Perhaps as a child, you always wanted to be a teacher -- except when you wanted to be a nurse. Now that you're an adult, you can figure out how to be both. Teaching and nursing are not mutually exclusive careers. Be a nurse who teaches the next generation of nurses.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, driven by an aging population with multiple health needs. Unfortunately, this projection comes at a time when nursing schools have been experiencing faculty shortages. The shortages are a result of aging faculty members, budget constraints and competition from clinical sites, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or AACN. The AACN also notes salary disparities between nursing faculty and other RNs who have master's degrees. In 2011, nursing faculty members with master's degrees earned an annual average salary of $72,028, while nurse practitioners -- who hold also master's degrees -- earned $91,310 a year.
If you want to teach in a nursing program, start by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Although many states require a master’s or doctorate for nursing faculty, a bachelor’s degree may help you to obtain a position as an assistant instructor in some nursing programs. In addition, a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing. To increase your career opportunities and chances for professional advancement, go for an advanced degree.
Nursing programs offer a variety of faculty positions. A clinical teaching assistant is usually an experienced RN who works directly with nursing students on basic skills, under the supervision of a nursing instructor. Assistant instructors help nursing instructors supervise and teach, but they cannot assume full responsibility for a course. Instructors are responsible for the overall education of a nursing class and may perform other tasks, such as curriculum development. In most colleges and universities, nursing professors teach advanced courses. Nursing deans supervise the entire nursing program at universities and colleges and may also teach.
Just as each state regulates the practice of nursing, each state determines the requirements to teach in nursing programs. In Maryland, for example, the minimum qualification for a faculty position is a master’s degree and a current RN license. However, a doctoral degree in nursing or a related field is preferred for faculty who teach in master’s degree programs. Although faculty in registered nurse programs in Texas must have a master’s or doctorate, advanced degrees are not required to teach in a vocational nursing program. California requires an instructor to have a master’s degree in nursing, education or administration. An assistant instructor must have a baccalaureate.
2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Faculty Shortage
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing: New AACN Data Show an Enrollment Surge in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs Amid Calls for More Highly Educated Nurses
- Texas Board of Nursing: Education FAQ's - Faculty
- ITeachNursing.org: Summary of Requirements
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses
- Career Trend: Registered Nurses
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.