How Do I Become a Nurse Instructor?

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Dear Counselor,

The new year has got me thinking about where I’m going with my nursing career. I’ve been working for 7 years as an LPN and want to become a nursing teacher, teaching LPNs and maybe RNs. What is the best way to go if I want to be a nursing instructor? Thank you. Holly


Hello Holly,

So, you want to be a nursing instructor. This is a great choice for many nurses because there is a shortage of nursing teachers. Many schools are turning away potential nursing students because the schools don’t have the staff. This problem will need to be resolved soon because as more nursing jobs become available because of retirements, more patients needing care, and a broader scope professional activity for nurses.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a nursing instructor in the United States is around $61,000


Your first step in your journey in becoming a nursing instructor is to go back to school to become a registered nurse. You can do this in a couple of ways:

- LPN-to-RN program, associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) level
- LPN-to-RN program, bachelor’s of nursing degree (BSN) level

The path you choose will depend on:

- Your ability to meet the admission requirements for the nursing schools
- Your financial status
- Your physical location
- Your timeline

Starting With an ADN program

Time-wise, this could be the least attractive option open to someone in your position – with an LPN and striving to become a nursing instructor. However, financially, it could be a good idea.

Starting with the positive, if you obtain your ADN, you may work as a registered nurse – at a higher pay level than the LPN salary – while you continue to go to school. The program is about two years long overally. This may make it easier for you to reach your goal.

The second benefit is if you have your associate’s degree, you will have done your hands-on learning (clinicals), which makes it a good bet that you could do your BSN online, through distance learning if that what you would like to do.
The drawback to this plan is once you have your ADN, you will still have to obtain your BSN, making your time in school that much longer.

Going Straight into a BSN Program

If going straight to university is your plan, you will have to ensure that you have all the pre-requisites before applying for a spot as a student nurse. BSN programs usually take about four years to complete (full-time).

Once you graduate with your BSN, it may be possible to find nursing instructor jobs in technical colleges for LPNs or LVNs, or you may be able to teach certified nursing assistant (CNA) courses. Some nursing schools hire clinical instructors who only do the clinical supervision and other teachers do the academic, in-class teaching.

If your goal is to go even further down the educational path, once you have your BSN, your next step is your master’s degree in nursing (MSN). If you are interested in an online nursing school, this can be option for you if you are going the BSN-to-MSN route. One of the main advantages of an online nursing program is the ability to study from home on your own schedule. However, not everyone is able to study independently, so you need to assess the situation and decide if online learning is for you.

Good luck in your studies. Since nursing instructors are in demand, you would be helping future nurses and all the people who they will be caring for over the coming years.

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