Do I Need to be Certified to be a Nurse Administrator?

Certified to be a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators must have an extensive education and experience, but many wonder if they need to be certified to be a nurse administrator. Nurse administrators are advanced-practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have high-level responsibilities. These  include overseeing the nursing staff and making both administrative and clinical decisions regarding nursing and healthcare in general. Nurse administrators play an important role in the efficiency and production of their staff.

What is a Nurse Administrator?

A nurse administrator is a highly-trained and educated APRN who oversees the nursing staff and deals with personnel issues. They usually work in hospitals but may also work in large medical facilities. A nurse administrator may work in just one hospital or may work for several hospitals within a healthcare system. They have many duties including:

  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Develop and maintain budgets
  • Handles financial matters
  • Recruit, hire and train nurses
  • Ensure nursing staff is in compliance with laws
  • Conduct performance evaluations
  • Act as liaison between nursing staff, departments and hospital management
  • Decide what equipment is needed and must be purchased

How to Become a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators must possess post-graduate nursing degrees and have extensive nursing experience. They must first complete an accredited undergraduate nursing degree program and obtain a license as a registered nurse (RN) by passing the NCLEX-RN. Once this is completed, the RN must complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree program. Some aspiring nurse administrators choose a doctoral degree in nursing or a master’s degree in nurse administration.

Courses in a nurse administration program might include:

  • healthcare finance
  • organizational management
  • safety in the healthcare setting
  • quality and risk
  • informatics
  • healthcare policies
  • leadership and management
  • advanced health assessment

Candidates must also possess skills in:

  • good leadership
  • decision-making
  • communication

Depending on if the candidate chooses the master’s or doctoral degree program, he or she may complete the degree in two to four years after earning the bachelor’s degree. Many college and universities offer nursing and nursing administration programs as online or hybrid programs.


Nurse administrators must have CPR certification. Nurse administrators are not required by law to hold a nurse administrator certification, but many employers prefer to hire nurse administrators who are certified. indicates that there are a couple of different certifications available to the nurse administrator. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers both the Nurse Executive credential and the Nurse Executive-Advanced credential.

The Executive Nursing Practice certification is available through the American Organization of Nurse Executives. To obtain any nurse administrator certification, the candidate must meet certain eligibility requirements. Although they may vary depending on the certification requested, some common requirements include:

  • Hold an active RN license
  • Have at least a nursing bachelor’s degree
  • Have working experience in this field
  • Have completed a certain number of continuing education credits

Career Outlook

The increasing need to provide better healthcare to more patients has created a demand for nurse administrators. Medical and health services managers are expected to see a job growth of 20% from 2016-2026 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals earned annual wages that range from $58,350 to $176,130 with the average wage at $111,680 as of May 2017.

Working as a nurse administrator can be an extremely rewarding career not just for the wages but also because a nurse administrator has the opportunity to improve the healthcare patients receive. The best way for nurse administrators to make themselves marketable to potential employers is to obtain nurse administrator certification.

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