Building a Career in Nursing Management (With 7 Jobs)

Updated June 30, 2023

A nurse manager facilitates communication between nursing staff and upper management in hospitals and other medical care facilities. If you enjoy working in management roles and wish to enter the nursing field, a career in nursing management might be right for you. Understanding the various job duties and steps to enter this career path may help increase your job satisfaction.

In this article, we explore how to begin a career in the nursing management field and discuss the primary tasks and seven potential career paths.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

What is nursing management?

Nursing management is the role of a specialist serving as a leader for health care and nursing teams. Someone working as a nurse manager can help make their health care facility make informed decisions for various areas, such as standard practices and processes and hiring decisions. This leadership role can ensure the entire staff provides the same high-quality care and attention to each patient in the facility. Additionally, nursing managers have standard functions like planning, organizing, staffing and directing.

Read more: Nursing Leadership and Management: Role Definitions and Differences

A health care professional dressed in white looks over information on a clipboard in a clinical setting.

Nursing manager duties

The primary responsibility of a nursing manager is to maintain communication between nursing staff and personnel in upper management. Nurse managers also oversee the staff nurses to provide any support they might require, including assigning specialized staff to specific rooms and assisting patients' visiting family members. Additionally, they might interview and hire new nursing staff and train them.

Another aspect of working as a nursing manager involves helping nurses implement electronic health records, which hold patient information and provide access to it over the internet or a local computer server. As some hospitals might not have a system for e-health records, a nurse manager can explain how to use, file and access them as a physician or a patient. These nurse leaders can also use electronic health records to oversee the training of new nurses and keep track of progress.

Read more: Nurse Manager: What They Do, Skills and Job Requirements

How to get into nursing management

Here are a few steps for starting a career in nursing management:

1. Become a registered nurse (RN)

Complete the steps for becoming a RN, including earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and conducting clinical observations before beginning practice. Registered nurses also obtain a license from their state after passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and maintain their license while they continue practicing. Some RNs also pursue certifications or further education, like getting an advanced degree in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), so they can specialize in a specific area of nursing, such as pediatrics or mental health care.

When you become an RN, consider joining a nursing organization for more career development resources:

  • American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN)

  • American Nurses Association (ANA)

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

  • National League for Nursing (NLN)

2. Work as a nurse for at least five years

Gain experience by working as a nurse for at least five years. This can offer opportunities to hone your nursing skills through field experience, especially bedside experience, and observing other nurses on the job. Nurses can work in hospitals, home care, clinics or mental health facilities. After five years, some institutions promote their internal RNs.

Additionally, gaining experience prior to becoming a nurse manager can help you develop practical skills, such as:

  • Standard medical and nursing concepts

  • Management skills

  • Leadership skills

  • Bedside manners

  • Patient care

  • Empathy

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Effective communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Conflict resolution

  • Time management

Read more: How To Gain Work Experience in Nursing

3. Complete an advanced degree

This is an optional step, but you can enroll in an advanced education program that allows you to focus on nursing administration. Many aspiring nurse managers pursue a master's degree in nursing, health care or business administration. These students can also take master's-level classes on nursing practices like ethics and nursing administration. Completing a Master of Science degree in Nursing takes two to five years after completing undergraduate work.

Although this step is optional, it can help increase your knowledge and confidence in this role. Earning advanced credentials may help you differentiate yourself from other RNs with similar qualifications.

Related: What Is Nursing Administration? Duties and Certifications

4. Obtain certification

Nurses can become certified as a Nurse Executive or Nurse Executive Advanced by passing an exam that the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) gives. To obtain this certification, the organization requires nurses to have worked in administrative nursing positions, like as a midlevel administrator or college educator in nursing administration, for at least two years. They also require candidates to show proof of continuing education in nursing administration in the past three years.

Read more: 7 Nursing Certificate Programs and Their Requirements

5. Learn about HIPAA

You may find it helpful when working toward nurse management to learn about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Following HIPAA is crucial for those working in health care because it strengthens confidence and trust between patients and their health care providers. This federal policy establishes boundaries about the usage of medical records, including keeping the records private and undisclosed to the public.

Additionally, learning about accrediting organizations that inspect hospitals and various health care facilities, especially those observing nursing operations, like The Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Related: Health Care Skills: Definition and Examples

7 jobs in nurse management

Nurse managers can work in several careers involving nursing administration. Here are seven jobs in nursing management you can pursue. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.

1. Clinic coordinator

National average salary: $48,144 per year

Primary duties: A clinic coordinator manages the daily operations of a health care facility. They might work in hospitals, clinics or patient care facilities, such as nursing homes or mental health facilities. Clinic coordinators maintain communication across departments and oversee patient care to ensure it meets all standards.

Related: How To Become a Clinical Coordinator

2. Clinical nurse educator

National average salary: $93,465 per year

Primary duties: A clinical nurse educator teaches nursing students about best practices in nursing. These nurses schedule and host clinical observations of work in a health care facility, usually where they work as RNs. Additionally, clinical nurse educators can educate students in a classroom, but most of their teaching is during clinical work.

Related: How To Become a Nurse Educator in 7 Steps (With FAQs)

3. Nurse consultant

National average salary: $94,878 per year

Primary duties: A nurse consultant offers advice on how to improve practices within a health care organization. Their responsibilities include observing health care facilities and evaluating their nursing and medical practices. Nurse consultants can work as clinical consultants, legal consultants or operations consultants.

4. Nursing supervisor

National average salary: $95,707 per year

Primary duties: A nursing supervisor oversees a nursing team and leads them through daily operations. Nursing supervisors ensure their team works efficiently and adheres to organizational and federal regulations. These specialists can also help improve their organizations by identifying improvement areas.

5. Director of nursing

National average salary: $96,380 per year

Primary duties: A director of nursing manages the nurses in an organization and evaluates their performance. They can implement new practices, like sanitation protocol and care standards, within an organization. Directors of nursing work with all staff members in their organization to ensure the correct information reaches everyone.

Read more: Learn About Being a Director of Nursing

6. Clinical nurse manager

National average salary: $113,106 per year

Primary duties: A clinical nurse manager performs the duties of a nurse manager and completes clinical tasks. This might involve working with physicians to develop plans for treatment or completing rounds to oversee patient care by other nurses. Additionally, clinical nursing managers can hire and promote nursing staff and help manage patient satisfaction.

Related: 7 Examples of Nurse Manager Skills and Their Definitions

7. Chief nursing officer

National average salary: $137,877 per year

Primary duties: A chief nursing officer oversees the implementation of new nursing practices across a health care organization. This work can involve providing research to staff for reference and making the information readable and accessible. Usually, chief nursing officers work for large health care organizations or corporations, so they're responsible for communicating with numerous people.

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