By the Numbers: Nursing Statistics 2020

A group of ethnically diverse nurses and doctors
A group of ethnically diverse nurses and doctors

According to recent nursing statistics, nursing continues to outshine other health care professions in many key areas. Diversity, demand, and salaries keep growing, while trust in nurses remains at an all-time high.

These latest figures add to the widespread celebration of National Nurses Week underway May 6th through 12th. Sponsored by the American Nurses Association (ANA), Nurses Week is an annual event recognizing nurses for their tremendous effort and compassion, as they work collectively to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities nationwide.

On the 200 year anniversary of Florence Nightingale and nearly 4 million nurses strong, the nursing profession continues to flourish. Read on to explore nursing statistics and find out why.


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A group of ethnically diverse nurses in blue scrubs smiling outdoors with crossed arms


The demographics of nurses fluctuate with time. While nursing statistics related to the general makeup of professionals have not changed, other areas show new trends.

According to the most recent 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. This figure has remained unchanged in the past several data sets.

Growing, though, is the increased percentage of men in the field. The NCSBN survey pointed to more than 9% male nurses - substantially larger than the 2% male workforce documented in 1970.

The number of nurses from minority backgrounds is also on the upswing. According to the NCSBN nursing statistics, the nursing population is comprised of:

  • 9.9% Black or African American (non-Hispanic) nurses

  • 8.3% Hispanic or Latino nurses

  • 1.3% of nurses who identify as two or more races

  • 0.4% American Indian or Alaskan Native nurses

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.

Two nurses in scrubs talking in a hospital room with their patient lying in a bed in the background


Nursing statistics show the demand for registered nurses (RNs) remains high.  That’s because the nation has a growing, aging population and greater access to health care.

These factors have resulted in a consistent need for new nurses, advanced credentialing, and projected growth in the field.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, has forecasted a faster-than-average 12% growth in nursing jobs by 2028. This percentage translates to potentially more than 371,000 new nursing jobs in the coming years.

Close-up of a hospital mask, needle, and stethoscope


Nursing statistics for salary are also a great sign of health and longevity for the profession.

Typical salaries vary depending on the geographic and facility location, but the overall national picture is encouraging. The BLS reported a 2019 median annual income for RNs of $73,300. This reflects an increase from the median income of $63,000 recorded in the latest NCSBN survey.

Advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner, position nurses to earn even more. According to BLS, the median nurse practitioner salary in 2019 was $109,820. 

A group of nurses and doctors placing their hands together in a circle


Registered nurses typically enjoy a high level of job satisfaction, according to the latest nursing statistics.

In a 2019 American Nurse Today (ANT) survey, 8 in 10 nurses said they were satisfied with their current jobs. Approximately the same number said they would become a nurse again.

Nursing statistics also reveal that nurses are held in high esteem by the public.

For the 18th year in a row, the public ranked nursing as the most honest and ethical profession in a 2020 Gallup poll. Eighty-five percent of respondents said nurses’ standards were “very high” or “high.”

Nurses are trusted greatly because they serve as both confidantes and liaisons between doctors and family members. This level of professional respect, combined with the fact that nurses have dedicated their lives to helping others, make the profession difficult to surpass in integrity, especially in today’s COVID-19 climate. 

Female doctor and nurse reviewing patient notes in a hospital room

Nursing Statistics Summarized

  • 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 12% by 2028 (BLS).

  • The nursing field can anticipate more than 371,000 potential new job openings in the future (BLS).

  • RNs showed an increase in median annual income between 2017 and 2019 from $63,000 to $73,300 (NCSBN & BLS).

  • The median salary of nurse practitioners is over $109,000 per year (BLS).

  • 80% of nurses are satisfied with their current jobs (ANT).

Nurse practitioner in a hospital reviewing a binder containing patient notes

Serving Communities and Beyond

Nurses serve as both the frontline and backbone of quality patient care. With the arrival of National Nurses Week, the staff and faculty at Carson-Newman University thank everyone who has dedicated their career to nursing and continues to touch lives with compassion.

Carson-Newman offers expert clinical preparation and a Christian-centered curriculum for those who aspire to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). Through our affordable and convenient online FNP program, which provides clinical placements, you can broaden your impact and make holistic patient care more accessible in your community.

Learn more about our online MSN-FNP or Post Master’s FNP Certificate programs.

About Carson-Newman University

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a nationally ranked liberal arts university. An online, yet personal, learning environment connects you with fellow students, faculty, and staff. Faith and learning are combined to create evidence-based online undergraduate and graduate nursing programs designed to transform you into a more autonomous caregiver. Through its online program and student-centric curriculum, Carson-Newman provides a life-changing education where students come first. 


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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.

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

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.

Minority Nurse. (2019). Springer Publishing Company.