Nursing Job Growth: Opportunities for Advancement

A nurse checks the blood pressure of a smiling older patient.

The U.S. health care landscape is changing. Experts predict a surge in the demand for advanced and chronic care services in the coming years, particularly as baby boomers age. Nursing job growth opportunities are especially promising for advanced practice nurses, who can play an essential role in filling patient-care gaps.

For nurses who wish to take advantage of these opportunities in advanced care roles, such as nurse practitioner (NP), education is essential. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing can be a critical step toward career advancement.

What Is the Nursing Job Growth Outlook?

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reveals the extent of job growth across different nursing vocations.

For registered nurses, the job outlook shows a growth rate of about 9%, which is roughly on par with the average for all professions (8%). For nurse educators, the projected growth rate is even higher, about 12%. Nurse anesthetists show a job growth rate of about 13%.

The job outlook for nurse practitioners is the most promising: The BLS projects job opportunities for NPs to grow by a staggering 52% between 2020 and 2030, far outpacing the average for all professions.

A number of specific factors contribute to this growing need for nursing professionals, particularly nurse practitioners. These factors include:

Increased Demand for Preventive Care

The health care market has shifted in focus, placing greater emphasis on preventive care. As chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes become more prevalent, providers have increased the call for patients to get screened and assessed early, allowing for interventions and lifestyle changes.

Advanced practice nurses often play a central role in delivering preventive care. For example, nurse practitioners can play a big part in performing diagnostic tests, identifying early markers for chronic conditions, advising diabetic or pre-diabetic patients on how they should amend their dietary habits, and more.

An Aging Population

As of 2022, most baby boomers are 65 or older, meaning they have reached a point where chronic health concerns tend to become more frequent or more serious. As this sizable demographic ages and its care needs increase, the demand for qualified medical professionals continues to grow.

Again, nursing professionals, and especially nurse practitioners, can play a major role in meeting this need, providing care for patients as they manage the pain from arthritis, adapt a healthy lifestyle to keep their diabetes controlled, and provide regular screenings and vital sign checks for patients who have exhibited warning signs of heart diseases.

Physician Shortage

The Association of American Medical Colleges is just one of several professional organizations warning that in the face of increasing patient care needs, the pool of qualified physicians is shrinking. In particular, many rural and underserved communities do not have access to the number of physicians they need. This physician shortage is another important area in which nurses can play a role in covering care gaps.

The physician shortage is a major contributor to the rising rate of nursing job growth, as advanced practice nurses can diagnose both acute and chronic conditions, and in many states, NPs are allowed to prescribe medications.

Nursing Salaries

Before embarking on a specific career path, aspiring nurses may like to know the salary expectations for the most common nursing roles.

Family Nurse Practitioners

Family nurse practitioners deliver primary care to patients of all ages, including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and education for both acute and chronic conditions. The median annual salary for family nurse practitioners is about $97,800, according to March 2022 data from PayScale.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

Advanced practice nurses in this role specialize in addressing conditions related to age, making them invaluable for administering care to baby boomers. The median annual salary for these NPs is about 96,000, according to March 2022 data from PayScale.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners provide diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing case management for patients suffering from mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and trauma. These professionals may also work with patients who have addiction issues. The median annual salary for this role is around $112,500, according to March 2022 data from PayScale.

Nurse Educators

Nurse educators provide professional development opportunities to other nurses and can play a significant role in elevating the efficacy of the nursing profession overall. The 2020 BLS entry for postsecondary teachers shows a median annual salary of about $80,500.

An advanced nursing degree can equip nurses with the skills required for any of these roles, making MSN graduates more competitive in the job market.

Advance Your Nursing Career With an MSN

The growing demand for health care services is creating a widespread need for well-educated, highly skilled nurses. Nursing job growth rates are expected to be strong this decade, and an advanced degree, such as Hawai‘i Pacific University’s online Master of Science in Nursing, can help job seekers advance their careers and qualify for many different roles. Find out more about how pursuing an MSN can open doors for remarkable opportunity.

Recommended Reading:

The Importance of a Nurse’s Role in Patient Safety

What Is Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?

Trauma Nursing in Vacation Cities


Association of American Medical Colleges, "U.S. Physician Shortage Growing"

Health Resources and Services Administration, Shortage Areas

The Hill, "Nurse Practitioners Are the Solution to Health Care Provider Shortages"

PayScale, Average Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salary

PayScale, Average Family Nurse Practitioner Salary

PayScale, Average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careers for Nurses: Opportunities and Options

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Teachers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses