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Working in Nursing Administration: How to Get a Job as a Nurse Administrator

Working in Nursing Administration: How to Get a Job as a Nurse Administrator

Registered Nurses make up one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and, by far, the largest component of the healthcare workforce. In order to ensure that nurses can efficiently deliver on their duties as the primary providers of hospital patient care and long-term care, the nursing staff must be expertly managed and coordinated. And that’s where nursing administration comes into play. 

Due to the fact that nursing administration is a fast expanding healthcare field, Registered Nurses now have access to a broader array of career opportunities in management. Depending on how high you aim to climb on the nursing ladder, you can opt to become a Nurse Administrator, a Director of Nursing, or a Chief Nursing Officer

This guide will bring into the spotlight the role of the Nurse Administrator, the first position in the nursing administration hierarchy. So, if you’re curious about what a Nurse Administrator is, how to become one, and what salary you can expect if pursuing this job, you have come to the right place. 

What Is a Nursing Administrator? 

Nurse Administrators, sometimes also called Nurse Managers, are licensed Registered Nurses responsible for coordinating and managing other nurses within a medical facility. Typically they supervise one unit or nursing department. The core of their job description is to ensure that patients receive top-quality care and that the department operates like a well-oiled machine. Nurse Administrators are in charge of day-to-day operations, budgets, staffing, policy implementation, and setting the strategic course for the entire unit. Keeping the nursing staff driven and inspired helps them achieve their goals and run the department efficiently. 

nursing administration

How to Become a Nurse Administrator?

In this section, we’ll guide you through the entire process of securing a job in nursing administration. Notably, becoming a Nurse Administrator requires a combination of schooling and work experience. 

A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing is the minimum educational requirement for Nurse Administrators. There are several avenues you could take to obtain this degree. You can enroll in a traditional BSN program. It takes around four years to complete, and once you pass the NCLEX-RN, you’re ready to enter the workforce directly as a Bachelor’s trained nurse. Nightingale College’s BSN program features a blended format, with online didactic learning and on-ground supervised field experience. In as few as 32 months, you’ll be prepared to start leaving your mark on the healthcare industry.

Aspiring RNs who decide not to enroll in a BSN program straight away due to length of program, costs, or personal preference, can instead take the ADN route. You can enroll in an Associate’s degree program, which takes around two years and start practicing as a Licensed Registered Nurse as soon as you pass the NCLEX exam. Should you decide to advance your career toward the nursing administration ranks, the next step in your education process would be to get your BSN. Since you already have your ADN degree, a fast track bridge RN-to-BSN program is the quickest and easiest way to achieve that. This type of program takes from one to two years. Most schools, Nightingale College included, offer the possibility of completing it online, allowing you to keep working through your studies. 

While a Bachelor’s degree is still the minimum requirement to enter a nursing administration career, a Master’s Degree is quite common and increasingly preferred by employers. 

Even with the schooling requirements fulfilled, it will still be a few years before you can go after a job in nursing administration. Typically, you need at least two years of bedside nursing experience before moving into a non-clinical, supervisory role. However, the hands-on work experience is invaluable for aspiring Nurse Administrators because it helps them gain perspective on the entire nursing practice. Clinical expertise makes administrators better professionals in the long run. 

Do Nurse Administrators Need Certifications?

While getting certified is not mandatory for Registered Nurses, it is undoubtedly a big plus. Certification leads to increased recognition from peers and supervisors, helping you stand out to potential employers. Also, it boosts your confidence in your skills and knowledge, making you a better nurse. 

Some possible certification opportunities for Nurse Administrators include:

  • Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC) is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
  • Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification (NEA-BC) is also offered by the ANCC. 
  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML), designed exclusively for nurse leaders in the nurse manager role, offered by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL)

Find out more reasons why you should consider getting certified

how to become a nurse administrator

What Is the Role of a Nurse Administrator in a Healthcare Setting?

