25 Best Nursing Leadership & Management Jobs Every Nurse Should Aim for in 2021
Written By: Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Many nurses aim to achieve a position in nursing leadership once they have a few years of clinical experience. Promotion up the nursing career ladder is a natural next step to recognize nursing excellence in your specialty area. But what are the best nursing leadership and management positions? With so many administrative and leadership opportunities in nursing, the array of jobs can be confusing for many. However, this article 25 best nursing leadership and management jobs every nurse should aim for in 2021 should clarify any questions that you may have regarding a nursing administrative career. Read on to explore some exciting nursing leadership options for your next professional move.
WHAT ARE THE BEST LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT JOBS IN NURSING?
(The following are the 25 Best Leadership and Management Jobs in Nursing for 2021.)
1. Hospital Chief Executive OfficerAre you an outstanding leader and dream of becoming a hospital chief executive officer? Hospital CEOs command a top salary, and for many, this position is the paramount career goal in hospital management.
What is the Role of a Hospital Chief Executive Officer:
As a hospital CEO, you can expect to work in the hospital where you are employed. This does not mean that you will spend a lot of time in your office. This is one of the nursing management jobs where you will frequently be out and about in public, attending meetings with doctors, administrators, visiting satellite sites, publicly speaking, and providing community outreach. You will spend a lot of time in the board room meeting with a variety of people, from nurses and doctors to various types of contractors discussing and making decisions regarding anything hospital-related.
A hospital chief executive officer
wears many hats. In addition to being medically knowledgeable and familiar with the everyday workings of a hospital, they need to have an awareness of technology, the community, and finances. A successful hospital CEO is part public speaker, community servant, and hospital leader with keen people skills as well as vast management expertise.
In this role, you are never off duty. Ultimately, all responsibility and problems can work their way up to the hospital chief executive officer. Typical work hours are 9-5 but hospital CEOs rarely make it home for dinner on time, and evenings and weekends can be interrupted at a moment’s notice with work issues and responsibilities.
What you Need to Do to Become a Hospital Chief Executive Officer:
If you are interested in pursuing a position as a hospital chief executive officer, you need a post-graduate degree in health administration
and hospital management (MHA) or business administration (MBA). However, consideration will be given for other advanced medical degrees such as a master of healthcare management and master of science in nursing. A financial background is needed as well as at least 5 years in hospital management.
Why Should you Become a Hospital Chief Executive Officer:
A hospital chief executive officer position is one of the high-paying nursing management jobs that nurse job seekers may want to consider to advance themselves financially and attain status and prestige as a hospital figurehead. A hospital chief executive officer's salary averages a whopping $208,500 annually. As a leader in the community, you will be in a unique position to make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of those you serve, making a hospital chief executive officer career one of the best leadership roles in nursing.
| Average Hourly Salary||$100.24 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $208,500 |
2. Chief Nurse AnesthetistA chief nurse anesthetist is a high-paying nursing management job that a nurse anesthetist can achieve with a few years of experience in the field.
What is the Role of a Chief Nurse Anesthetist:
A chief nurse anesthetist (CNA) leads a team of nurse anesthetists and students and works in conjunction with the anesthesiologist to organize the staff and work environment safely and efficiently. In addition to scheduling and managing nurse anesthetists, the chief nurse anesthetist is responsible for paperwork associated with patient data, medication, and budgeting. A CNA works alongside other departments to implement quality control, safety measures, and interdisciplinary team collaboration. Some chief nurse anesthetists manage departments of 100 staff or more.
In this role, you can work in a hospital or outpatient surgical center. Most days the work hours are from 7 to 3 with weekends and holidays off. However, as emergencies arise, you may be called to work extra as needed.
What you Need to Do to Become a Chief Nurse Anesthetist:
To be a chief nurse anesthetist, you must first be a nurse anesthetist. This position involves acquiring an advanced degree in nursing from an accredited MSN or DNP program with a CRNA specialization. You then need to be certified as a nurse anesthetist
(CRNA). Once you gain 5-10 years of experience as a CRNA, you will be a viable candidate for this leadership position. In addition, many hospitals require at least 2 years of management experience.
Why Should you Become a Chief Nurse Anesthetist:
A chief nurse anesthetist makes an average salary of approximately $185,000 per year, which is more than a highly paid nurse anesthetist
. With the ability to remain in a specialty that you enjoy, job satisfaction for a chief nurse anesthetist is significant. If you are a nurse anesthetist who wants to utilize your leadership skills and command a salary increase, a chief nurse anesthetist is a fitting move for a nursing management career.
| Average Hourly Salary||$88.92 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $184,963|
3. Chief Nurse PractitionerA chief nurse practitioner is responsible for the leadership of a staff of nurse practitioners.
What is the Role of a Chief Nurse Practitioner:
A chief nurse practitioner is an NP in charge of a staff of nurse practitioners in a particular practice or healthcare institution. You will work directly with the CEO to manage the NP staff to ensure smooth and safe operations, along with ensuring staff and patient satisfaction. As many facilities employ only a sole or small handful of NPs, this position is reserved for agencies and institutions that utilize nurse practitioners in multiple locations or employ a large number of NPs. One such organization that hires chief nurse practitioners is Minute Clinic, which employs a fleet of nurse practitioners across the country.
What you Need to Do to Become a Chief Nurse Practitioner:
To be a chief nurse practitioner, you must first be certified as a nurse practitioner
. After completing your master's (MSN) or doctorate in nursing (DNP), you need to be certified as a nurse practitioner in your specialty area
. A chief nurse practitioner is an experienced clinician of at least 5 years clinical background and who has proven leadership skills. You can work your way up the career ladder to this job by demonstrating your management finesse at your current NP job or applying for a position outside your present employer.
