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Expected Growth in Nursing Careers

by Maria Christensen, studioD

When researchers at the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Albany analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they found that the healthcare system will need hundreds of thousands of new registered nurses from 2010 to 2020 to fill vacant positions and meet demand. Registered nursing is the profession with the largest job growth in the country, and choosing to make this your career can give you excellent job stability.


The BLS expects registered nurses to enjoy the largest increase in employment of any occupation from 2010 to 2020, with the addition of nearly 712,000 jobs. RNs who obtain a master's degree and go into an advanced practice to become nurse practitioners, nurse midwives or nurse anesthetists will have plenty of opportunities as well. Licensed practical nurses, also known as licensed vocational nurses, should see the number of jobs increase by 168,500 from 2010 to 2020. A certificate program that typically takes a year to complete is needed to become a licensed practical nurse, as opposed to the associate or bachelor's degree required of registered nurses.

Average Job Growth

The BLS expects jobs across all occupations to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020. The projected growth rate in nursing careers exceeds that average. Registered nursing jobs are expected to grow by 26 percent during the decade, while licensed practical nurses should see a growth rate of 22 percent.

Geographic Growth

While job growth should be high for all nursing professions, the need for nurses varies by geographic region. Nursing Economics notes that the projected growth rate of the nursing workforce will be highest in the South and Midwest from 2010 to 2030 and lowest in the West and Northeast. Differences in the growth rates are attributed to the larger proportion of younger RNs in the South and Midwest, combined with smaller proportions of RNs over age 50 in those regions.


Working as a nurse provides a good living, particularly as you work your way up. Licensed practical nurses averaged a yearly median wage of $40,380 in 2010, reports the BLS. Registered nurses earned an average of $69,110 per year in 2011, while nurse practitioners earned a yearly average of $91,450 in 2011.

About the Author

Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications, including the "Savannah Morning News" and "Art Voices Magazine." She authored a guidebook to Seattle and works as the business team lead for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Photo Credits

  • Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images