What Is a Nurse Administrator?

Nursing administration encompasses a wide variety of executive-level nursing tasks. Nurse administrators typically manage staff in medical departments or hospitals and complete administrative tasks such as performance reviews, attending meetings, developing training and personnel procedures, and more. A nurse administrator reports directly to a hospital CEO and may oversee nurse managers. This role is typically office-based and managerial, with little to no direct patient interaction.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are advanced-practice registered nurses (APRNs) who must hold a post-graduate nursing degree. Because nurse administrators manage staff and have high-level responsibilities, they must have extensive experience in nursing and impeccable leadership and management skills.

A typical nurse administrator job description can include any of the following:

  • Master's degree in nursing or healthcare administration
  • Valid nursing and CPR certification
  • Nursing leadership experience
  • Excellent knowledge of healthcare legal regulations and hospital procedures
  • Ability to lead and develop personnel
  • Outstanding communication and problem-solving skills
  • Understanding of basic budgeting and financial reporting

To search and apply for open nurse administrator positions, visit our job boards.

What Are the Education Requirements for Nurse Administrators?

Upon completing an undergraduate nursing degree program, such as a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN), and securing RN licensure via the NCLEX-RN exam, nurses can enter a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. While an MSN is usually sufficient for the role, some nurse administrators pursue a doctoral degree in nursing (DNP). This is a specialty best suited for experienced nurses.

Read more on Master’s in Nursing Administration programs.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

Most employers appreciate a nurse administrator with credentials. There are a few certifications available for this type of specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a Nurse Executive certification and a Nurse Executive-Advanced certification. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) offers certification in Executive Nursing Practice. Eligibility for these certifications varies, but generally, a nurse must hold a valid RN license, have held an administrative or management position, and have a certain number of recent continuing education credits. Read more for further clarification on nurse executive certifications.

Where Do Nurse Administrators Work?

Nurse administrators are most often employed at hospitals, though they generally work in offices and don't have a patient-facing role. Some nurse administrators oversee multiple hospitals within a system, so they may spend part of their time traveling from hospital to hospital. Nurse administrators may also be found in larger medical facilities, such as long-term care facilities.

What Does a Nurse Administrator Do?

Nurse administrators are vital to the executive team, overseeing nursing staff and handling personnel matters. They help develop policies and procedures, coordinate between nurses and other departments, and develop budgets. They make departmental decisions and generally set the tone for running things. Attending meetings and communicating with nursing staff and other hospital executives are a large part of their role.

Read more in our Expert Guide to Nursing Leadership

What are the Roles and Duties of a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are generally responsible for the following:

  • Recruiting, hiring, and training nurses
  • Conducting performance evaluations
  • Budgeting and reporting financial matters
  • Helping to decide what equipment must be purchased
  • Developing policies and procedures and making sure staff are compliant
  • Acting as a liaison between departments, nursing staff, and hospital executives
  • Developing a strategic vision for the hospital or department

Nurse Administrator Salary & Employment

As advanced-practice RNs, nurse administrators earn a median salary of roughly $81,033 annually, though pay can range between $58,518 and $121,870 per year. Salary depends on location, experience, credentials, and other factors.

The nurse administrator job outlook remains promising as the demand for registered nursing grows. Highly skilled and advanced nurses will always be needed for managerial and supervisory roles, and ambitious RNs can look to nursing administration jobs for higher pay and increased responsibility. Additionally, nurses who want more regular hours and are interested in an office-based environment might be suited to a nurse administrator role.

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