Why Should you Become a Chief Nurse Practitioner:
As one of the more highly-paid nursing leadership jobs, the salary of a Chief Nurse Practitioner is $139,000 annually. Chief nurse practitioners have the ability to remain in the clinical environment if they so choose, therefore creating a satisfying career with the best of both worlds for a practitioner. If you are looking for nursing management jobs while still maintaining contact with patients, the position of Chief Nurse practitioner is in demand. With more autonomy and variety of roles as an NP along with a pay increase, a chief nurse practitioner may be one career that you want to consider.
| Average Hourly Salary||$66.83 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $139,000 |
4. Chief Nursing OfficerOne of the ultimate jobs in nursing management is that of the chief nursing officer, who is the top administrative nurse in a hospital or institution.
What is the Role of a Chief Nursing Officer:
Chief Nursing Officers or CNOs primarily oversee the functioning of the nursing department. They make sure that the team and units have proper equipment and staffing and ensure that patient needs are met satisfactorily. A CNO has an office in the hospital but spends time on the floor with the nursing staff and in meetings with administration, especially nurse administrators. Paperwork, which includes budgeting and supplies, is another responsibility of the CNO. This job is designed to be 9-5 office hours but frequently spills over into evening and weekend hours. When there is a nursing or patient emergency on the weekend that cannot be resolved internally by the staff, the CNO is the first one to be contacted.
What you Need to Do to Become a Chief Nursing Officer:
To become a chief nursing officer
, proven leadership and management skills are essential. Experience in nursing administration is necessary and many CNOs work their way up through a hospital system to attain this career goal. An advanced nursing degree such as an MSN is required with a DNP preferred for this elite nursing position.
Why Should you Become a Chief Nursing Officer:
Chief Nursing Officers make an excellent salary of approximately $136,250.00 annually. Although this compensation may vary from state to state, those with extensive management experience can typically negotiate higher wages for this position. This nursing management career is an excellent choice for those who appreciate the nursing profession and want to lead the staff to reach their highest potential.
| Average Hourly Salary||$65.50 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $136,250 |
5. Chief Clinical OfficerAs a relatively new position in hospitals, the job of a Chief Clinical Officer is similar to that of a human relations director for medical personnel.
What is the Role of a Chief Clinical Officer:
The Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) oversees hiring higher-level medical employees such as physicians and nurse administrators. In addition, many Chief Clinical Officers
supervise the resident program and numerous other programs such as in-service and safety programs. You may also serve as a liaison between patients and staff. Paperwork involves establishing policies and procedures and adherence to these protocols. This job is 9-5 weekdays and is mainly conducted in an office or boardroom.
What you Need to Do to Become a Chief Clinical Officer:
For the position of Chief Clinical Officer, an MSN is required with a DNP preferred. Leadership skills are essential, along with at least 5 years of hospital managerial experience. As a liaison between the medical staff and patients, excellent communication skills along with the ability to smooth over issues with upset staff and patients is a desired trait.
Why Should you Become a Chief Clinical Officer:
The salary of a Chief Clinical Officer can vary from state to state and depending on experience, you can make an average of $118,989 annually. CCOs help to shape a positive reputation for both the hospital and staff. Happy nurses and doctors mean better staffing ratios and less difficulty hiring medical professionals. A reputable hospital draws patients and top physicians and nurses. As one of the more elite nursing management jobs, as a Chief Clinical Officer, you can proudly be an integral part of affecting successful hospital experiences, change, and direction for the staff, hospital, and community.
| Average Hourly Salary||$57.21 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $118,989 |
6. Hospital Chief Operating OfficerA Hospital Chief Operating Officer makes sure that the day-to-day operations of a hospital are carried out according to the hospital's mission and purpose.
What is the Role of a Hospital Chief Operating Officer:
One of the most powerful nursing management jobs available, a Hospital Chief Operating Officer (COO) reports directly to the hospital CEO and is 2nd in charge in the organization. In this role, the COO works directly with all administration to ensure patient and employee satisfaction. Workdays are 9-5 on paper but most hospital COOs work much longer days and weekends, when needed. A hospital chief operating officer can be found mainly in their office reviewing and analyzing reports and hospital and patient data and in the boardroom meeting with other hospital administrators.
What you Need to Do to Become a Hospital Chief Operating Officer:
Nurses who wish to apply for a job as a hospital chief operating officer need to hold a BSN, in addition to a Masters in Business Administration or Masters in Healthcare Administration
or equivalent. Due to the complexity of this position, 10 years of healthcare managerial experience is required. A proven record of problem-solving, strong interpersonal skills, and financial expertise are necessary to be a successful COO.
Why Should you Become a Hospital Chief Operating Officer:
The salary of a hospital chief operating officer is approximately $118,000 per year, which is higher than average for most nursing management jobs. A career as a Hospital Chief Operating Office is rewarding for those who value a prominent position to make a difference for the medical community and the people it serves. Nurses who enjoy financial duties and leading others to excellence will find a position as Hospital COO satisfying and one of the best nursing leadership jobs available.
| Average Hourly Salary||$56.66 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $117,863 |
7. Dean of NursingThe dean of nursing is responsible for the leadership of the nursing faculty in an educational institution.
