How to Become a Nursing Manager: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


A nursing manager supervises nursing staff inside hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare facilities. They supervise the day-to-day work of nursing staff, ensure staff comply with procedures, and assist in recruitment and training of nurses. They have to be good with people (both patients and nurses) as well as being experts in the work of the nurses they supervise. Unsurprisingly, nursing managers tend to be experienced nurses, often with advanced degrees.


Annual salaries for nursing managers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. Statistics relating to nursing manager salaries are difficult to come by. But in 2013, the average annual salary for registered nurses working in the U.S. was $68,910 per year, so nursing managers would be expected to make substantially more.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for nursing managers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work as a Nursing Manager

Most statistics don’t separate out nursing managers as a profession. However, California is number one in employment for registered nurses in general, with 250,230 currently working statewide, earning an annual average salary of $90,860. Texas is second in the United States for employment of registered nurses, where 184,890 earn an average salary of $67,580.

Employment and Salary Information for Nursing Managers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a nursing manager. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Nursing Manager?

Nursing managers play a vital role in ensuring healthcare runs smoothly—a motivated and organized nursing staff is the backbone of good health care. Here are some other reasons to consider working toward being a nursing manager:

  • Huge industry. There were about 2.7 million registered nurses in the U.S. in 2012. That means there are a lot of opportunities to advance.
  • Healthcare is growing. The number of registered nurse positions generally is expected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022—much more than the usual job. Someone’s going to have to supervise all those new nurses.
  • Train and mentor nurses. A good nursing manager makes all the nurses under his or her supervision more effective. Once you reach this level, you’ll have a lot of experience to share.
  • Help a lot of people. You make a difference in the lives of many more people than you treat directly. You also help the patients treated by the nurses you train and mentor, plus the patients who benefit from more efficient treatment and care.

Nursing Manager: What You Need To Know

Nursing managers are both nurses and managers—as the name would suggest—and they need to have a strong knowledge of both skill sets, plus an advanced degree in most cases. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Knowledge of Nursing Practice
  • HR Skills
  • Management
  • Administrative Skills
  • Communication

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about nursing manager careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Nursing Manager Careers

Registered Nursing degree

Managers of nursing almost always begin their careers as registered nurses. That means obtaining a registered nursing degree from a college or university. The coursework covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, and social and behavioral sciences.

Nursing administration degree

Many people who go on to become nursing managers have at least some education, in nursing leadership and administration. Courses often have a practical or internship component allowing students to develop their skills.

Some universities offer degrees in nursing administration, which can be a great option for those seeking nursing management and manager level positions. Many people who serve as nursing managers have degrees in nursing or nursing administration at the master’s level.

As nurses themselves, nursing managers need to be certified by their state in the same way as all other registered nurses.