Registered Nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

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Registered Nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

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Job Prospects


Overall, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be good because of employment growth and the need to replace workers who retire over the coming decade. However, the supply of new nurses entering the labor market has increased in recent years. This increase has resulted in competition for jobs in some areas of the country. Generally, registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one. Employers also may prefer candidates who have some related work experience or certification in a specialty area, such as gerontology.

Employment projections data for registered nurses, 2016-26


Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric
Registered Nurses 29-1141 2,955,200 3,393,200 15 438,100 xlsx

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Employment projections data for registered nurses, 2016-26


Occupational Title
Registered Nurses
SOC Code
29-1141
Employment, 2016
2,955,200
Projected Employment, 2026
3,393,200
CHANGE, 2016-26
PERCENT
15
NUMERIC
438,100
EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY
xlsx

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Pay


The median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,100.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for registered nurses in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:


Government $75,900
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private $72,070
Ambulatory Healthcare Services $66,300
Nursing and Residential Care Facilities $62,320
Educational Services; State, Local, and Private $60,300

Because patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities need round-the-clock care, nurses in these settings usually work in shifts, covering all 24 hours. They may work nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be on call, which means that they are on duty and must be available to work on short notice. Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other places that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to work regular business hours.

Registered Nurses


Median annual wages, May 2017


Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Job Outlook


Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons.

Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the aging population, given that older people typically have more medical problems than younger people. Nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with various chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity.

The financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as possible may result in more people being admitted to long-term care facilities and outpatient care centers, and greater need for healthcare at home. Job growth is expected in facilities that provide long-term rehabilitation for stroke and head injury patients, and in facilities that treat people with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, because many older people prefer to be treated at home or in residential care facilities, registered nurses will be in demand in those settings.

Growth is also expected to be faster than average in outpatient care centers, where patients do not stay overnight, such as those which provide same-day chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and surgery. In addition, an increased number of procedures, as well as more sophisticated procedures previously done only in hospitals, are being performed in ambulatory care settings and physicians’ offices.

Registered Nurses


Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26


Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

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Similar Occupations


  Occupational Title Job duties Entry-Level education 2017 Median pay
Dental Hygienists Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. Associate's Degree $74,070
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, also called diagnostic imaging workers, operate special imaging equipment to create images or to conduct tests. The images and test results help physicians assess and diagnose medical conditions. Associate's Degree $65,620
EMTs and Paramedics Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. Postsecondary Nondegree Award $33,380
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. Postsecondary Nondegree Award $45,030
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state. Master's Degree $110,930
Physician Assistants Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients. Master's Degree $104,860
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Dental Hygienists
JOB DUTIES
Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Associate's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$74,070
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists
JOB DUTIES
Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, also called diagnostic imaging workers, operate special imaging equipment to create images or to conduct tests. The images and test results help physicians assess and diagnose medical conditions.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Associate's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$65,620
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
EMTs and Paramedics
JOB DUTIES
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Postsecondary Nondegree Award
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$33,380
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
JOB DUTIES
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Postsecondary Nondegree Award
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$45,030
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
JOB DUTIES
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Master's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$110,930
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Physician Assistants
JOB DUTIES
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Master's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$104,860

Professional Recruiter and Staffing Organizations


  • National Association of Personnel Services
  • Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals
  • American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment
  • National Association of Executive Recruiters
  • National Association for Health Care Recruitment
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association
  • American Staffing Association
  • Top Echelon Recruiting Network

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