What is the Role of a Dean of Nursing:
The role of a dean of nursing is to oversee and direct the nursing program of a college or university. Working onsite, the dean of nursing works directly with the nursing faculty to ensure that policies and curriculum are adhered to and that a quality program is instituted. In addition, the dean of nursing
is available for nursing student concerns. The dean of nursing spends a considerable amount of time in her office working on curriculum, budgets, accreditation standards, and collaboration with other departments within the university. Designed as a 9-5 job, a dean of nursing takes work home at night as the department may necessitate extra hours for emergencies and deadlines.
What you Need to Do to Become a Dean of Nursing:
As a dean of nursing, you will be required to hold a DNP degree. In addition, a proven record of excellence in teaching along with a minimum of 5 years of experience in a leadership role in an educational setting. It is required that you retain your state nursing license. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are key traits for this role.
Why Should you Become a Dean of Nursing:
The salary of a dean of nursing averages $116,596 annually. Educational nursing leadership jobs are gratifying for those who wish to promote teaching excellence and student success. There is never a better career to significantly impact nursing education in a nursing leadership position than as a dean of nursing.
| Average Hourly Salary||$56.06 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $116,596 |
8. Patient Care DirectorA patient care director oversees all programs and staff related to patient services.
What is the Role of a Patient Care Director:
Primarily working in hospitals, patient care directors are also employed in some larger medical organizations such as home health agencies. The role of a patient care director
is that of executive-level supervision and leading the team to excellence. A patient care director ensures that all programs and patient interactions center on the well-being of patients. Working throughout the hospital to address patient concerns, train staff and oversee daily functioning, the patient care coordinator is essential to make sure that the hospital is in compliance with regulations and operations run smoothly.
What you Need to Do to Become a Patient Care Director:
A patient care director must possess a valid RN license in addition to an advanced nursing degree such as an MSN or DNP. A nurse with a BSN degree only may be considered for the position if working up the career ladder within a smaller facility. Also, a business or management background is advantageous. Strong communication, interpersonal and problem-solving abilities are desired for this position. In addition, experience as a nurse at an inpatient facility is necessary.
Why Should you Become a Patient Care Director:
This typically 9-5 job can be slightly less stressful than some of the top jobs in nursing management at a hospital. A patient care director's salary, on average, is $111,717 annually. Having the ability to develop and lead nurses to provide top-notch services for patient care is rewarding and is one of the nursing management jobs that can prove to be a very satisfying career.
| Average Hourly Salary||$53.71 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $111,717 |
9. Chief Nursing Informatics OfficerA chief nursing informatics office is a newer role in a hospital system that combines clinical and technology services to provide a liaison between healthcare's medical and technological aspects.
What is the Role of a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer:
The role of a chief nursing informatics officer
(CNIO) is to provide informatics expertise to the hospital care model. By bridging the gap between clinicians and technology, the chief nursing informatics officer provides state-of-the-art technical and clinical expertise in a fast-changing medical environment. As one of the newer promising nurse management jobs, the chief nursing informatics officer can be found in a hospital office working on the computer analyzing clinical and technical data and translating the data in understandable reports for higher administrative officers in the healthcare system. Once in the boardroom with the nursing and hospital leaders, the CNIO's job is to educate them on the informatic concepts that will lead the hospital to excellence.
What you Need to Do to Become a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer:
The qualifications for a chief nursing informatics officer vary widely. All applicants need to hold an active RN license and have a master's in nursing informatics. Additional educational qualifications can be a master’s degree in information systems, MBA or DNP, or Ph.D. in Nursing/Informatics. In addition, a certification in nursing informatics is recommended. Five years of experience in clinical nursing is necessary, along with a previous administrative background. A candidate for a chief nursing informatics officer also must have a 3-5 years history working in informatics.
Why Should you Become a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer:
A chief nursing informatics officer's salary is $109,849 annually, with pay ranges varying from state to state. For nurses who relish technology and analyzing data, a chief nursing informatics officer is one of the lower stress leadership positions in nursing. In addition, a chief nursing informatics officer is one of the few nursing management jobs where you actually work daylight office hours with no weekends or holidays mandated.
| Average Hourly Salary||$52.81 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $109,849 |
10. Emergency Services DirectorThe emergency services director is responsible for planning and managing emergency protocols and procedures for the staff and patients in a hospital institution pertaining to emergencies and natural disasters.
What is the Role of an Emergency Services Director:
An emergency services director, sometimes called an emergency management director, evaluates the hospital safety response plans, revises or implements new safety plans according to public safety guidelines and carries out drills and training programs to ensure that during an actual emergency the response is well-coordinated and effective. In addition, the emergency services director works with the public safety office and government agencies while implementing emergency plans. In this position, you will report to the CEO and work closely with top administrative hospital officials.
This behind-the-scenes job is mainly an office position with a typical 9-5 workweek. There are exceptions, of course, during emergencies and for weekend safety training.
What you Need to Do to Become an Emergency Services Director:
To be a viable candidate as an emergency services director, any type of bachelor’s degree is acceptable. More important is at least 5 years of experience in management. Previous work experience in emergency service, law enforcement, the military, or emergency response
is essential. An organized mind and critical thinking skills are crucial along with the ability to stay calm in stressful situations.
Why Should you Become an Emergency Services Director:
An emergency services director makes a salary of $107,553 annually. This low-key office position is normally low stress with the exception of periods of natural disaster or emergency. For nurses who enjoy organizational and planning duties away from the bedside in an office atmosphere, an emergency services director is one of the top nursing management jobs you may want.
| Average Hourly Salary||$51.71|
| Average Annual Salary|| $107,553 |
11. Clinical Nurse LeaderA clinical nurse leader is an experienced, knowledgeable nurse who serves as a comprehensive resource for hospital nurses and the healthcare team.
