The III-V nitride semiconductors appear to be excellent host materials for optical device applications involving thin films doped with rare earth atoms. In particular, GaN epilayers doped with Er ions have shown a highly reduced thermal quenching of the Er luminescence intensity from cryogenic to elevated temperatures. The remarkable thermal stability of the light emission may be due to the large energy bandgap of the material, as well as to the optical inactivity of material defects in the GaN film. In this paper we present recent developments concerning the luminescence characteristics of Er-doped GaN thins films. We have used two methods for doping GaN films with Er ions, ion implantation and in-situ incorporation during gas source metal-organic molecular beam epitaxy (MOMBE). Bandedge (at ∼ 0.34 µm) and infrared (at ∼ 1.54 µm) photoluminescence (PL) spectra have been measured for both types of Er-doped GaN films. Considerably different emission spectra have been observed depending upon the incorporation method and the heat treatment procedure. In situ Er-doped GaN layers have been processed into hybrid light emitting devices and emission spectra at 1.54 µm have been measured.