Nurse director poses alongside nurse colleagues.

Leadership Roles in Healthcare: The Nurse Director Job Market and Salary

Nursing: Leadership, Education & Informatics

Global health care spending is expected to reach $10 trillion by 2022—up from $7.7 trillion in 2017, according to Deloitte. As the expenditures increase and new technologies transform health care access, nurse directors are needed to manage and supervise emerging nursing units in various health care settings.

For students pursuing a nurse director career path, here’s a guide to the nurse director job responsibilities, needed skills to succeed in this role, salary opportunities, job outlook, and growth projections.

The Duties of a Nurse Director

The nurse director job is a higher-level professional position that manages, trains, and evaluates nursing staffs; creates and optimizes processes for providing the highest-quality care; and maintains regulatory and policy compliance. Individuals in this role must clearly communicate goals and strategies to employees and managers.

Nurse directors may manage the nursing staff of an entire health facility or a specific department. As directors, their duties and interactions with other health care leaders significantly impact a facility’s quality of care and patient outcomes.

What Are a Nurse Director’s Fundamental Skills?

Nurse directors must possess leadership and analytical skills as well as soft skills like communication and problem-solving. They must have the organizational abilities to delegate administrative tasks as well as interpersonal and critical thinking skills to motivate and inspire employees.

Most important, nurse directors are leaders. Their units rely on them for guidance while their managers or executives seek their feedback in making important decisions about staffing, scheduling, and medical resources.

Steps for Becoming a Nurse Director

 A nurse director requires certain educational qualifications and experience to successfully fulfill the role.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most medical and health services managers have a bachelor’s degree. Those pursuing leadership roles, such as nurse director, are likely to have an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing, for example, helps future medical professionals build the essential skills to pursue high-level health care careers. Along with core studies in nursing practice, policy, and informatics, the degree program enables students to choose a Healthcare Systems Leadership concentration, which can transition into a nurse director job.


Employers require that nurse director candidates possess relevant work experience. Individuals pursuing this career path can gain this experience by obtaining an administrative role in a health care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home. With a background in a nursing management position, prospective or current nurse directors are well-positioned for executive positions such as chief nursing officer.

Nurse Director Salary

A nurse director’s average annual salary is $83,919, according to PayScale. Various factors including years of experience, job location, and certifications affect a nurse director’s salary. Critical skills in home health care, operations, budget and people management also impact salary negotiations.

Future Growth of the Nurse Director Role

The BLS expects medical and health services managers’ jobs to grow by 20% from 2016 to 2026—much faster than the 7% national average for all occupations. This growth will open more than 72,000 jobs in that time period. Aging baby boomers and new technologies impacting health care services will increase the demand for nurse director jobs.

Building a Career in Nurse Leadership         

Since 1819, Norwich has maintained a leadership position in innovative education. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that enable students to make a positive impact on their workplaces and communities.

Norwich’s online Master of Science in Nursing helps students hone their knowledge and skills to attain positions in nursing informatics, healthcare systems leadership, or nursing education. Completing this degree gives students the foundational skills needed to excel at a nurse director role at an exemplary level.

Recommended Readings

5 Leadership Styles for Clinical Nurse Leaders
How Nurses Can Advance Medical Research
Six Nurse Leadership Opportunities for Master of Science in Nursing Graduates


2019 Global Health Care Outlook, Deloitte
8 Tips to Becoming a Successful Director of Nursing (Part 1), American Association of Directors of Nursing Services
Medical and Health Services Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Director, Nursing Salary, PayScale
Master of Science in Nursing, Norwich University