What is the Role of a Clinical Nurse Leader:
As one of the newer and more promising nursing leadership jobs, this specialty was developed for highly skilled nurses with an expansive knowledge of nursing and the hospital system. The main focus of this position is to improve the quality of patient care by improving patient outcomes. Clinical nurse leaders (CNL) work alongside nurses, doctors, administrators, and the community. In this expansive role, the CNL may still keep her hand in patient care and education. Clinical nurse leaders can work in a variety of settings besides a hospital, such as clinics, educational institutions, research facilities, and consulting firms. CNLs work daylight office hours mainly but there are instances where a clinical nurse leader may be required to attend meetings and training on off-hours.
What you Need to Do to Become a Clinical Nurse Leader:
A clinical nurse leader must be a registered nurse with a valid license and have graduated from an accredited MSN program. In order to be eligible for the clinical nurse leader certification
, it is required that you hold an MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership. In addition, clinical nurse leaders must have 5 years of nursing experience and a background in management or leadership roles.
Why Should you Become a Clinical Nurse Leader:
A clinical nurse leader’s salary is $104,107 annually, with larger institutions and those in metro areas commanding higher than average wages. A clinical nurse leader is a nursing leadership position that allows you to utilize your expertise in nursing, exercise your leadership abilities, and still allows you to stay in direct patient care. This new career choice is an excellent opportunity for highly experienced nurses to be rewarded for their dedication to the nursing profession.
| Average Hourly Salary||$50.05|
| Average Annual Salary|| $104,107|
12. Patient Experience DirectorA patient experience director is responsible for developing system-wide service standards to ensure that patient and visitor experiences are satisfactory.
What is the Role of a Patient Experience Director:
Although the patient experience director has an office in a hospital, this busy nurse can be found all over the hospital dealing with patient concerns and complaints regarding care, billing, and the overall patient and family experience pertaining to the hospital. The patient experience director
plans and implements procedures and protocols geared towards quality patient satisfaction to meet the emotional and physical needs of those admitted to the hospital. As a patient experience director, you will work closely with all departments and upper management to monitor and educate staff to ensure that a patient-centered culture is carried out with every interaction with patients and their families.
What you Need to Do to Become a Patient Experience Director:
First and foremost, a patient experience director needs to possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to negotiate and resolve issues effectively with patients and staff. A bachelor’s degree in nursing or health management is required, with a master's degree in a related field such as an MSN preferred. In addition, a minimum of 5 years of clinical experience with a management background is needed.
Why Should you Become a Patient Experience Director:
As one of the more visible nursing leadership roles, becoming a patient experience director can be very satisfying for those who enjoy public relations. A patient experience director can expect a salary of $103,500 annually. This 9-5 position can be very rewarding, as a patient experience director has tremendous power to create an atmosphere that will make a patient's hospital stay less traumatic and more comfortable. In addition, an effective patient experience director can help build a positive rapport within the community and elevate the medical facility's reputation.
| Average Hourly Salary||$49.76 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $103,500 |
13. Clinical Operations DirectorA clinical operations director is responsible for ensuring patient treatment is done in compliance with internal policies and protocol.
What is the Role of a Clinical Operations Director:
A clinical operations director (COD) is a senior management position reporting directly to the hospital CEO. In addition, the COD may oversee the management of medical staff and services in general. This position is a very diverse job that is a mix of budgeting and utilization review of the team, the facility, and its programs. The overall goal for a clinical operations director is to ensure that the hospital operates efficiently and safely while keeping patient-centered care and happiness a top priority. Listed as a 9-5 job, this hospital-based position often requires overtime to get the job done according to everyone’s satisfaction. A clinical operations director can be found all over the hospital, in the board room or office, working to save the hospital money while keeping it running effectively.
What you Need to Do to Become a Clinical Operations Director:
To be a successful candidate for a position as a clinical operation director, you must hold a valid RN license along with a BSN degree. An MSN is preferred or a master's in other health-related studies such as Master of Health Administration (MHA), MBA in Healthcare, or Master of Public Health (MPH)
. Educational requirements vary from hospital to hospital but prior nursing management experience of 5-10 years is necessary. Qualities such as exceptional interpersonal and communication skills are desired for the position of clinical operations director as negotiation and positive relationships with a diverse team are required.
Why Should you Become a Clinical Operations Director:
The average salary for a clinical operations director is $103,152. This figure can be quite different from state to state, metro vs rural hospital, and by prior experience. The high earning potential for an experienced COD can make this position one of the more high-paying nursing management jobs offered. As an elite administrator in a hospital organization, a clinical operations director can find job satisfaction knowing that the staff and hospital are being managed efficiently and providing quality care for the community that they serve.
| Average Hourly Salary||$49.59 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $103,152 |
14. Nursing Program DirectorA nursing program director is responsible for implementing and directing a university nursing program according to accreditation standards.
What is the Role of a Nursing Program Director:
Working in a university, community college, or degree program, the nursing program director (NPD) is the head of the nursing department for the institution. In addition to fulfilling duties associated with proper accreditation, the nursing program director is responsible for curriculum, management of nursing faculty, and overall nursing student satisfaction. Primarily an office job, the nursing program director is expected to work 9-5 hours and be available for urgent departmental needs when necessary.
What you Need to Do to Become a Nursing Program Director:
Since this is one of the leadership roles in nursing where a candidate's education is a priority, an MSN is necessary but a Ph.D. in nursing
or DNP is preferred for a nursing program director. In addition to holding a valid RN license, the nursing program director needs to have 5 years of clinical experience as a nurse and 2 years of teaching experience as a nursing faculty member. Effective communication and leadership skills are desired and experience in distance education is a plus.
