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Nurse Manager Salary and Job Description

Written by: North Carolina Central University   •  Sep 27, 2023
Nurse manager talking to another nurse in a health care facility.

Nurse Manager Salary and Job Description

The role of the nurse manager has never been more critical. As medical institutions navigate complex challenges, from technological advancements to changing patient demographics, demand is rising for skilled nurse managers who can bridge the gap between administrative duties and clinical care.

These indispensable professionals not only ensure the smooth operation of health care units, but also play a pivotal role in patient outcomes, staff satisfaction, and the overall quality of care. The nurse manager salary and long-term growth potential reflect just how important these professionals are.

Those who want to pursue a career as a nurse manager should understand the role’s responsibilities, salary range, job outlook, and educational requirements.

What Do Nurse Managers Do?

Nurse managers are integral figures in the health care ecosystem, blending both clinical and administrative expertise. They oversee specific departments or units within hospitals, clinics, or other health care facilities, serving as a critical touchpoint for personnel.

Where Do Nurse Managers Work?

Nurse managers work in various health care settings, depending on their expertise, their interests, and the needs of the institutions in their areas. Common places where nurse managers find employment include the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Home health care agencies
  • Specialized clinics (dialysis, wound care, pain management)
  • Academic institutions
  • Public health departments
  • Corporate health clinics
  • Telehealth services

Key Responsibilities for Nurse Managers

Nurse managers wear many hats, ensuring that their units run efficiently while maintaining high standards of patient care. Their primary responsibilities include the following:

  • Staffing and supervision. Hiring, training, and evaluating nursing staff, ensuring that their unit maintains required staffing levels and that nurses are competent in their roles.
  • Budgeting and resource allocation. Managing the budget of their unit to provide adequate resources and make purchasing decisions related to equipment and supplies.
  • Quality and patient care standards. Implementing and upholding standards of care in compliance with regulations and leading initiatives to improve patient outcomes.
  • Coordination and communication. Serving as liaisons between the nursing staff and higher-level administrators, physicians, and other health care professionals.
  • Professional development. Promoting continued education and training opportunities for themselves and the nursing team to ensure the highest quality of patient care.
  • Strategic planning. Collaborating with senior management in decision-making processes, guiding the direction of patient care, and participating in facility-wide initiatives.

What Are the Qualifications to Become a Nurse Manager?

To secure a competitive nurse manager salary, you must start with a foundation as a registered nurse (RN). This requires completing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) followed by successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to gain licensure. Most health care institutions mandate that nurse managers hold a minimum of a BSN.

Advanced Education

Further educational qualifications can be advantageous due to the administrative and leadership nature of the role. While not required, many nurse managers pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Health Administration (MHA), or Master of Business Administration (MBA). Certifications can also bolster one’s qualifications: The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) offers the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential for those who meet specific educational and experiential criteria and pass an examination.


Beyond formal education, experience plays a crucial role in qualifying for a nurse manager position. Aspiring nurse managers should have several years of clinical experience as an RN. This hands-on experience ensures that they’re familiar with the day-to-day challenges of nursing and can empathize with and guide their team effectively.


Soft skills such as leadership, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking are also important for aspiring nurse managers. A successful nurse manager has to not only understand clinical care but also motivate a team, manage budgets, handle conflicts, and liaise effectively with other departments and upper management.

Nurse Manager Salary and Job Outlook

According to Payscale, the average annual nurse manager salary is about $93,950 as of September 2023. While this figure can vary based on factors such as experience level and geographic location, all nurse managers can expect competitive pay due to the high demand for their unique skill set.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects demand for medical and health services managers, including nurse managers, to grow by 28% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. An average of 54,700 openings for medical and health services managers are projected each year, with many of those openings resulting from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

All things considered, the nurse manager salary and job outlook are strong not only today but also for years to come. As health care systems continue to evolve, nurse managers will be a significant part of leading the charge, making them cornerstone pieces of any institution’s strategy.

Take the First Step to Becoming a Nurse Manager

Before becoming a nurse manager, you should start by earning your BSN. If you’re already licensed as an RN in the state of North Carolina, you can earn your BSN through North Carolina Central University Online’s RN to BSN program. With a generous transfer policy and flexible, online format, NCCU Online’s program enables registered nurses of all backgrounds to complete their BSN on a schedule that works for them.

Employers tout our program for producing outstanding graduates who make a difference in their community. Could one of them be you? Learn more about the online RN to BSN today.


American Nurses Association, Charge Nurse vs. Nurse Manager: What’s the Difference?  

American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Certified Nurse Manager and Leader Certification

Indeed, Nurse Manager: What They Do, Skills and Job Requirements  

Payscale, Average Nursing Manager Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

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