There is a huge demand for nurses across the country and this demand will only increase. Hence, as a nurse, you have a vast range of choices from rural to urban, from temperate climate to winter snow-belts, small town to densely populated cities. First, we’ll look at what is driving this thriving occupation nationally.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2014 that there were  approximately 2,715,000 nursing jobs in the country.  According to the BLS, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. Also, an article in The Atlantic magazine in February 2016, stated that the primary driving force in this looming crisis is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75 percent to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen.

The best paying cities for RN’s don’t translate to the most nursing jobs per 1,000 jobs. For example, San Francisco employs 12,160 nurses as of May 2015 or 11.92 per 1,000 jobs and had the highest average wage of $133,650. Impressive salary but the city also is number one on the Expatistan cost of living index for all major U.S. cities. The top 10 paying cities with salaries exceeding $100k are all in California. As a contrast, in Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, there were 12,650 nurses employed (May 2015) with 43.95 per 1,000 jobs and an average income of $65,380.

If you prefer to live in a Mediterranean type climate (dry summer) and be in California, perhaps the Mother Lode or Gold Country is the place to work. Named for its historic gold mines, this non-metropolitan region employs 20.11 nurses per 1,000 jobs with a median salary of $101,580.  Another non-metropolitan area that offers a median salary of $72,180 (BLS 2015), and employs 36.60 nurses per 1,000 jobs is west central New Hampshire. This area has the highest ratio of nurses (36.60) of all the non-metro areas per the BLS. Eastern Kentucky is next at 33.65 per 1,000 jobs.

According to The American Nurses Association report of 2014,  fourteen states projected an annual growth rate of 20% or more, with 8 in the western USA: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and Montana, plus Texas. The BLS data concurs that there are large numbers of employed nurses in the major cities of most of these states. The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area employs 35,000 nurses; Dallas-Plano-Irving: 37,640; and Houston: 46,700. In the east, NYC employs close to 120,000 nurses but ranks 7th highest median salary at $86,410 (2015).

Statistically, there is a host of reasons to focus on a particular demographic area to work. There are also personal choices beyond the influence of the data. Perhaps more significant than location is the value of your education. In a study published in the October 2014 issue of Medical Care, researchers reported that a 10% increase in the proportion of baccalaureate-prepared nurses on hospital units was associated with lowering the odds of patient mortality by 10.9%. The study also stated that if 80% of nurses had a BSN, this would result in shorter hospital stays and readmission rates. The National Academy of Medicine recommended in 2010 that 80% of nurses should have a BSN by 2020.

Editor’s Note: To assist you in your academics, we invite you to read how fast a RN to BSN degree can be completed. As well as where some of the cheapest RN to BSN tuition is offered online. For those with a BSN, you may be interested in pursuing your MSN of which there are many top online MSN degree programs to chose.