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. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Nursing With a Concentration in Family
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • RN to Bachelor's in Nursing
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    2. 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
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Education Sepcialist - Nursing Education
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
      • MS in Nursing: Generalist
      • MSN in Nurse Educator
      • MS in Healthcare Administration
      • MSM in Healthcare
      • MS in Nursing: Patient Quality and Safety
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
      • BS Business Admin w/conc in Healthcare Administration
      • BS Healthcare Administration
      • BS Health Science
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Home Health Aide
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Associate's
      • Associate Degree in Nursing
      • PN RN Associate Degree Bridge Program
    Certificate
      • Practical Nursing
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Trident University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Health Sciences (Ph.D. HS)
    Master's
      • Master's - Health Administration
      • Master's - Health Sciences
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Health Sciences
  • Campus Locations:
    9. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Nursing (Practical)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Master of Science - Nursing With a Concentration in Family
  • RN to Bachelor's in Nursing
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

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?

Northcentral University

  • Education Sepcialist - Nursing Education
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MS in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • MS in Nursing: Generalist
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • BS Business Admin w/conc in Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)

Are you a US citizen?

Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma - Home Health Aide

What is your highest level of education?

Fortis College

  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Practical Nursing

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Trident University

  • Health Sciences (Ph.D. HS)
  • Master's - Health Administration
  • Bachelor's - Health Sciences

What is your highest level of education completed?