How to become a chief nursing officer

As health care becomes more complex, nursing leadership positions are becoming more prominent. One of the highest nursing management positions you can achieve within a health care organization is that of chief nursing officer (CNO).


CNOs are responsible for ensuring that patient care, clinical and staffing standards are met. They are responsible for directing nursing activities according to hospital procedures.

CNOs typically perform the following:

  • Direct nursing services at a health care facility, monitor the quality of service and supervise nursing managers
  • Advise senior management on best practices in nursing and patient care
  • Work with health care leaders to establish compensation and benefit programs for nurses
  • Establish and supervise nurse recruitment, training and retention
  • Manage nursing budgets, patient care programs, new patient services and nursing policies

Average salaries

Chief nursing officers with an MSN/MBA earn, on average, $111,418 per year and are eligible for additional incentives and bonus pay. Additionally, upon graduation, you will be qualified to teach both nursing and business.

Work environment

Hospitals, clinics and medical settings are the work environment for CNOs, which typically means alternating between office and clinical settings. Many CNOs put in long hours and work weekends or late nights.

College degree

Executive-level prospects, such as CNOs, must obtain a Master of Science in Nursing. At Spring Arbor University, you can earn both an MSN and an MBA with our online MSN/MBA dual degree program. Learn more now.

About SAU Online

Since 1873, Spring Arbor University has helped students pursue wisdom by offering an education grounded in the Christian faith. What began as a small elementary and secondary school in the late 1800s has evolved into a premier private Christian university that offers engaging online programs designed to meet the unique needs of busy, working adults. While we’re not the only university to offer online degree programs, our distinction lies in our total commitment to providing educational excellence within a Christ-honoring and supportive online community.

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The baccalaureate degree program in nursing and master degree program in nursing at Spring Arbor University are accredited by
the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791