Career Profile: Nursing Professor Salaries, Skills and Responsibilities

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A nursing professor helps students during a lab class.

Are you ready to explore how to become a nursing professor, what the average nursing professor salaries are and what this career entails? Let’s take a closer look at the skills, responsibilities and salary estimation for a nursing professor. Find out what experience is needed and how an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Bradley University can help you enter this rewarding profession.

What Do Nursing Professors Do?

Nursing professors are nurse educators in every sense: They are nurses who teach future nurses. Members of this rewarding profession can work in public and private universities and colleges, as well as hospital-based nursing schools.

Many of the job responsibilities of nursing professors are similar to those of other postsecondary educators. Aspects of the job include:

  • Developing course syllabi
  • Teaching lectures and lab classes in their subject area
  • Assigning and evaluating student assignments and exams
  • Serving in an advisory role for students in their program
  • Collaborating with other faculty members on developing programs and curricula
  • Conducting nursing research and presenting findings at professional health care conferences
  • Remaining engaged in the latest innovations in their field beyond the classroom

Nursing faculty members may specialize in a nursing field such as informatics or public health. Some balance part-time teaching responsibilities with clinical practice, while others are full-time professors. This career path may also lead to other leadership opportunities such as serving as a committee leader or college dean.

What Is the Average Nursing Professor Salary?

Nursing faculty salary ranges can vary depending on the school and location as well as the professor’s experience level. Nurse educators employed at highly competitive academic institutions hold some of the highest-paying positions.

Assessing a variety of sources is a helpful way to understand the potential average annual salary for professors in nursing schools. Salary scales and estimates across job board sites may be more recent, but they can skew significantly higher or lower than the data registered with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The most helpful way to gauge your actual earning potential is to search for job openings in your region and take a close look at the qualifications and annual salaries listed.

To help pinpoint the average salary for a nursing professor, let’s consider a few figures listed by the BLS and a few popular job boards and salary range aggregators.

According to the BLS, the median rate for all postsecondary faculty salaries was $79,540 in May 2019. Within that category, nursing professor salaries averaged $74,600 in May 2019. For comparison, this is slightly higher than the median registered nurse salary, which was $73,300 in May 2019.

More recent data from suggests in June 2020, the average nurse professor salary for earners in the 25th percentile could be up to $77,251. Those with higher salaries in the 75th percentile earned at least $140,721 per year. placed the average annual salary for nursing professors in the 50th percentile at $95,891, a much higher rate than the BLS.

A handful of other job board sites cited lower earnings than the BLS and PayScale reported median annual earnings of $69,797 in May 2020. Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter reported national average salaries of $65,870 and $66,299 in June 2020.

If you are exploring nursing professor jobs, remember to take these variable salary ranges with a grain of salt. The best way to ensure the highest possible salary is to prepare yourself with the right education, take advantage of experiential learning opportunities, develop a professional network and keep searching for the right position.

Wherever you might land along the spectrum of nursing professor salaries, know that all of these figures are significantly higher than the median annual earnings across all occupations, which the BLS reported at $39,810 in May 2020.

What Skills and Experiences Do You Need to Become a Nursing Professor?

Entry into the nursing education field requires a specific set of skills and qualifications and several years of experience. To become a nursing professor, you must be a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) as well as a graduate degree holder.

First, you will need to complete a postsecondary program that will put you on the path to earning your nursing license and becoming a registered nurse. While it’s possible to become an RN with a nursing diploma or associate degree, you will need to earn at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to be considered for one of the advanced degrees required for a nursing professorship.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s degree, then progress toward a doctorate in nursing, such as an online Doctor of Nursing Practice. Not all universities will hire nursing professors without a doctorate, and the terminal degree can allow access to higher nursing professor salaries.

Beyond these education requirements, you may also choose to earn a certification in education or a nursing specialty. It’s also possible to join a professional membership organization such as the National League for Nursing. This group offers research grants, focuses on public policy initiatives, and provides networking and professional development opportunities specifically for nursing educators.

Prepare for a Nursing Professor Career with an Online DNP

Bradley University’s innovative online Doctor of Nursing Practice program unites a rigorous academic experience and student-centered learning environment with the flexibility to follow your own path. The DNP in Leadership is an excellent choice for master’s-prepared RNs who have the initiative and drive to excel in the nursing field.

Students benefit from personalized support and instruction from experienced clinicians who are passionate about teaching. Plus, they gain real-world practice experience and can complete clinical hours on a more flexible schedule within their community.

To learn more about Bradley University’s online DNP curriculum and admissions requirements, connect with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

Online DNP Program at Bradley University

What Can You Do With an Online Doctor of Nursing Practice?

What’s the Difference Between Nurse Advocacy and Nurse Lobbying?

What’s the Difference Between Descriptive and Inferential Statistics?


BLS — Postsecondary Teachers

Glassdoor — Nursing Professor Salaries

PayScale — Average Nursing Professor Salary — Professor of Nursing Salary in the United States

ZipRecruiter — Nursing Professor Salary