Professionals in the field include both instructors primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of both teaching and research. Postsecondary nursing teachers are almost always nurses themselves, and typically hold graduate degrees and/or advanced nursing certifications.
Most postsecondary teachers use computer technology extensively – including the Internet, e-mail, and software programs – and nursing instructors are no exception. They may use computers in the classroom as teaching aids and may post course content, class notes, class schedules, and other information on the Internet. Postsecondary nursing teachers sometimes serve on academic or administrative committees that deal with academic issues, budgets, curricula, departmental matters, hiring, purchases of equipment and the policies of their institution.
- Postsecondary nursing teachers often find their work environment intellectually stimulating and rewarding because they are surrounded by others who enjoy the subject.
- Qualifications typically range from a master’s degree to a PhD, depending on the type of educational institution the teacher works in.
- Competition can be intense for tenure-track positions, but the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics expects more opportunities for part-time or non-tenure-track positions.
- As in most education-intensive fields, PhD recipients should experience the best job prospects.
Professionals in this field almost always work in a classroom, lab, or hospital environment, where lighting is good and temperatures are comfortable. Postsecondary nursing teachers who are involved in helping students with the practical part of their coursework may spend a lot of time in various types of patient-care facilities.
Roughly 29% of postsecondary teachers worked part time in 2008. Some part-time postsecondary teachers, known as adjunct faculty, have primary jobs outside of academia and teach on the side. Others have several part-time teaching positions at different institutions. Most graduate teaching assistants work part time while pursuing their graduate studies.
Education, Training and Licensing
Colleges and universities that grant bachelor’s (and more advanced) degrees in nursing usually require candidates for full-time, tenure-track jobs to hold a doctorate. Some might hire master’s degree holders or doctoral candidates for part-time and temporary positions.
Earning a doctorate takes about six years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s level. This includes time spent completing a master’s degree and a dissertation. Nursing doctoral candidates must specialize in a particular aspect of their discipline – psychiatric nursing or pediatric nursing, for example– and take courses covering the entire field as well.
Doctoral programs typically include 20 or more increasingly specialized courses and comprehensive examinations in all major areas of the field. Candidates also must complete a dissertation – a work of original research in their specialization. The dissertation proposes an original hypothesis or creates a model for testing. Dissertations are generally done under the guidance of one or more faculty advisors, and can take up to two years to complete.
Community and junior colleges often hire master’s degree holders to fill full-time nursing instructor positions. However, certain popular fields frequently produce more applicants than available jobs, allowing institutions to be more selective in their hiring practices. In such fields, master’s degree holders may be passed over in favor of PhD candidates and PhDs. Today, most two-year institutions prefer job applicants to have some teaching experience and/or experience with distance learning. Those holding dual master’s degrees can also see preferential treatment, especially at smaller institutions, because they are qualified to teach a wider variety of courses.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that just over 49,100 people were employed as postsecondary nursing teachers in May of 2009. At that time, the mean annual wage for these professionals was $65,240 and most were employed by colleges (including community colleges), universities and professional schools.