Research Summary. Nurses in all forms have some of the most important jobs in our society, but unfortunately, we’re experiencing a shortage of these skilled professionals. Here are some statistics on nursing and nurses:

  • There are over 4 million nurses in the U.S.

  • 9.4% of nurses are male, and 90.5% are female.

  • We will need 1.2 million registered nurses by 2030 to address the current shortage.

  • The average age of employed RNs is 47.9 years old.

  • U.S. RNs earn a median annual salary of $77,600.

  • The majority of U.S. RNs are white, as seen in the table below:

    Race/Ethnicity Share of RNs
    White (non-Hispanic) 68.4%
    Black (non-Hispanic) 11.6%
    Asian (non-Hispanic) 9.26%
    Two or more races 1.9%
    Other (incl. Hispanic, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, and others) 1.72%

Nursing Statistics by Nursing Job Statistics

  • The median annual pay of U.S. RNs is $77,600 as of May 2021.

  • It’s estimated that there will be an average of 194,500 job openings for registered nurses every year from 2020 to 2030.

  • New nurses work an average of 39.4 hours per week, usually in three 12-hour shifts plus a few hours of overtime.

Nursing Statistics by the U.S. Nursing Shortage

  • By 2030, the U.S. will need 1.2 million new RNs.

    The U.S. has been experiencing a shortage of nurses since around 2012. While this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, it is one of the largest shortages the country has ever experienced.

    Experts predict that to combat this shortage, nursing schools will need to produce 1.2 million new RNs between 2020 and 2030 – a tall order since there are about 3 million RNs practicing in 2020.

  • The nursing shortage is worst in South Carolina, where there are just 7.9 RNs per 1,000 residents.

    This is the lowest rate of any state, but here are the five worst:

    State Number of RNs per 1,000 Residents
    South Carolina 7.9
    Nevada 9.2
    California 9.3
    Texas 9.6
    Georgia 10.2
  • California is expected to have the most severe nurse shortage by 2030.

    The state is expected to have about 44,500 too few nurses by 2030. Here are the five states with the worst projected shortages as far as the total number of nurses needed goes:

    State Projected Shortage of Nurses
    California 44,500
    Texas 15,900
    New Jersey 11,400
    South Carolina 10,400
    Alaska 5,400
  • In 2020, baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs had to turn away over 80,000 qualified nursing school applicants.

    They had to do this because of shortages of educators and clinical sites as well as classroom space and money.

  • The average annual turnover rate for RNs working in hospitals is 17.8%.

    However, this number can swing between 8.8% and 37%, depending on the nursing specialty and the state they work in.

Nursing Statistics by Employment Numbers and Projections

  • As of 2020, there are over four million nurses practicing in the U.S.

    About three million of these are registered nurses, 211,000 are nurse practitioners, and 676,000 are licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses.

  • 84.5% of licensed RNs are employed in nursing.

    The remaining percentage of licensed RNs either aren’t employed or aren’t working as nurses.

  • From 2020 to 2030, the job growth rate of RN roles is expected to be 9%.

    This is about the same rate as the average job growth rate for all occupations in the U.S., and it will result in the number of employed registered nurses increasing from about 3.1 million in 2020 to about 3.3 million in 2030.

Nursing Statistics by the Healthcare Industry

Nursing Statistics by Nurse Demographics

  • The largest share of RNs are 65 years old or older.

    19% of RNs fall into this age category. Here is the share of RNs in each age range:

    Age Group Share of RNs in 2020
    18-29 8.4%
    30-34 9.5%
    35-39 10%
    40-44 9.1%
    45-49 9.9%
    50-54 10.5%
    55-59 11.3%
    60-64 12.2%
    65 and up 19%
  • The most common education level for registered nurses is a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

    Here is the breakdown of U.S. registered nurses’ highest levels of nursing education:

    Highest Level of Nursing Education Share of RNs in 2020
    Diploma 6.7%
    Associate degree 28.1%
    Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) degree 48.1%
    Master’s degree 14.9%
    Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) 0.7%
    Doctoral degree (DNP) 1.4%
    Doctoral degree (other nursing) 0.1%
  • The vast majority of U.S. RNs are white and non-Hispanic.