Why Should you Become a Nursing Program Director:
A nursing program director’s salary is $92,684. Although not one of the top salaried jobs in nursing management, there are many pros about the position. Working in nursing education can be lower stress
than many hospital-based nursing leadership jobs. Without life and death decisions and patient satisfaction to worry about, a nursing program director may have the ability to work remotely and can regulate her days and workload to accommodate work-life balance better than many other nursing management jobs.
| Average Hourly Salary||$44.56 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $92,684 |
15. Hospital AdministratorA hospital administrator primarily manages the overall day-to-day functioning of a hospital, including staffing and department budgets.
What is the Role of a Hospital Administrator:
A hospital administrator's role is to ensure that the business side of medicine operates efficiently while still providing excellent patient-centered care. Duties can include budgeting, hiring, and managing staff in different departments while working collaboratively with other departments and leaders in the organization. Primarily in the office or on the hospital floors from 9-5, work hours may vary within each hospital according to roles assigned by the hospital CEO.
What you Need to Do to Become a Hospital Administrator:
To become a hospital administrator, you must hold a valid RN license and have a BSN
. An MSN is desired by many hospital organizations. A background in finance or business is desirable, along with a minimum of 5 years of nursing experience. Nurses have often worked their way up the ladder within a facility to become a hospital administrator.
Why Should you Become a Hospital Administrator:
A hospital administrator's salary averages $92,526 annually. This wage can vary greatly from hospital to hospital and according to the specific role of the hospital administrator. A hospital administrator in one of the nursing management jobs that nurses with excellent leadership skills and a vision towards creating a center for excellence will enjoy. For many nurses, their goal to be a hospital administrator will fulfill their desire to showcase their years of experience and knowledge accumulated during their career in nursing.
| Average Hourly Salary||$44.48 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $92,526 |
16. Director of NursingA director of nursing oversees all nursing staff and is responsible for the care they deliver to patients in a medical facility.
What is the Role of a Director of Nursing:
This traditional nursing management position is a familiar leader to all hospital nurses. A director of nursing (DON) is involved in all aspects of nursing such as hiring, budgeting, problem-solving for nurses and their patients, instituting protocol and procedures pertaining to the nursing staff, and orientation and training for the nursing staff. In addition, the DON collaborates with other hospital administrative staff and reports directly to higher management. This position is designed to be a 9-5 office job but a DON can be found working after hours and on the floor at times. Directors of nursing are employed in hospitals, extended care facilities, and agencies such as home health and surgical centers.
What you Need to Do to Become a Director of Nursing:
A director of nursing needs to hold a valid RN license and have a minimum of a BSN in nursing. An MSN in nursing administration
is desired. However, other master's degrees in similar studies will be considered. More importantly, a DON is required to have considerable nursing and nursing management experience. This position is one of the top leadership roles in nursing, so a diverse and plentiful background in nursing is required. Specific requirements for the job may vary according to each institution. Many nurses work their way up the career ladder
in a specific organization to eventually attain a DON position.
Why Should you Become a Director of Nursing:
As the head of the nursing department, a director of nursing is a high-paying nursing management job. The average annual salary of a director of nursing is $92,348. This salary jumps much higher for hospital DONs vs those in smaller agencies and institutions. With the ability to lead a team of nurses to excellence and provide an environment where nurses enjoy their jobs and patients are well cared for, a director of nursing can be a very satisfying nursing administration career choice.
| Average Hourly Salary||$44.40 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $92,348 |
17. Patient Experience ManagerA patient experience manager develops and implements programs and strategies to ensure a positive patient experience in a healthcare system.
What is the Role of a Patient Experience Manager:
As one of the newer nursing management jobs, a patient experience manager develops and trains staff in initiatives aimed at improving the patient experience at a particular medical facility or organization. The patient experience manager works with all team members in a medical organization from janitors to the CEO to ensure that all employees are familiar with and adhere to exceptional patient-centered care and satisfying outcomes. This job is designed as a 9-5 position with most time spent in the office or training areas. However, a patient experience manager can be found in all areas of the hospital, overseeing the climate of the staff and patient welfare.
What you Need to Do to Become a Patient Experience Manager:
A patient experience manager needs to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing with an MSN desired. A minimum of 5 years of clinical experience and 2 years of management background is necessary. In addition, excellent interpersonal skills and proven leadership qualities are essential for this role. Once hired, many healthcare organizations require that a patient experience manager obtain a certificate as a Certified Patient Experience Professional
within one year of employment.
Why Should you Become a Patient Experience Manager:
A patient experience manager’s salary on average is $90,286 per year. This position may be one of the best nursing management jobs to step away from the bedside and lead a variety of staff other than just nurses. With lower stress than many jobs in nursing management, a patient experience manager can work autonomously throughout the hospital and still be able to be home on weekends and in the evenings.
| Average Hourly Salary||$43.41 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $90,286 |
18. Nurse AdministratorA nurse administrator is a position that can vary from institution to institution but is an essential top leader of nursing staff in each instance.
What is the Role of a Nurse Administrator:
As one of the top nursing management jobs, depending on where you work, a nurse administrator can also be hired as a director of nursing, nurse manager, or chief nursing officer. In smaller institutions or private medical industries, a nurse administrator is a nurse ultimately in charge of the hiring and direction of the nursing staff. A nurse administrator for the federal government
provides leadership and oversight for the public health programs and government health institutions. Mainly an office job with 9-5 hours, the position of nurse administrator can require additional work hours as deemed necessary to complete essential work for the job.
