Nursing Executive

Job Duties

Nursing executives lead nursing staff in allocating resources, managing care, and developing policies. They strive to improve the quality of healthcare that patients receive, but their other focus is on positive staff development. They seek to create partnerships with consumers and encourage collaboration between health professionals. As senior leaders in the healthcare industry, they attempt to enhance mentoring, diversity, communication, and collaboration. They design the delivery of patient care, foster relationships between staff members, encourage stewardship, and advance the field of nursing. They primarily supervise the work of nurses in hospitals, planning work schedules and assigning responsibilities. They coordinate training and ensure that appropriate records are kept.

Job Skills

Nursing executives need to have well-developed communication and organizational skills, and the ability to observe accurately and make decisions accordingly. Their interpersonal skills should be of the highest caliber. They must be willing to supervise others. Nursing executives should be emotionally stable and have a sympathetic disposition. They need to have strong leadership skills, as well as critical thinking and decision-making skills.


Nursing executives can earn annual salaries between about $75,000 and $135,000.

Training and Education

Nursing executives can become certified by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). They must first become registered nurses (RNs) by earning their nursing license. In order to obtain a nursing license, which is required by all 50 States and the District of Columbia, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination. The first educational step in becoming a nursing executive is obtaining a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN). BSN programs are offered through colleges and universities and take 4 years to complete. This is the absolute minimum requirement for nursing executive positions. However, most nursing executives have a master’s or doctorate-level degree in a range of disciplines. A great deal of experience working as a registered nurse is usually required to be considered for nursing executive positions. Employers also look for candidates with exceptional leadership and communication skills. Click here to see a list of Nursing Schools, and/or to contact their admissions departments for more information.


In 2002, registered nurses, including nursing executives, held approximately 2.3 million jobs, making the occupation the largest in the healthcare field.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of nursing executives is expected to increase faster than the average. More new RN jobs are expected to be created than any other occupation, mostly because of the need to replace aging registered nurses as they leave the profession. Factors such as the growing elderly population, general growth of healthcare, rising median age of registered nurses, increased emphasis on preventative treatment, and technological advances will keep registered nurses, including the nursing executives that supervise them, in high demand.