Becoming a Nurse Administrator: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
Nurse administrators manage nursing staff activities. They plan work schedules and assign various duties to nurses, provide or arrange for training and visit patients to observe nurses and ensure proper delivery of care. They also manage the maintenance of medical records and inventory and order supplies. Most nursing administrators hold a master's degree in nursing.
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Duties and Responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator

A nurse administrator, at the basic level, is called a head nurse. He or she will supervise staff nurses, recommend policy and structural changes and assist in the implementation of changes. In a county health department, for example, an administrator may perform the role of a health coordinator for mothers-to-be and arrange services that include immunizations and prenatal care. Some administrative nursing jobs are much more complex, requiring management for entire services. The following real-life excerpts from job postings at Monster.com typify the responsibilities of a nurse administrator.

  • 'Nursing administrator needed to support nursing practices and operations with primary duties on select patient units. Candidate must work directly with staff and patients and oversee the performance of high-level care for patients. Applicant will ensure continuity of care to patients 24/7 by providing guidance and mentorship to unit nurses. Must know how to allocate resources and participate in quality and performance improvement initiatives.' -- New York Presbyterian Hospital
  • 'Nurse administrator desired for administrative leadership, consultation, and support for patient units on designated shifts. Applicant will also act as a liaison for the hospital executive director on call as well as the management team of patient care. ' -- University of Texas Medical Branch

Qualifications of a Nurse Administrator

Students who are interested in careers as a nurse administrator are required to have at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Those with a master's degree will have more possibilities to engage in the supervision of nurses and programs. One logical step is for a nurse to get a clinical master's degree along with a functional emphasis in administration. Yet another option is to combine a Master of Nursing with an MBA.

To be successful as a nursing administrator, candidates must be visionary people who like to make things happen and enjoy the challenge of improving things. They must be self-disciplined and have perseverance to achieve long-range goals. Following are typical excerpts from job listings on CareerBuilder.com for nurse administrators.

  • 'Successful applicant will be licensed as an RN with a CNN (Certified Nephrology Nurse) desirable, and one year of patient care experience. A minimum of six months of dialysis experience on an outpatient basis is required. Must have current CPR certification and current EKG interpretation certification. Supervisory experience is a plus.' -- DaVita
  • 'Future Director of Operations must be a licensed Registered Nurse with experience of at least one year supervisory or administrator experience in hospice care, home health, or related programs. Successful candidate will have a minimum of three years experience as a Registered Nurse in providing direct care to patients in a home-health setting. Other federal and state requirements will apply.' - Amedisys

Future Outlook

According to the Mayo Clinic, of all health occupations, nursing is the largest. It is also in the top ten of occupations that are expected to have the largest number of new jobs annually through 2010. Opportunities will be excellent for those with advanced education and training. Many states have documented shortages of nurses, primarily due to an aging population and recent declines in nursing school enrollments.

The faster than average growth will be driven by technological advances in patient care and expanding importance of preventive care. Talented nurse administrators will have opportunity to advance to become hospital administrators, CEOs of nursing organizations or presidents and deans of universities.

Per the American Association of Critical-Care Nursing, the average salary for a nurse administrator in 2004 was $72,080. Over half of nursing administrators earned between $60,000 and $89,999 annually. Approximately 9.6 percent of the workforce earn more than $100,000. Salaries are beginning to rise since employers are struggling to employ and retain a declining number of talented nurse managers.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Accelerated BSN to MSN
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
    Certificate
      • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
      • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    Master's
      • M.S. Nursing - Associate to Master's - Nursing Administration
      • M.S. Nursing - Nursing Administration (Post-MBA)
      • M.S. Nursing and Master of Business Administration
      • M.S. Nursing - Primary Care
      • M.S. Nursing - Associate to Master's - Nursing Education
      • Master of Business Administration - Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Nursing - Post Licensure (RN-BSN)
      • B.S. Healthcare Administration
      • B.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
    Certificate
      • Post-Master's Certificate - Nursing Administration
      • Post-Master's Certificate - Primary Care
      • Post-Master's Certificate - Nursing Education
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Nursing - Nursing Administration
      • MS - Nursing - Nursing Education
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • RN to BSN
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Health Admin

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Health Care Quality
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • M.S. Nursing - Associate to Master's - Nursing Administration
  • B.S. Nursing - Post Licensure (RN-BSN)
  • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
  • Post-Master's Certificate - Nursing Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • BS - Nursing (RN to BSN completion)

Are you a US citizen?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
  • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • RN to BSN
  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

What is your highest level of education?