Nursing by the Numbers

Group of young male and female nurses wearing scrubs
Group of young male and female nurses wearing scrubs

During the month of May, nurses are recognized for the tremendous effort and compassion they demonstrate daily. National Nurses Week, an annual celebration sponsored by the American Nurses Association, takes place from May 6 through the 12 each year. This widespread celebration coincides with nursing icon Florence Nightingale’s birthday, honoring a profession that is more than three million strong today. Read on to learn more about the nursing field and how this health care profession is growing so rapidly.


Professional demographics fluctuate with time. While some statistics related to the general makeup of nursing have not changed, other areas show new trends. According to the biannual National Nursing Workforce Survey performed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the average age of surveyed registered nurses was 51 years, a figure that has remained unchanged in their past several data sets. Growing though is the increased percentage of men in the field: the 2017 NCSBN survey pointed to more than 9% male nurses - substantially larger than the 2% male workforce documented in 1970.

Nurses from minority backgrounds are also showing an upswing in numbers. RNs who are black or African American (non-Hispanic) account for 9.9% of the nursing population; 8.3% of nurses are Hispanic or Latino; 1.3% self-identify as two or more races; 0.4% are American Indian or Alaskan Native. The pursuit of nursing by minorities will continue to rise, most notably within the Hispanic population, according to a study conducted by The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As the nursing profession expands, the HRSA projects that the field will continue to diversify.


The outlook of the nursing profession relays a high demand that continues to grow. Qualified nurses are in short supply in the modern professional landscape, due to an aging population and greater access to health care. This has resulted in consistent demands for new nurses, advanced credentialing, and projected growth in the field. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS), for example, forecasts a faster-than-average 15% growth in nursing jobs by 2026. This percentage translates to potentially more than 400,000 new nursing jobs in the coming years.


Salary statistics for nurses are also a great sign of health and longevity for the field. Averages vary depending on geographic and facility location, but the overall national picture is encouraging: the USBLS reported a 2018 median annual income for RNs of $71,730. This reflects an increase from the median salary of $63,000 recorded in the NCSBN 2017 survey.  Advanced degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner, position one to become a family nurse practitioner where average salaries are above $100,000 per year.  


Nurses often enjoy a remarkably high level of job satisfaction and are part of a group of professionals deemed trustworthy by the public. In a 2017 AMN Healthcare Survey, 83% of nurses agreed or strongly agreed to being satisfied with their choice of careers. In a 2016 Gallup poll, for example, nurses topped the list of most honest and ethical professionals. This is owed to the role that nurses play as both confidante and communicator between doctors and family members in health care settings. This level of professional respect, combined with the sheer fact that those who pursue roles in nursing have committed their lives to help the larger community around them, make the nursing field a hard one to surpass across professional parameters.

Nurses serve as both the frontline and backbone to quality patient care. With the arrival of National Nurses Week, the staff and faculty at Carson-Newman thank everyone who has dedicated their career to nursing and applauds those entering the field. Contact us today for more information about our online nursing programs. With expert clinical preparation fostered in our Christian-centered nursing curriculum, students who want to commit to the care of others can be on their way to success.

In Summary

  • The average age of surveyed registered nurses is 51 years (NCSBN)

  • 9% of nurses are male, versus 2% in 1970 (NCSBN)

  • Nurses from minority backgrounds are growing in number (HRSA):

    • 9.9% are black or African-American

    • 8.3% are Hispanic or Latino

    • 1.3% identify as two or more races

    • 0.4% are American Indian or Alaskan Native

  • Nursing jobs are growing faster-than-average at 15% by 2026 (USBLS)

  • The nursing field can anticipate more than 400,000 potential new job openings in the future (USBLS)

  • RNs showed an increase in annual income between 2017-2018 from $63,000 to $71,730 (NCSBN & USBLS)

  • On average, Family Nurse Practitioners make above $100,000 per year (USBLS)

  • 83% of nurses agree or strongly agree to job satisfaction with their choice of careers (AMN)


AMN Healthcare. (2017) 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses, Viewpoints on Leadership, Nursing Shortages, and Their Profession [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Clark, Jennifer (27 April 2017). 10 Thought-Provoking Statistics About Modern Nursing. Gebauer Company.

Hadda, Lisa M.., and Toney-Butler, Tammy J. (January 2019). Nursing Shortage. National Center for Biotechnology Information - StatPearls Publishing.

Minority Nurse. (2019). Springer Publishing Company.

National Nursing Workforce Study (2017). National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Norman, Jim. (19 December 2016). Americans Rate Healthcare Providers High on Honesty, Ethics. Gallup Social & Policy Issues.

Nursing Workforce Projections by Ethnicity and Race 2014-2030 (December 2017). National Center for Health Workforce Analysis.

Registered Nurses. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics – Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections.