Nurse Manager Career Overview

How to Become a Nurse Manager
If you are a RN or LPN and enjoy working within the nursing career field, you may want to explore options in becoming a nurse manager. Becoming a nurse manager allows you to advance in your career and to serve in an administrative role in the field of nursing and healthcare administration.

What does a nurse manager do?

Nurse managers are responsible for the operation of a hospital, clinic, or medical facility. The nurse manager directs, leads, and supervises the nursing staff and helps the facility continue to run smoothly and handle any problems that might arise.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nursing Managers

The salary and job outlook for nursing managers is positive. Nurse managers are all registered nurses (RNs), so this education is required before you can apply as a nursing manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there is an expected increase of 19 percent in the nursing manager career by the year 2022. Growth for this industry is expected to grow at a faster rate than was expected in the past.

Salaries for nurse managers was around $80,707 according to PayScale, a respected online pay scale reporting site and this is backed up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics when they reported that the median RN pay was $65,470 or $31.48 per hour.

It is estimated that the average pay for nursing managers in the next few years could hit around $108,000 or more. A quick look at several job postings shows hiring salaries of well into the six figures.

It is expected that there will be an increased need for nursing managers shortly as the need for skilled RNs increases and more hospitals and clinics open up and expand to fit the need of local communities.

Education Requirements of a Nurse Manager

To become a nurse manager, you must attend an accredited university or college and obtain a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree. If you have an LPN currently, you would need to first return to school to obtain the credits necessary to sit for the RN exam before applying for a nurse manager position. Upon credit completion, you will need to pass a board exam called the NCLEX-RN to receive a nursing license. There are other paths to a BSN as well – if you already are a Registered Nurse, you can complete an Accelerated BSN and earn your BSN in as little as nine months with certain programs.

About the BSN

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can be earned prior to getting your RN, called a Pre-Licensure BSN, or post-RN or LPN, which means you go back to school after earning your RN or LPN license.

Depending on your situation, there are various ways you can earn the BSN necessary to start a career as a Nurse Manager. Take a look at the BSN program that describes your situation best:

Accelerated BSN
Pre-Licensure BSN

Day-in-the-Life of a Nurse Manager

A day-in-the-life of a nurse manager consists of various duties that utilize a wide variety of skills. Nurse managers must be well-rounded and able to manage workflow, staffing, hiring, legal issues and much more. The job requires organization, critical thinking, and strong general knowledge of patient care. They must have an understanding of the laws and regulations that govern the medical and nursing industries and how to apply them in the real world.

A nurse manager is responsible for making sure their clinic, hospital area or ambulatory center is compliant, following best practices from both a safety and a legal standpoint, and that the nurses are also following all necessary processes and procedures. In a typical day, a nurse manager may deal with a legal issue involving patient care, hire a new employee, prepare a monthly report for the hospital board, and tour a facility to ensure compliance to all processes and procedures.

Where Nurse Managers Can Work

Nurse managers will find a variety of work environments and roles to choose from when they apply for work after the completion of their course requirements. Supervision of nursing staffs is needed in a variety of settings and facilities so the need for nurse managers will only increase. Nurse managers do more than work with people, they work with circulation of patients and can run and open centers all with minimal supervision.

Doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals are all suitable environments for nursing managers to pursue work with provided they have the skills they need to do the job.

Experience Needed

Once your basic degree requirements have been completed, you should seek out ways to gain the experience you need to sharpen your skills in the required areas. To make yourself more employable, you should focus on getting at least five years of experience in your role as a RN before applying for a nurse manager position.

Many nurse managers started by working at a particular facility as a nurse for a number of years, then applied for the nurse manager position in that same facility when it opened up.

If you plan to apply for this administrative position, you may also want to pursue your Master’s in Healthcare or Business Administration (MHA/MBA) before applying. Even if you have started the degree but not finished it yet, pursuing this degree may give you an edge on your competition.

Skills and Abilities of Nurse Managers

Nurse managers must possess different kinds of skills from traditional nursing that help them to handle all of the various responsibilities they will be asked to do on their jobs. They need to be direct, comfortable with paperwork, management, leadership and also have a strong understanding of the type of medicine being practiced in their facility.

They are responsible for making sure the nursing staff makes its rounds on a schedule that works for the patients in the facility, and that important things are not forgotten in the rapid pace of the day. The job is often fast-paced and demanding, and managers of nursing staff must be able to coordinate different projects including managing budgets, handling business-related tasks, and dealing with personnel matters.


When preparing for a new career as a nurse manager, you should also be aware of the certifications that you will need for this position. The only required certification is that of RN which gives you the right to practice nursing in your state of residence. Additionally, you may want to apply for additional optional certifications to add to your credentials and increase your career options.

Getting Started as a Nurse Manager

If you seek a career as a nurse manager, you should start by getting your RN degree if you do not have this yet. Then you should work toward getting work experience in the field of nursing for a few years in a respected clinic or facility while working on your skills.

You must pass the NCLEX-RN to work as a nurse or to apply for the position of the nurse manager. If you obtain your master’s degree, you will be better qualified to perform the many diverse duties that are expected of you in your career.

Start by searching for schools that allow you to focus on a well-planned four-year degree in Nursing followed by opportunities to sit for the NCLEX exam and master’s level programs in the area of nursing.

If you love helping people and have a passion for nursing, becoming a nurse manager is one of the best ways to increase the level of good you can do that will affect thousands of people in your community and state. As a nurse manager, you have the ability to impact all patients that go through your facility, and you also have an ability to make the necessary changes in patient care and nursing processes, so your hospital or center has the highest standard of care.

Nurse Manager Associations

As a nurse manager, you’ll want to be associated with other like-minded professionals, so you can share insights and best practices. Some of these organizations include:

The American Association of Nurse Executives (AONE)

AONE is the voice of nursing leadership, with an annual conference. In addition to a member forum, they are involved in advocacy and education. They offer the CNML and the CENP certification.


Bureau of Labor Statistics

CCNE Association