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Nursing Over the Next Decade

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Across the country, registered nurses who invest the time to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing can qualify for new kinds of health care jobs in unusual locations. As physicians tend to focus on specialties instead of on general practice, more RNs find work as nurse practitioners.

Working in outpatient clinics operated by health insurers or pharmacy chains, these professionals diagnose and treat routine illnesses under the guidance of a supervising physician. Patients love the flexibility of getting same day appointments, while nurses might enjoy the challenge of a new role outside their traditional settings. Government analysts predict that the success of this new treatment model will drive demand for registered nurses even higher over the coming decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected national employment growth for registered nurses from 2010 to 2020 is 26 percent (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

California's high RN salaries

The typical registered nurse salary in California reflects the state's high cost of living. These nurses earned an annual mean wage of $90,860 in May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/oes, 2012). More than a quarter million nursing professionals call California home, with nearly a third of that population centered in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The San Francisco Bay area and nearby Silicon Valley make up the second largest concentration of nurses in California, while the rest of the state enjoys relatively even professional coverage compared to other parts of the country. However, high demand for health care workers in San Jose, Sunnyvale, and San Francisco has pushed annual mean nursing wages in those cities above $100,000 as of May 2011. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found the annual mean wage of registered nurses in the affluent suburb of Vallejo was just over $120,000 per year (bls.gov/oes, 2012).

Northern states can offer city life and strong salaries

New York state posted the second largest average salary in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, with nurses in New York earning an annual mean wage of $75,370 per year in May 2011 (bls.gov/oes, 2012). More than 96,000 registered nurses work in the New York metropolitan area that overlaps with parts of northern New Jersey. In fact, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that registered nurses now account for one in every 50 working adults in the region.

While the state of Illinois didn't land on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list of states with the most registered nurses, the city of Chicago boasts the second largest population of nursing professionals in the country. More than 77,000 RNs work in the Windy City, or in nearby Joliet or Naperville (bls.gov/oes, 2012).

Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania feature nontraditional nursing jobs

Florida and Texas registered nurses tend to earn around $65,000 as an annual mean wage (as of May 2011), reflecting slightly higher competition for traditional nursing jobs in those states (bls.gov/oes, 2012). With higher concentrations of retirees in the southern parts of the United States, registered nurses might land home health care jobs that offer greater flexibility than hospital jobs.

Philadelphia may be helping boost the registered nurse average annual wage in Pennsylvania just over the $67,000 mark (bls.gov.oes/2012). The city boasts some of the country's oldest and most established research hospitals, along with deep roots in the pharmaceutical industry. Many of the region's 45,000 registered nurses assist with drug trials and experimental therapies.

Sources

"Registered Nurses," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291111.htm#%282%29
"Registered Nurses," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm


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