September 2, 2015

Nurse Manager Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview

Many nurses are surprised to learn that nurse management is actually a nursing specialty.  Some nurse managers choose a supervisory clinical path, while others move into administration.  Sometimes jobs bridge both areas.  These nurses wear many hats.  They recruit and oversee other nurses, sometimes collaborate with physicians, and assist patients and their families.

Nurse managers are registered nurses (RNs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports with an expected increase of 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, job growth for RNs will be faster than average.  Median RN 2012 pay was $65,470, or $31.48 per hour.  According to PayScale , the average annual salary for a nurse manager is $80,707.  Total compensation could reach $108,376.

Paths to Increase Nurse Management Salary

All professionals working in nurse management are RNs.  The Campaign for Nursing’s Future indicates that to earn an RN credential, an individual must complete a hospital nursing program, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor of nursing degree.  Graduates must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination ( NCLEX-RN ) to be licensed in the area where they want to work.

Most nurse management positions do not require a master’s degree, Rasmussen College says.  However, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can boost nurse management salary.  Other choices are a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Health Administration (MHA), or completing some appropriate business courses.  Most employers are willing to assist nurses with the expense of graduate or continuing education classes.

Another option for increasing salary is to become certified.  The American Organization of Nurse Executives awards Certified in Executive Nursing Practice ( CENP ) or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader ( CNML ) designations to nurses who pass their examinations.

Experienced nurse managers with master’s degrees or doctorates can also opt to become educators in nursing programs.  Opportunities are available to teach clinical courses, as well as those that focus on administrative aspects of nursing like legislative reporting requirements.

For nurses whose priority is not additional education or working in an educational setting, there is another alternative.  These professionals might prefer employment as a per diem or travel nurse.  Nurse management jobs are numerous.  Employers frequently also provide assistance for housing and relocation expenses.

Related Specialties

There are managers in every area of nursing.  However, for current nurse managers, these three specialties might be of particular interest:

  • Nursing service directors work primarily in large hospitals, where they oversee particular services.  Their management experience is particularly valuable in coordinating all aspects of areas such as critical care, surgical services, and women’s health.

  • Administrators of establishments such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often former nurse managers.  Their knowledge of both the administrative aspects of health care and the clinical aspects of patient care makes them an ideal choice for this executive position.

  • Nurse Life Care Planners work for hospitals, insurance companies, or law firms, or as independent contractors.  They interact with individuals who have a chronic illness, birth injury, sudden debilitating illness, or a traumatic injury as case managers and patient advocates.  This specialty is particularly of interest to nurse managers who enjoy clinical responsibilities.  The relevant certification is Certified Nurse Life Care Planner ( CNLCP ) .

Further Your Career

The demand for workers in nurse management will continue to expand due to the passage of recent federal healthcare legislation, the graying of America, and the current emphasis on preventive care.  For nurses who are able to inspire, lead, and motivate other professionals, a career in management is a great match.  Job vacancies are plentiful, making this the perfect time to consider becoming a nurse manager.

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript,, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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