What you Need to Do to Become a Nurse Administrator:
To become a nurse administrator, a valid RN license is required along with a BSN. Depending on the job duties and institutional requirements for this position, an MSN may be needed. As with most nursing management jobs, nursing experience is essential. At least 5 years of clinical experience is needed to be a nurse administrator
along with excellent communication and organizational skills. Depending on the particular job, nursing leadership and prior management experience may be necessary.
Why Should you Become a Nurse Administrator:
A nurse administrator's salary is $89,015 annually on average. This wage can vary widely depending on job specifics, location, size, and type of the institution/organization. Nursing home administrators and those working in smaller health agencies tend to make a lesser wage compared to nurse administrators in large metro hospitals. Regardless of compensation, nurse administrators are in high demand and jobs are plentiful for those pursuing a career as a nurse administrator. Working office hours and leaving direct patient care are great reasons to become a nurse administrator for many.
| Average Hourly Salary||$42.80|
| Average Annual Salary|| $89,015|
19. Nurse ManagerA nurse manager is in charge of the everyday supervision and direction of nursing staff on a particular unit or agency.
What is the Role of a Nurse Manager:
A nurse manager is called a nursing supervisor in some instances. In this role, the nurse manager is in charge of the budget for the unit, training and mentoring staff, and making sure that the day-to-day operations run smoothly on the floor. A nurse manager may be involved in hiring nurses for the unit and is ultimately responsible for patient care and employee satisfaction for her area. As one of the first career steps in nursing management jobs, a nurse manager can work in a clinic, hospital, long-term care facility, or private health agency. Mainly designed as a first shift or 9-5 position, a nurse manager stays on the unit with her staff. Duties include attending meetings, working on schedules and budgets while still actively involved with patient care.
What you Need to Do to Become a Nurse Manager:
A nurse manager needs to hold an active RN license and, in most instances, a BSN degree. Many nurse managers are promoted from within an organization due to leadership qualities demonstrated as an RN, such as exceptional interpersonal skills, innovative thinking, excellent nursing skills with high patient satisfaction. In addition at least 5 years of clinical experience is necessary. Some nurses strive to attain a position as a nurse manager by getting their MSN in Nursing Management
, which can be advantageous for landing jobs in nursing management.
Why Should you Become a Nurse Manager:
Nurse managers make an average salary of $87,312 annually. As one of the more promising nursing management jobs, a career as a nurse manager is an excellent choice for nurses who enjoy working with patients in their specialty area while leading other nurses to excellence. With the ability to utilize all of your nursing experience, work regular office hours, and work in one of the lower stress jobs in nursing management, a nurse manager is always in demand. A position as a nurse manager can be a rewarding career for an RN or serve as a stepping-stone to the next level of management.
| Average Hourly Salary||$41.98 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $87,312|
20. Hospice AdministratorA hospice administrator is in charge of the overall care of patients enrolled in hospice and the staff that cares for them.
What is the Role of a Hospice Administrator:
A hospice administrator, sometimes referred to as a hospice director, can work in a hospice agency or facility, in patients' own homes, or at a nursing home, or hospice house. A hospice administrator acts as the liaison between the staff and the families and hospice patients to ensure that compassionate and comfortable care is given for the patient's final days. Duties include developing work schedules, budgeting, staffing, training of staff and families, along with overseeing the everyday operations and care of patients. Designed as a 9-5 position, it is not unusual for a hospice administrator to receive calls at any hour to discuss patient situations.
What you Need to Do to Become a Hospice Administrator:
A hospice administrator is required to hold a valid RN license along with a BSN degree with an MSN preferred. A master's in health administration or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management
is desirable for the position of hospice administrator. Five years of experience in hospice nursing is essential, along with excellent organizational and interpersonal skills. Most of all, a compassionate and caring personality is necessary for this role.
Why Should you Become a Hospice Administrator:
A hospice administrator's salary averages $86,754 annually, with the ability to attain much higher wages depending on the facility, location, and prior experience. For those compassionate nurses who enjoy leadership while making a difference at the most critical point in a patient’s life, a hospice administrator can be one of the best nursing management jobs offered.
| Average Hourly Salary||$41.71 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $86,754|
21. Associate Dean of NursingAn associate dean of nursing assists the dean of nursing with administrative responsibilities for a university nursing program.
What is the Role of an Associate Dean of Nursing:
Reporting directly to the dean of nursing, an associate dean assists with curriculum development, budgeting, faculty hiring and training, along with the direction of students and assisting with student concerns. An associate dean of nursing works regular 9-5 office hours with some occasions necessary in the evenings and weekends.
What you Need to Do to Become an Associate Dean of Nursing:
An associate dean of nursing needs to hold an active RN license along with an MSN or DNP degree, with 5 years of nursing experience in a clinical and/or academic setting required. Strong written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills are necessary. Supervisory experience may also be required in some instances.
Why Should you Become an Associate Dean of Nursing:
An associate dean of nursing makes a salary of $85,896 on average annually. As 2nd in charge of the nursing program, job stress is less than that of the dean of nursing. An associate dean of nursing is one of the best nursing leadership jobs for nurses who strive to be in an academic administrative position but do not desire the pressure of being the dean of nursing. On the other hand, if your career objective is to be a dean of nursing, employment as an associate dean of nursing is a natural means to achieve your goal. Regardless, working in a satisfying office career that helps mold young minds into outstanding future nurses, an associate dean of nursing is undoubtedly one of the best nursing leadership jobs for those who desire to work in nursing education.
| Average Hourly Salary||$41.30 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $85,896|
22. Clinical Nurse ManagerA clinical nurse manager is responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of a particular hospital unit or agency/clinic.
