3 Cities To Start A Prosperous Nursing Career

While jobs continue to be axed in many sectors in the current economic climate, nurses around the country still have reason to be optimistic about employment opportunities. More than 2.7 million registered nurses are currently practicing in various areas of healthcare throughout the US – from maternity units, trauma centers and hospitals to schools, businesses, physicians’ offices, rehabilitation centers and various alternate care settings, including home care and public health. The field of healthcare in general, and nursing in particular, offers one of the most stable career opportunities for those interested in a rewarding and fulfilling means of livelihood.

Certainties in an Uncertain Market
Predictions about job growth in the nursing profession have led to some speculation about the changing distribution of employment opportunities within the healthcare industry. Healthcare reform, hospital regulations, and new laws being implemented have led to some uncertainties in defining areas of particular strength for nurses. One thing, however, remains undeniable – the aging baby boomers requiring healthcare and the increasing availability of coverage to individuals under the new healthcare law, assures the continued need for nurses to fill the positions at all locations serving patients. While some estimates reflect a decline in the hiring of nurses by hospitals, other areas of employment, such as physicians’ offices are on an upward curve. In either case, overall prospects for nurse-employment appear to be more positive than for many other careers, placing nursing in the number one position on the U.S. News – Best Jobs for 2012.
Metropolitan Winners – A Countdown
Given these prospects, where can newly-qualified nurses expect to begin a lucrative career? After all, population, demographics, regional and local healthcare needs and facilities vary, and so do employment opportunities. For those with experience and expertise, metropolitan areas of northern California – in and around San Francisco – offer the highest paid nursing positions in the country. Starting salaries for new registered nurses average around $28,000 to $50,000 per year nationally, or hourly wages of $16.50 – $26.00. These are averages, however, and a nurse starting in a metropolitan area such as San Jose, CA, can realistically expect to earn approximately $87,000 a year, or about $40.00/ hourly. San Francisco, CA, offers a stronger start for nurses, at about $89,000 and roughly $45.00 of hourly wage. This amounts to $46% higher than the national average. On the east coast, New York city tops the list of high-paying nurse positions at a starting salary of a whopping $91,000. A factor to bear in mind is that the cost of living in New York city is 56% higher than the national average, reducing the power of the dollar earned. The same applies to San Francisco, which is 61% higher than the average figures.
Top Salaries – Do They Mean Top Buying Power?
The answer to this question is obvious. As attractive as the wages seem, one has to consider how far they will need to stretch, and what quality of life one can expect to lead. Housing, goods and services, transportation, groceries and utilities will take a big slice out of the earnings. That being said, the prospects of growth within the nursing career may be worth the initial price. As new nurses begin to gain experience, acquire up-to-date licensure and certifications and, perhaps, add valuable specialization skills and qualifications over time, the scope for growth and opportunity in California exceeds national averages.
Fiona Walker is a nurse practitioner and guest author at BestCollegesOnline.org, a site with guides to the cheapest RN to BSN online programs.