What’s the Employment Outlook for Nurses?

What’s the Employment Outlook for Nurses?

Mar 19, 2015 | 9:00 am

Most people consider nursing a hot career choice, and data seems to back it—nursing employment in the United States was up even during the worst recession in the nation’s history. Experts say this boom was a result of the decade-long nursing shortage that started in the late 90s, but has the bubble burst, or are employment numbers for nurses still on the up and up?

Nursing Employment Now

It’s debatable whether the nursing shortage has ended completely, but there is less of a shortage today than compared to five years ago. A need remains, but it may take some flexibility to find coveted positions for the next few years.

Nursing employment opportunities vary greatly by region, notes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) (RWJF), citing research from their 2012 report “Nursing: Where the Jobs Are” that showed how jobs in certain urban areas of California, such as San Francisco, were near saturation, while health care organizations in rural areas, such as San Bernardino and Riverside County, struggled to find nurses.

Nonetheless, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) research expects faster-than-average job growth for registered nurses between 2012 and 2022, which points to an ongoing need that some feel will only intensify. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported a 2.6 percent enrollment increase in BSN programs in 2013, but admits that the increase won’t be enough to meet the projected need for nurses.

Nursing Employment in the Near Future

The AACN projects a growing need for nurses for reasons such as a soon-to-be large-scale retiring nursing workforce, an aging population that requires more health care and an increased number of Americans gaining medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Here are some of the latest numbers on the most common forms of nursing employment provided by the BLS:

•Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) can expect to see employment increases of up to 25 percent between 2012 and 2022. Their reported median annual wage is $41,540 (as of May 2012).

•RNs are projected to see nursing employment growth of 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average for all occupations. Their reported median annual income as of 2012 was $65,470.

•Advanced Practice Nurses (APRNs), such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners can expect an amazing 31 percent growth in employment between 2012 and 2022. Their reported median annual income as of 2012 was $96,460.

In short, the employment outlook for nurses remains strong, both now and in the future. In terms of opportunity, the sky is still the limit.