How to Become a Manager in Nursing

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Written by Kathleen Walder Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Morganne Skinner, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurse managing team member

There are many ways to move forward in your career as a nurse. One option is gaining enough experience to become a manager in nursing. But do you know how to become a nurse manager? Let’s look at what it takes to be in management, the financial advantages of the position, and the steps required to become a nurse manager.

What Is a Nurse Manager?

The job of a nurse manager blends caring for patients and managing a unit in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare setting. It’s a great way to use everything you’ve learned as a nurse and apply it to a management position.

A nurse manager is the first level of management in nursing, followed by director of nursing, chief nursing officer, and healthcare administrator. You’ll find nurse manager positions in hospitals, surgical centers, clinics, private practices, nursing homes, and emergency rooms.

What Does a Manager in Nursing Do?

In short, a nurse manager has the decision-making and supervisory responsibility to oversee the daily operation of a unit and supervise its nursing staff. It can be a hands-on position, with the nurse manager also occasionally providing direct patient care. Specific management duties include:

  • Recruiting, hiring, and managing nurses
  • Scheduling nurse shifts
  • Providing leadership and mentoring nurses
  • Managing a unit’s budget
  • Addressing patient and family conflicts and concerns
  • Advocating for patients and nurses
  • Overseeing policies and procedures and being a liaison with governing bodies that oversee nursing
  • Maintaining records

What Skills and Education Are Needed to Become a Nurse Manager?

Charting your path toward being a nurse manager begins with getting your RN license. You must then attend a four-year school to earn your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). If you start with an ADN, you can find RN to BSN programs that take less time to complete.

The next step is to get a good base of nursing experience. Ideally, a nurse manager has five years of prior nursing experience, but sometimes two to three years can suffice under the right circumstances. A successful applicant who has thought about how to become a nurse manager rotates through several departments in a hospital to have a broad base of experience.

You can increase your opportunities to become a nurse manager by earning a master’s degree to learn leadership and management skills. This can be a master of science in nursing (MSN), master’s in healthcare (MHA), or master’s in business administration (MBA). You may find schools with programs where you can earn your BSN and MSN simultaneously. An optional post-master’s nursing leadership and management certificate will add to your knowledge and can increase your ability to secure a nurse manager position.

Qualities that are important for a nurse manager include:

  • Diverse clinical expertise
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Leadership qualities
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Analytical skills

How Much Do Nurse Managers Make?

The median annual salary for medical and health services managers is $101,340. Top nurse manager salaries can reach $116,000 plus bonuses and profit-sharing in some cases.

Nurse managers are in demand now — the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of nurse managers to increase by 28% in the next 10 years. That figure is far above the average growth predicted for all other jobs. States with the highest salaries are:

  • New York
  • Washington, DC
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Delaware

Become a Nurse Manager Faster

It can be a challenge to complete the degrees you need to be a manager in nursing while you’re working as a nurse. Take control of your work schedule to fit it around your classes. Find out more by starting your IntelyCare application today.