Oversee hiring of nursing staff
  • Creating and maintaining department budgets
  • Ensuring all regulations are being followed
  • Mentoring and educating nursing staff
  • Attending committee and board meetings
  • Preparing and presenting reports
  • Scheduling and overseeing the daily work of nursing staff
  • Observing overall patient care and satisfaction

Nursing Administration Jobs

Where Do Nursing Administrators Work?

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Most Nursing Administrators tend to work in hospital environments, though they also work in nursing homes, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.

Since their vital services are required throughout the healthcare industry, many Nurse Administrators can choose their preferred working environment. Although they typically work in an office, many Nurse Administrators will spend equal amounts of time “out on the floor” to regularly interface with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

Nursing Administrator Schooling & Certification

What Training Is Required to Become a Nurse Administrator?

Owing to the depth of responsibilities and knowledge required on a day-to-day basis, the path to becoming a Nurse Administrator is not a short one. Between the requisite nursing education and experience, it can take up to 10 years to become a Nurse Administration, if you have no prior nursing degree.

Let’s take a closer look at the necessary steps to becoming a Nurse Administrator:

1. Earn Your BSN Degree

It all starts with earning an accredited nursing degree. Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree combines the fundamentals of nursing theory with actual hands-on clinical practice to develop knowledge of different medical procedures. Though it’s not required, many aspiring Nurse Administrators may choose to advance their education by earning their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree (with a focus on administration), in order to expand their future opportunities.

2. Gain RN Nursing Experience

After obtaining your BSN degree, the next step is taking (and passing) the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to be licensed to practice nursing.

(Click here to read our NCLEX-RN Exam Review & Study Guide).

From there you’ll need to start expanding on your nursing experience as a staff nurse at a hospital, a physician’s office, community health organization, mental health clinic or any other healthcare setting that draws your interest. Along the way, it’s advised that you pursue any opportunities to move into administrative positions such as head nurse, assistant unit manager, etc. A minimum of 5 years of nursing experience is usually required for Nursing Administrator candidates.

3. Apply for Certification in Nursing Administration

The final step on the road to becoming a Nurse Administrator is receiving your certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This group confers the Nurse Executive-Board Certification (NE-BC), which confirms competent knowledge and skills in managing the daily operations of nursing units. Receiving this certification requires  all the previous requirements, plus passing a competency-based exam. Also, because this certification is only valid for 5 years, it will need to be renewed periodically with continuing education.

Nurse Administrator Salary

How Much Do Nurses Administrators Make?

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health service managers (like Nurse Administrators) make an average salary* of about $115,000 per year (or about $55.00 per hour).

Nursing Administrator salaries in the top 10th percentile and can reach as high as $189,000 or more.

Of course, salaries in this field can drastically vary depending on multiple factors, including experience, employment-type, and locations. Here are few examples:

Top Paying Industries for Nursing Administrators

Industry Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
Pharmaceuticals $98.22 $204,300
Specialized Hospitals $61.53 $127,990
General Hospitals $59.70 $124,180
Medical & Diagnostic Labs $58.80 $122,300
Doctors’ Offices $52.28 $108,750

Top Paying States for Nursing Administrators

State Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
Washington D.C. $72.14 $150,040
New York $70.67 $147,000
Hawaii $64.09 $133,320
California $63.96 $133,040
Massachusetts $63.92 $132,960

Top Paying Cities for Nursing Administrators

City Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
Santa Cruz, CA $78.50 $163,280
Fairfield, CA $76.53 $159,190
Stamford, CT $74.31 $154,570
Salinas, CA $74.25 $154,440
Hanford, CA $69.88 $145,340
San Jose, CA $69.48 $144,530
New York, NY $69.41 $144,370
Janesville, WI $69.20 $143,940
San Francisco, CA $68.63 $142,760
Binghamton, NY $68.01 $141,450

Job Outlook for Nurse Administrators

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth for medical and health service managers is projected to increase by 32% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (4%).

Much of this growth will result from an increase in the demand for healthcare services and preventative care for the aging population in our country.

A Career as a Nurse Administrator

Are you ready to start your career as a Nurse Administrator?

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Nurse Administrators are commonly referred to as the “directors of nurses.” They direct nurses by establishing administrative procedures, promoting the development of nursing staff, budgeting, maintaining practice guidelines, communicating with other health units, scheduling staff members, and analyzing nursing treatment. It is a lot of responsibility.

If you’re the type of individual who can juggle numerous responsibilities and manage a staff of personnel, becoming a Nurse Administrator could be an incredibly rewarding career path for you.

If this sounds like you, rise up to the challenge and begin your career journey by earning your BSN degree at Eagle Gate College.