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Clinical Nurse Educator

Clinical nurse educators provide on-going instruction in areas that improve the quality of care provided by staff and other caregivers. They often work in hospitals or clinics but can also be found teaching in academic settings. 

Clinical nurse educators schedule and deliver continuing education in the form of in-services either in person or via webinars. They design their teaching plans based on educational learning theories, nursing theories, and students' needs. Clinical nurse educators are devoted to bringing knowledge to others and seeking ways to energize and motivate their students.

Education Requirements

All nurse specialty areas require an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. Nurses with ADN degrees will need to obtain their BSN first or attend either a BSN to MSN or BSN to doctoral degree program.

Before attending a clinical education program, nurses typically have three to five years of experience working as an RN in the specialty area that they intend to teach.

How to advance/career pathway

Clinical nurse educators must be BCLS certified but may also need ACLS certification.  

While some educational settings only require a BSN degree, most prefer you obtain an MSN or doctoral degree with an emphasis in education or additional graduate-level credit in acceptable education courses.  

After obtaining your MSN or doctoral degree, there are two certifications you can pursue: Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) or Academic Clinical Nurse Educator Certification (CNEcl).


  • Provide staff instruction in areas of clinical education, procedural care, or any newly identified need by the administration
  • Provide input in staff’s performance evaluations
  • Identify areas that would benefit from increased teaching to improve safety, compliance or accuracy of staff actions
  • Arrange schedules for the education of staff and train others who will assist in teaching
  • Document the entire process with timelines and design follow-up testing methods after training is completed


How to become a

Clinical Nurse Educator

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Have three to five years of clinical experience working as an RN in a specialty area
  4. Apply and complete either an MSN or doctoral program to become a clinical educator
  5. Apply for your Clinical Nurse Educator Certification (CNE) after meeting prerequisites.

Specialty Groups and Communities

National League of Nursing (NLN)

  • Mission: “The National League for Nursing promotes excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of our nation and the global community.”
  • Cost: $80-160, annually.
  • Perks: Gain access to substantial savings and privileges at NLN meetings, savings on products and resources, free or substantially discounted access to premier NLN publications like the research journal Nursing Education Perspectives, and more.

Professional Nurse Educator Group (PNEG)

  • Mission: “[T]o provide a learning community for professionals committed to improving health care and the organizations they serve through education.”
  • Cost: No formal cost.
  • Perks: Access to a community of professional nurse educators, collaboration among members, a forum for networking, exchange mentorship support, and more.

The Pros

  • Have a regular Monday through Friday schedule with predictable hours
  • Holidays and weekends (usually) off
  • Autonomy in designing education programs
  • Satisfaction seeing nursing students succeed

The Cons

  • Less direct patient care
  • Preparing for lectures can take a lot of time
  • Other administrative duties can also be time-consuming
  • Under appreciation of the value of being an educator
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Personality Traits

  • Enjoys research
  • Strong clinical background
  • Excellent communicator
  • Leadership and mentoring skills
  • Commitment to learning
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Average Salary

Clinical nurse educators typically make between $55k - $101k, with a median salary of $75,695. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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National League of Nursing (NLN) certification

  • Certified Nurse Educator (CNE)
  • Academic Clinical Nurse Educator Certification (CNEcl)
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Work Setting

Hospitals, colleges, technical schools of nursing, and other clinical settings

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Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a Clinical Nurse Educator? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does a Clinical Nurse Educator Do?