How to Become a Nurse Supervisor


Nurse supervisors play an important role in health care. They hire, develop, and manage nursing staff, collaborate with patients’ other health care providers, and act as liaisons between nurses and physicians. Professionals who pursue this career path work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and public and private health care organizations.

Registered nurses (RNs) who are interested in pursuing supervisory roles must start by gaining the knowledge and experience they’ll need to be successful. Completing a certificate program, such as the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration and Leadership program from AdventHealth University Online, can help prepare graduates with the in-demand skills needed to pursue jobs in this field.

What Does a Nurse Supervisor Do?

Nurse supervisors, also known as nurse managers, are the leaders of their teams. They plan RN staffing schedules; coordinate treatment plans for patients; and assist, supervise, and coach members of the nursing staff as needed. Although nurse supervisors’ day-to-day duties can vary based on the size of the team they’re leading, common daily duties may include the following:

  • Onboarding and training RN staff
  • Supervising RNs in their department
  • Managing departmental budgets
  • Monitoring department resources, such as masks, gloves, and other types of medical supplies, and ordering replacements as needed
  • Disciplining nursing staff as needed
  • Ensuring RNs are adhering to quality-of-care procedures
  • Scheduling work shifts for RN staff
  • Providing emotional support to nurses, patients, and their families
  • Responding to patient inquiries
  • Maintaining departmental records
  • Building and maintaining rapport with doctors, nurses, and health care administrators

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies nurse supervisors under the broader category of medical and health services managers. According to the BLS, as of 2020, the largest employers of medical and health services managers, including nurse supervisors, included hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing and residential care facilities, governmental institutions, and outpatient care centers.

Although most nurse managers work full time, some work more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, nighttime, weekend, and holiday shifts may be required for individuals working in facilities that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Skills Needed to Become a Nurse Supervisor

Nurses interested in pursuing supervisory roles will be well served by developing a variety of hard and soft skills that include the following.

Analytical Skills

Laws pertaining to patient care and health care delivery are constantly changing. Not only must nurse supervisors be adept at keeping up with current regulations, if new laws are passed, they must understand how to adopt them and make procedural changes as required by law.

Leadership Skills

Professionals who choose this career path are the leaders of their teams. They must understand how to train, coach, and motivate staff, and be confident in their ability to communicate with doctors, department heads, and health care administrators. Strong leadership skills are needed to thrive in the role.

Interpersonal Skills

Nurse supervisors must be adept at connecting and communicating with patients, their families, and RNs on their team. Candidates with superior interpersonal skills are likely to be successful at managing health care communications on a variety of levels.

Technical Skills

Health care technology is changing rapidly. Nurse supervisors must remain up to date on advances in patient charting and best practices for maintaining electronic medical records, among many technical innovations in health care equipment and processes.

Steps Needed to Become a Nurse Supervisor

Becoming a nurse supervisor doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of education, training, and job experience. Below are just a few of the common steps needed to become a nurse manager.

Step #1: Meet Nurse Supervisor Degree Requirements

Nurse managers begin their careers working as registered nurses. Consequently, the first step toward becoming a nurse supervisor is to earn the required degree to become an RN, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Upon graduation, students must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain their nursing license. Candidates who have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and an advanced education, such as earning a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration and Leadership, are likely to have the best job prospects.

Step #2: Gain Professional Experience

RNs who wish to pursue leadership roles must gain clinical experience first. Most health care organizations require candidates to have between three and five years of on-the-job nursing experience to be considered for managerial positions.

Step #3: Maintain Licensure and Get Certified

Nurse managers must maintain their RN licensure. Each state has different requirements regarding what RNs must do to maintain and renew their nursing license. While states such as Colorado and Indiana do not require RNs to complete continuing education (CE) coursework to maintain their licensure, California and Georgia require that nurses complete 30 hours of CE coursework every two years.

Additionally, although not required, some nurse managers choose to obtain additional professional certifications, such as the certified nurse manager and leader (CNML) credential from the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). This certification is designed exclusively for nurse supervisors and managers. RNs who possess it have demonstrated they have advanced knowledge of essential elements of leadership and nurse management.

Nurse Supervisor Employment Outlook and Salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment of medical and health services managers, including nurse supervisors, is projected to grow by 32% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average projected for all occupations. Nurse burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the baby boomer nurse retirement wave, and the aging U.S. population are expected to be driving forces of health care job growth.

Additionally, PayScale reports that, as of September 2021, the median annual salary of nurse supervisors was approximately $77,000, with earners in the top 10th percentile reporting annual earnings of more than $103,000. Salary ranges vary based on numerous factors, such as an individual’s experience level, whether they’ve completed an advanced degree, and the geographical region in which the position is located.

Become a Nurse Supervisor

RNs who are looking to pursue managerial roles are likely to find that becoming a nurse supervisor is a good fit for their career goals. Completing advanced education, such as by earning a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration and Leadership from AdventHealth University Online, can equip graduates with the in-demand skills they’ll need to pursue leadership roles in this dynamic field. Credits earned in the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration and Leadership program can be applied towards AHU’s Master of Science in Nursing degree.

Are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level? Discover how AdventHealth University Online’s Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration and Leadership program can prepare you for the job you want.

Recommended Readings

BSN vs MSN: Deciding the Right Path for You
Nurse Communication: Tips, Tools, and Strategies
The Benefits of an Online Nursing Education


American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Certified Nurse Manager and Leader Certification
Betterteam, Nursing Supervisor Job Description
Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Roles of a Supervisor in Primary Nursing?”
Indeed, Learn About Being a Nurse Manager
Monster, Nurse Supervisor Job Description Template
PayScale, Average Nursing Supervisor Hourly Pay
Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, “Challenges Faced by Direct Care Nurse Managers During the Initial Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: A Reflection”
TalentLyft, Nursing Supervisor Job Description Template
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

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