Nurse educators are prepared at the master's or doctoral level and practice as faculty in colleges, universities, hospital-based schools of nursing or technical schools, or as staff development educators in health care facilities. They work with recent high school graduates studying nursing for the first time, nurses pursuing advanced degrees and practicing nurses interested in expanding their knowledge and skills related to care of individuals, families and communities.
At a minimum, nurse educators who work in academic settings must hold a master's degree. In order to be promoted to the upper academic ranks (e.g., associate professor and professor) and to be granted tenure, academic faculty typically must hold an earned doctoral degree. Nurse educators who work in clinical settings must hold the minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing, but more and more institutions are requiring the master's degree for such appointments.
Many master's degree and post-graduate certificate programs are available to prepare nurses specifically for the educator role. These programs, which are sometimes offered online, focus on the skills needed to prepare advanced practice nurses to teach, including instruction on the learning process, curriculum development, student counseling, program evaluation, and the principles of adult education.