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Quick Facts on Registered Nurses (RNs)

  • Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, perform basic duties that include treating patients, educating patients and the public about various medical conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients’ family members.

  • Registered Nurses (RNs) continue to be the healthcare occupation with the largest employment--2.5 million jobs. This is nearly three times the number of physicians and surgeons at 863,000.

  • Women comprised 91.3% of RNs in 2006.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2006, 10.9 percent of all RNs were black, 7.5 percent were Asian, and 4.2 percent were Hispanic.

  • The major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, and a diploma from an approved nursing program.

  • About 3 out of 5 jobs as RNs are in hospitals.

  • Median weekly earnings of RNs are far above the $671 average for all occupations. Women employed as RNs in 2006 had median weekly earnings $971; for men, the figure was $1,074.

  • Between 2004 and 2014, RNs are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all occupations—703,000. Retail salespersons will create the largest--736,000 jobs.

  • Job opportunities in most specialties and employment settings are expected to be excellent, with some employers reporting difficulty in attracting and retaining enough RNs.

  • Job opportunities for RNs in all specialties are expected to be excellent. Between the 2004-2014 period, employment of RNs is expected to grow at 29.4 percent--much faster than the 13.0 percent average for all occupations.

  • BLS also projects that there will be 1.2 million total job openings for RNs due to growth and net replacements between the 2004-2014 period.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, January 2007 and the Monthly Labor Review, November 2005, “Occupational employment projections to 2014.”