Facts About Nursing Careers and Pay

Surprising Statistics About the Nursing Workforce

Nursing is one of the largest segments of the healthcare workforce. The nursing field is as varied and complex as it is large, and it is always evolving with the ever-changing healthcare environment. These quick facts will give you some quick insight into the nursing profession.


There Are More Than Four Million Nurses Active in the US Workforce

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Among over 4 million nurses with active licenses in the United States workforce as of September 2016, there were almost 3.2 million registered nurses (RN) and 827,628 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). The number grew over 500,000 from 2013.


Nursing Growth Outpaced US Population Growth

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According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the nursing population grew by 24.1 percent in the 2000s, with 500,000 registered nurses joining the workforce, and 90,000 new Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs). This growth rate is faster than the growth rate of the United States' general population during the same time period.


The Population of Male Nurses Has Tripled Since 1970

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Men are still only about 9.6 percent of the nursing workforce, but their numbers are growing as nursing is an option to replace jobs lost in other sectors of the economy. Also, nursing jobs are available throughout the country and in every community.

According to census bureau reports and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, males are still very much the minority in the nursing workforce.​


Male Nurses Earn More than Female Nurses

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According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, male nurses are worth, on average, about $5,100 more than female nurses. This may be one of the more controversial statistics about nursing. While women dominate the nursing field, men still earn more. In outpatient care settings, the gap may even be wider, as men in those settings earn salaries averaging about $7,000 higher than salaries earned by female nurses.


88 Percent of Nurses Have Personally Experienced or Witnessed Violence at Work

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Nursing is a relatively safe profession, but a recent survey from allnurses.com revealed that 88 percent of nurses have personally experienced or witnessed an act of violence at work. Therefore, training, preparation, and awareness are paramount among the nursing workforce to help prevent and minimize workplace violence towards patients and other nurses.


Some Nurses Earn Almost as Much as Doctors Do

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Certain medical specialties are very high-paying for nurses. Some of the highest paying, advanced practice nursing professions earn in the low- to mid-$100,000 range, which is very close to what some primary care physicians earn.

National estimates for nursing wages as of May 2015 was an annual wage of $43,000 for LPN/LVN, $71,000 for registered nurses, and $101,260 for nurse practitioners according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Nurses' Education Level Ranges From High School Diploma to Doctorate Degree

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The requirements are constantly evolving for some professions, but currently, the workforce includes some nurses who have just a high school diploma and a certification as a Licensed Practical Nurse (or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN). However, many employers are starting to require more college coursework for all nurses, even LVN/LPNs.

Registered nurses have at least a two-year associate's degree, and most have a four-year bachelor's degree.

Additionally, advanced practice nurses such as Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) must have a master's degree. Still, some nurses go on to complete a doctorate degree in nursing and become a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Kaiser Family Foundation, Total Number of Professionally Active Nurses

  • The US Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions, National Center for Health Workforce Analysis