Nurses Top the List Of Most In-Demand Occupation

Nov 29, 2013

Medical - Nurse - DoctorStill having problems filling job orders for nurses? No surprise there. Wanted Analytics says there are more job postings for registered nurses than for any other occupation in the U.S., a distinction the profession has held on and off (but never out of the top 10) for years.

According to Wanted, there were 350,000 nurse positions advertised online in October, a 15% increase over a year ago. The research firm rates the difficulty of filling a registered nurse position at 39 on its 100 point scale.

But don’t be fooled by that relatively modest hiring difficulty ranking. The company rates hiring difficulty based on the number of available jobs versus the number of qualified individuals in the country, meaning the total number of licensed RNs. Wanted puts that number at 2.663 million.

RN Job postingsHowever, as any healthcare recruiter will tell you, if you’re trying to fill a specialty position, the difficulty, not to mention the pay rate, rises dramatically. The median yearly salary for an RN is $72,450 nationally, says Wanted. Salaries for some nursing specialties can be $10,000 and even $25,000 higher, particularly in major urban areas.

To put that in perspective, the U.S. Census Bureau put the median RN salary at $42,562 in 1999. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average RN salary at $64,690.

Now consider that in 1999 the average of all the yearly salaries of year round workers was $32,624.  In 2010, it was $47,362. The increase was 45%. For nurses it was 52%.

Even at that, hiring is anything but easy. RN job postings can stay online for seven or eight weeks, a clear indicator of hiring difficulty. Even though urban centers have seen some of the biggest gains in demand for RNs, recruiting nurses in rural areas poses the biggest challenges. Wanted says Medford, Oregon, a city of 76,000 in a county of just over 200,000, scores 77 on its hiring difficulty scale, the highest in the country.

While experience is required for specialist nurses, newly minted graduates have an easier time finding that first job than do students generally. According to a study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 59% of new baccalaureate nursing graduates had job offers at graduation. By comparison, that percentage for all graduates was 29.3. Six months after graduating, 89% had job offers.

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