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What Is the Employment Outlook for Registered Nurses?

Job growth for registered nurses depends on many different factors. Read on to learn more about the employment outlook and salary information for this career, as well as how to increase your chances of getting a job.

Career Overview

Registered nurses perform a variety of tasks in medical settings and they must hold a nursing diploma, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in order to be eligible to work in the field. Job growth is expected to be strong from 2019-2029 as demand for medical services increases and current RNs retire.

Important Facts about this Occupation

LicensureAll RNs must hold a nursing license
CertificationAvailable in specialized areas like pediatrics and gerontology; typically voluntary, but some employers may require it
Work EnvironmentBeyond health facilities, RNs work in schools, community centers or the military. Risks include back injuries and exposure to infectious diseases or hazardous materials.
Similar OccupationsDental Hygienists, EMTs and Paramedics, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Nurse Anesthetists, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners

Projected Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts overall job growth of 7% between 2019 and 2029 for RNs (www.bls.gov). This growth is faster than average in comparison to all other occupations. In 2019, approximately 3.1 million RNs were employed in the country. This number is expected to grow by 221,900 to nearly 3.3 million positions by 2029.

Factors Affecting Job Growth

The number of people entering retirement age in the coming years is expected to create job growth for RNs. The BLS predicts that many of the elderly people seeking care will need treatment at their homes or in residential nursing facilities instead of hospitals.

The BLS notes that healthcare reform will also have an effect on employment growth since more patients will be able to get medical care, which will lead to a need for more nurses. In addition, there's likely to be job growth in long-term care facilities as hospitals discharge patients sooner. Outpatient care centers should also see RN job growth as some patients require same-day services, such as rehabilitation and chemotherapy.

Improving Your Prospects

The BLS notes that RNs should have good job prospects as those already in the occupation retire over the coming years and more workers are needed to replace them. However, you can improve your prospects with work experience and a nursing bachelor's degree.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, registered nurses made an average salary of $77,460 as of May 2019, though different types of healthcare facilities paid higher or lower wages. Overall, the bottom 10% of RNs made $52,080 or lower, while the top 10% earned $111,220 or higher. Out of the top five employers for these workers, those employed in outpatient care centers earned an average yearly wage was $84,720 as of May 2019. The top employer of RNs was hospitals, and these nurses earned $79,460 on average.