What is the Role of a Clinical Nurse Manager:
As one of the lower-level jobs in nursing management, a clinical nurse manager (CNM) is sometimes referred to as a nursing supervisor. A CNM usually works the day shift in a hospital on a particular floor, clinic, or agency such as hospice or a nursing home. In this role, the clinical nurse manager still has a hand in patient care but primarily is responsible for supervising the nursing staff, creating schedules, ordering supplies, and organizing the unit and team to ensure that patients are cared for safely and efficiently.
What you Need to Do to Become a Clinical Nurse Manager:
A clinical nurse manager needs to have an active RN license and hold a BSN degree. In addition, to be a successful clinical nurse manager
candidate, you will need 3-5 years of clinical experience in the specialty area or unit/agency where you are applying. Typically, RNs are promoted from within for this position based on their clinical skills and nursing knowledge along with leadership traits such as excellent judgment, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Why Should you Become a Clinical Nurse Manager:
As one of the more promising nursing management jobs for nurses looking to enter into a leadership role, a clinical nurse manager will make more than a staff nurse. The average annual salary of a clinical nurse manager is $84,292. This wage can be higher based on prior experience, the type of facility, and the location of the institution. A CNM can be a very appealing choice for nurses who want to try their hand in one of the lower stress nursing leadership jobs, achieve a pay raise and work the first shift, while still being involved in patient care. In addition, a position as a clinical nurse manager is an excellent starting point in a career in nursing management roles and can lead to a higher level and well-paying administrative opportunities in the future.
| Average Hourly Salary||$40.53 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $84,292 |
23. Long-Term Care AdministratorA long-term care administrator manages the staff and oversees care for the entire population of patients in the long-term care facility.
What is the Role of a Long-Term Care Administrator:
A long-term care administrator can go by many titles such as nursing home director, executive director, or assisted living administrator. The role of a long-term care administrator is to make sure that the staff and daily operations of the long-term care facility runs safely and smoothly and that the patients are well-cared for and happy. This diverse role involves hiring and training staff, budgeting, resolving issues, and ensuring that the facility complies with state and federal regulations and staff work in compliance with all mandated procedures and protocols. A long-term care administrator can be found mainly in her office but also on the floor working office hours but is always available for emergencies and questions.
What you Need to Do to Become a Long-Term Care Administrator:
An RN wishing to become a long-term care administrator needs to hold a valid RN license in addition to a BSN degree. Furthermore, some facilities require an MSN in Health Administration or a related field. A background in gerontology, med-surg, or nursing home experience is necessary, along with previous history in an administrative role. Financial expertise is helpful, in addition to exceptional organizational and interpersonal skills.
Why Should you Become a Long-Term Care Administrator:
A long-term care administrator’s salary is $82,331 on average annually. This wage makes a long-term care administrator position one of the high-paying nursing management jobs in this specialty area. Long-term care administrators are in demand due to the aging baby boomer population
needing care now and even more so in the next few years as this population increases. As one of the top nursing leadership jobs for nurses who specialize in gerontology, a long-term care administrator can make a significant difference in the lives of the aging population that they serve.
| Average Hourly Salary||$39.58 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $82,331 |
24. Assistant Director of NursingAn assistant director of nursing oversees the nursing staff and supports the director of nursing to ensure quality patient care.
What is the Role of an Assistant Director of Nursing:
As an associate director of nursing (ADON), you will be working in conjunction with the director of nursing. Your duties may depend on what responsibilities the DON assigns you but can consist of hiring and training nursing staff, providing in-servicing, conducting performance reviews, and developing policy and procedures. In the absence of the DON, you are expected to step in at any time. Designed as an office job with 9-5 or 1st shift hours, an ADON can be found working at any hour or on weekends on occasion as the need arises. An assistant director of nursing can work in a hospital, nursing home, clinic, or agency.
What you Need to Do to Become an Assistant Director of Nursing:
An assistant director of nursing needs to hold a current RN license and have a minimum of a BSN degree. Additionally, some management experience is desired. Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven track record of leadership as a nurse are fitting qualities for this position. At a minimum, five years of clinical experience is needed.
Why Should you Become an Assistant Director of Nursing:
As one of the leadership roles in nursing that can lead directly to a higher management position, an assistant director of nursing makes a salary of $76,614 on average annually. This wage can be much higher in large facilities or metro areas. Being 2nd in charge has its advantages. As one of the top nursing management roles, you will be able to mentor and lead staff to excellence while still not feeling the entire weight of the department, as does a DON. As stated before, if you aspire to be a director of nursing, a position as ADON is a natural means to achieve your career goal.
| Average Hourly Salary||$36.83|
| Average Annual Salary|| $76,614 |
25. Nurse EducatorA nurse educator is a nurse who is responsible for educating nurses in a particular medical facility.
What is the Role of a Nurse Educator:
A nurse educator is one of the nursing leadership roles where there is no direct supervision involved. In this position, a nurse educator
is responsible for orienting new nurses and providing continuing education for the nursing staff. In addition, a nurse educator can serve as a resource for patients as well as staff for a variety of medical issues/situations. A nurse educator position is a 9-5 or 1st shift office job where much time is spent in the staff development room. You can be employed as a nurse educator in hospitals, extended care facilities, and healthcare agencies.
