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. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    Master's
      • MS in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • M.B.A & M.S. Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Health Care Quality & Patient Safety
      • Bridge MSN Health Care Quality & Patient Safety
      • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
      • BS in Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • MSN-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
      • Master of Science -DNP Path Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Accelerated BSN to MSN
      • MS in Nursing - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Master of Science in Nursing - MSN/MBA Dual Degree Option
      • MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • MS in Nursing
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
    Associate's
      • Associate of Applied Science in Health ScienceNo Concentration
      • Associate of Applied Science in Health SciencePreprofessional
      • Associate of Science in Health Science
      • Associate of Science in Health SciencePreprofessional
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Bryant & Stratton College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Services Administration - AAS
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)
      • PHD: Nursing: Nursing Education
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences: General
      • Doctor of Health Sciences: General
    Certificate
      • CTG: Nursing Educational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Iowa City, IA

    University of Iowa

  • Western Governors University

Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • MS in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge)
  • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Health ScienceNo Concentration

Which subject are you interested in?

Bryant & Stratton College

  • Health Services Administration - AAS

What is your high school graduation status?

Liberty University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Post-BSN)
  • PHD: Nursing: Nursing Education
  • CTG: Nursing Educational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your highest level of education?