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4 Teaching Careers with a BSN Degree

Updated on January 9, 2014
You can use your nursing degree to become a teacher
You can use your nursing degree to become a teacher

When most of us envision a career in nursing, we see ourselves caring for patients in hospital wards, physicians’ offices or medical clinics. One healthcare field that you may not have considered is actually in very high demand – becoming a nursing educator.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that a shortage of nursing instructors around the country has limited the number of new nurses who can be trained for the profession. More than 75,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools in 2011 because of faculty shortages, budget constraints, classroom space and other factors, according to an AACN survey. About two-thirds of those schools cited a lack of teachers as a key factor.

The AACN survey found 1,181 nursing faculty vacancies at 662 nursing schools around the country, resulting in a national vacancy rate for instructors of 7.6 percent. In addition, the schools reported that they needed to add more than 100 additional teachers to handle current student demand. The study also predicted a large number of faculty retirements in the next decade, further aggravating the teacher shortage problem.

With nursing instructors in such demand, a career as a nursing teacher could be a wise choice for students who are interested in healthcare and the salaries can be lucrative. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said post-secondary nursing teachers made an average annual income of $68,640 in 2012.

Although most of these jobs require a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), many nursing schools are offering programs aimed at making it easier for registered nurses to get baccalaureate degrees. Those educational choices include traditional BSN programs, accelerated BSN degrees, and RN to BSN online degrees, among others.

Interested in a career as a nursing instructor? Here are four job fields to consider:

1. College nursing teachers

About 28,080 nurses currently work as college, university or professional school nursing educators, earning an average annual wage of $70,890 in 2012, according to the BLS. These jobs require at least a BSN and often a graduate degree. Another 20,750 nursing teachers work in junior colleges, where the average annual salary is $64,760.

All of these college-level instructors work primarily in:

  • Academic settings
  • Teaching classes
  • Preparing lesson plans
  • Supervising clinical work or laboratories
  • Grading assignments and
  • Keeping student records

Some of these teachers also may be involved in scientific research projects, particularly at the university level. They may be called instructors, or they may earn the title of professor, assistant professor or associate professor.

2. Post-secondary technical, vocational or trade school teachers

About 3,500 nursing instructors worked in post-secondary technical, vocational and trade schools in 2012. The average annual income for these teachers was $61,300, according to the BLS. Most of these nursing educators would be required to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. On the job, these nursing professionals would prepare students to receive diplomas or certificates by preparing class work, teaching academic courses, overseeing laboratory courses, testing and grading school work.

3. Vocational, technical or trade school teachers in secondary schools

Some vocational high schools and other secondary schools also offer pre-nursing program or nurses’ aide training. These teachers typically also would have earned a bachelor’s degree, depending on the school district. Nursing instructors would be responsible for preparing their students to enter the healthcare field by teaching basic nursing skills and by supervising clinical experiences. The BLS did not report nursing-specific wages for public and private high school nursing programs.

4. Hospital nursing instructors

General medical and surgical hospitals employed about 2,630 nursing instructors in 2012, according to the BLS. Although their numbers are small, these nursing educators had among the highest salaries for nursing teachers in the labor bureau’s report. The average wage for these nursing instructors was $80,440 annually. These instructors prepare nurses for careers in the healthcare field through hospital-based nurse training programs. Another small category of hospital nursing instructors – those working at psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals – made an average annual salary of $79,430, the BLS reported.

Job projections and salaries for nursing educators vary from state to state. According to federal estimates, the states with the highest numbers of nursing teachers were:

  • Texas
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • California and
  • Pennsylvania

The highest salaries paid to nursing instructors were found in:

  • Maryland
  • California
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey and
  • Delaware

In almost any state you choose, nursing faculty are in demand and will continue to be needed to fill many anticipated job vacancies in coming years.


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