What you Need to Do to Become a Nurse Educator:
A nurse educator needs to hold a valid RN license and have a minimum of a BSN degree. An MSN with an emphasis on nursing education is preferred, along with a background in teaching. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are necessary and many nurse educators are hired from within a hospital system for this position. A minimum of 3 years of clinical experience is required.
Why Should you Become a Nurse Educator:
A nurse educator makes an average yearly salary of $75,223. If promoted from within, the wage can be much higher based on the number of years employed and experience. One of the lower stress administrative jobs in a hospital, a nurse educator has the ability to positively contribute to the nursing team while still working daylight hours. In some instances, this position is now offered as a remote job making a nurse educator career even more appealing.
| Average Hourly Salary||$36.16 |
| Average Annual Salary|| $75,223 |
My Final Thoughts
As an RN who was promoted to a nursing supervisor and then director of nursing, I can tell you that being recognized for my substantial nursing background and expertise by career advancement is a rewarding professional experience. By reading this piece, 25 best nursing leadership and management jobs every nurse should aim for in 2021, you should have found the answer to the question of what are the best nursing leadership and management jobs? Hopefully, this article will give you the motivation and knowledge to explore your next professional step as a nurse. With so many exciting nursing leadership jobs to choose from, now is the time to go for that advancement in your nursing career that you deserve!
TOP QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
1. What Qualities are Essential to Nursing Leadership and Management?
First and foremost, a great nursing leader needs to have passion for the profession and empathy for the patients. Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills are essential to communicate effectively with staff and keep the institution running efficiently. To be a successful nurse leader
, you need to have a clinical background in order to lead and understand every aspect of the nursing role and patient needs. For all jobs in nursing management, conflict resolution skills are crucial as day-to-day problems arise.
2. What is the Difference Between Nursing Leadership and Nursing Management?
Nursing leadership and nursing management jobs are both considered leadership positions. However, some nursing leadership roles are not positions in management. The difference is whether a nursing leader supervises and manages staff as part of their job duties. An example is an assistant director of nursing who directly supervises the healthcare team and is considered a manager vs. a nurse educator who works in nursing administration but does not oversee any staff and would not be deemed a manager but is a leader.
3. What States Pay the Highest Salaries for Nursing Leadership and Management Jobs?
California takes the lead as the highest paying state for nursing leadership and management positions. Nurses working in more heavily populated states such as New Jersey, Washington, and New York also enjoy a higher wage than other states. If you are seeking high-paying nursing leadership jobs, Hawaii, with its inflated cost of living, also ranks in the top 10 states for the highest salary for a nurse in the US.
| Rank|| State |
| 1|| California|
| 2|| New Jersey|
| 3|| Washington|
| 4|| New York|
| 5|| Massachusetts|
| 6|| Nevada|
| 7|| Minnesota|
| 8|| Wyoming|
| 9|| Hawaii|
| 10|| Oregon|
4. What Metros Pay the Highest Salaries for Nursing Leadership and Management Jobs?
Not surprisingly, 9 cities in California rank in the top 10 for metros paying the highest salaries for nursing leadership and management jobs. New Bedford, MA is the lone non-California Metro in the top 10 list, ranking #7. It goes to say, according to this data, that California is the state to look at for highly-paid nursing management jobs.
| Rank|| Metro|
| 1|| Vallejo-Fairfield, CA|
| 2|| San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA|
| 3|| Salinas, CA|
| 4|| San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA|
| 5|| Napa, CA|
| 6|| Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA|
| 7|| New Bedford, MA|
| 8|| Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA|
| 9|| Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA|
| 10|| Yuba City, CA|
5. What Industries Employ the Highest Number of Professionals in Nursing Leadership and Management?
As expected, inpatient hospitals employ the greatest number of nurses in leadership and nursing management jobs, with general med/surg hospitals ranking #1. Outpatient care centers rank second for hiring the most professionals for jobs in nursing management. Colleges and universities are the third best place to find employment in a nursing leadership position.
| Rank|| Industry |
| 1|| General Medical and Surgical Hospitals|
| 2|| Outpatient Care Centers|
| 3|| Colleges and Universities|
6. What States Have the Highest Number of Job Openings in Nursing Leadership and Management?
For those looking for active openings in nursing management jobs, California ranks the highest in the number of job openings in this area. New York, Texas, and Florida come in closely behind California for job openings for nurses in administration. In addition, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts also rank in the top ten for open opportunities in this category.
| Rank|| State|
| 1|| California|
| 2|| New York|
| 3|| Texas|
| 4|| Florida|
| 5|| Ohio|
| 6|| Tennessee|
| 7|| Pennsylvania|
| 8|| Georgia|
| 9|| Illinois|
| 10|| Massachusetts|
7. What Metros Have the Highest Number of Job Openings in Nursing Leadership and Management?
If you are looking for a job in nursing leadership and management, New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA are metros that have the highest number of jobs openings in this area. If you are interested in finding a similar type position in the New England states, you are in luck as Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH rank 2nd for having the highest number of available administrative positions for nurses. As you can see from the chart below, metros with the highest number of job openings in nursing leadership and management positions can be found across the USA in the south, central states, and the east and west coasts.
| Rank|| Metro|
| 1|| New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA|
| 2|| Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH|
| 3|| Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI|
| 4|| Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA|
| 5|| Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA|
| 6|| Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX|
| 7|| Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD|
| 8|| Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL|
| 9|| Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX|
| 10|| Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ|
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Donna Reese is a freelance nurse health content writer with 37 years nursing experience. She has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in her local community clinic and as an RN in home health, rehabilitation, hospital, and school nursing.