    Here is the breakdown of the percentage of nurses of each race and ethnicity:

    Race/Ethnicity Share of RNs
    White (non-Hispanic) 68.4%
    Black (non-Hispanic) 11.6%
    Asian (non-Hispanic) 9.26%
    Two or more races 1.9%
    Other (incl. Hispanic, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, and others) 1.72%
  • About 9.4% of RNs are men, 90.5% are women, and 0.1% identify themselves as “other.”

    The share of male RNs is up from 9.1% in 2017 and 6.6% in 2013.

Nursing Statistics FAQ

  1. How many nurses are there in the United States?

    There are over four million nurses in the United States. The majority of these are registered nurses, followed by licensed practical nurses and nurse practitioners.

    As of 2020, there are just under three million RNs practicing in the U.S. In addition, there are about 676,000 licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses and 211,000 nurse practitioners. 84.5% of all licensed RNs are employed in nursing, so there are even more RNs than those numbers indicate.

    RNs can expect to see the number of jobs in their field reach close to 3.3 million in 2030, up from 3.1 million in 2020. This is an average growth rate of 9%, which is on par with the nation’s job growth rate across all occupations.

  2. What is the average age of nurses?

    The average age of nurses is 47.9 years old. This is how old the average employed RN is in the U.S.

    The largest percentage of nurses are 65 years old or older. However, with 19% of RNs falling into this age group as of 2020. The 60-64 category comes next, accounting for 12.2% of all RNs, and then 55- to 59-year-olds account for 11.3% of the nursing population.

    The percentages steadily drop as the age groups do until they go from 9.1% between the ages of 41 and 44 to 10% between the ages of 35 and 39.

  3. Where do nurses work?

    The majority of registered nurses work in hospitals. The employer with the second-largest share of registered nurses is ambulatory healthcare services. Here is the breakdown of what percentage of nurses work for each type of employer:

    Employer Type Percentage of Employed Registered Nurses Who Work There
    Hospitals (State, Local, and Private) 61%
    Ambulatory Healthcare Services 18%
    Nursing and Residential Care Facilities 6%
    Government 5%
    Educational Services (State, Local, and Private) 3%
  4. What is the average annual turnover rate for nurses?

    The average annual turnover rate is 17.8%. This means that 17.8% of a hospital’s RN staff will no longer be there the next year. It’s important to note that this is the rate for hospital-employed RNs, and variations in nursing specialties and geographic location can swing the rate from anywhere between 8.8% to 37%.

    These high turnover rates don’t just impact other nurses’ working situations and patients’ outcomes: They impact hospitals’ bottom lines as well. One study found that moving the turnover rate by just 1% could cost or save the average hospital $306,400 a year, depending on which way the percentage moved.

    In addition, hiring and training new nurses and paying current ones overtime can cost hospitals $5 million a year – money they could be putting into improving patient care and expanding their services.

  5. What is the success rate of becoming a nurse?

    The success rate of becoming a nurse is 88.29%. In 2018, 88.29% of nursing school graduates who took the NCLEX-RN (the certifying test for RNs) passed on the first try.

    In addition to this, about 80% of nursing students made it through to graduation, which is higher than the 70% of undergraduate students who stayed in school all the way through their four-year degree program and the 60% of students who did the same in two-year programs.

    So, as long as you can qualify for a nursing program and find one that has room for you, the likelihood that you’ll complete the program is relatively high.


There are over four million nurses in the U.S., including registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and other vocational nurses. When people typically think of nurses, however, they usually think of RNs, and this makes sense since they account for about three million of the total four million nurses in the country.

90.5% of RNs are female, 68.4% are white, and on average, they’re 47.9 years old. They earn a median salary of $77,600 a year, and about 60% of them work in hospitals. Of those RNs who work in hospitals, about 15% work in critical care, which means they’re in ICUs and ERs taking care of patients who are dangerously ill or injured.

Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. experienced a number of nursing shortages, but none quite as significant as the one we’ve been experiencing in recent years. Experts are predicting that by 2030, we’ll need 1.2 million new RNs to combat this shortage, which is about one-third of the number of RNs who are currently in the workforce.


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  3. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. “The 2021 American Nursing Shortage: A Data Study.” Accessed on May 25, 2022.

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  7. American Association of Nurse Practitioners. “NP Fact Sheet.” Accessed on May 25, 2022.

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  11. Statista. “Share of Registered Nurses in the United States in 2019, by Race and Ethnicity.” Accessed on May 25, 2022.

  12. Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities. “How Hard is Nursing School? Look at the Facts.” Accessed on May 25, 2022.