The Nurse Administrator is a vital link in the healthcare chain. While they don’t provide bedside care, they oversee the nurses who do, thus being directly responsible for the quality of care in a specific nursing setting. With a complex and extensive job description, Nurse Administrators must always be ready to tackle new tasks. These are some of the functions and duties nursing administration brings to the table: 

  • Attending meetings to coordinate with nursing staff and higher management
  • Interviewing and hiring staff
  • Conducting performance reviews and recording results of evaluations
  • Reporting on job performance and staff needs serving as a liaison between nursing staff and higher management
  • Developing training and overseeing educational opportunities for nurses in the department
  • Taking care of scheduling
  • Managing nurses’ concerns
  • Handling complaints from patients, doctors, nurses
  • Mediating conflicts that may arise among nurses
  • Addressing budgeting and record-keeping
  • Ensuring the unit/department meets all the safety standards
  • Ordering and keeping track of new equipment for the unit
  • Establishing policies to improve patient care.

What Qualities Should RNs Who Work in Nursing Administration Have? 

Being a Nurse Administrator is no easy task, but having a well-rounded set of skills will come a long way. These are some of the abilities and qualities that will make your career in nursing administration a resounding success. 

Communication skills are a high priority. As a Nurse Administrator, you direct the communication flow from the bedside to the boardroom. You communicate policies and procedures to nurses ensuring the staff’s compliance with new laws and regulations. You also advocate for the RNs’ needs to higher management. Strong communication skills can help you juggle these responsibilities. 

Being detail-oriented is a vital characteristic of nursing administration. You may have to organize and maintain scheduling and billing information for your department. You need to keep an eye out for the state of the equipment and the need for improvements. So paying close attention to detail and being very organized will prove helpful. 

Interpersonal skills are another definite asset. You collaborate with a wide array of professionals, from nurses and physicians to Directors of Nursing, Chief Nursing Officers, and other members of the institution’s top management. You may also have to collaborate with health insurance representatives, social workers and other professionals. 

Technical skills will also come to your advantage. Staying on top of the advances in healthcare technology and data analytics will provide you with the expertise necessary to pass down these skills to other staff members and improve the quality of care. For example, suppose the institution you work at adopts a new electronic health record (EHR) system. In that case, you need to oversee the training of nurses in using this new technology. You can only do that if you possess the technical abilities to begin with. 

Leadership skills are an essential part of working in nursing administration. When you’re responsible for training, motivating, and leading staff, you’ll find it very handy to be a good and respected leader. 

nursing administration jobs

How Much Do Nurse Administrators Earn?

While no specific data for Nurse Administrators are available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on the salaries of Medical and Health Services Managers. Since Nurse Administrators fit this job description, BLS data will also reflect their salary prospects. 

The average annual salary for Nurse Administrators is $101,340. The size of the paycheck will vary depending on several factors: location, employer, education, certification, and years of experience. It also varies based on industry. For example, Healthcare Administrators working in hospitals earn on average $119,450. Those employed in outpatient care centers bring home around $99,540, while a job in administration in nursing and residential care facilities offers wages in the vicinity of $83,550. 

Find a more detailed view of how much Nurse Administrators earn in every state in our article. 

For the most part, Nurse Administrators work full time, Monday through Friday. Work during evenings or weekends may be occasionally required for RNs working in hospitals or nursing homes as these are settings that don’t follow traditional business opening hours. 

What Is the Job Outlook in Nursing Administration?

Alongside salary benefits, working in nurse administration comes with one more essential advantage: the job has an excellent job outlook. Employment of Medical and Health Services Managers, including Nurse Administrators, is projected to grow 32 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

The demand for healthcare services increases exponentially as the large baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life. This means that there is a pressing need for more nurses to care for growing numbers of patients. It also implies a greater need for nursing administrators to organize, manage and supervise the nursing workforce. In all, strong job prospects await the aspiring RNs who want a career in nursing administration. 

nursing administration salary

Ready to Start Climbing the Nursing Administration Ladder?

Pursuing a job in nursing administration can be an exciting opportunity for career advancement. If you are ready to trade your bedside role for a non-clinical management position, then this can be a natural next step for your career. It comes with additional responsibilities and challenges but also with many financial and professional rewards. And we’d love nothing more than to help you get there. 

Our accredited programs will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in your nursing career. Don’t wait to apply! Enroll today in Nightingale College’s BSN degree or advance your education with our online RN-to-BSN program

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