Despite a job growth rate that topped 7% in the mid-2000s, registered nurse was still a high priority occupation in Pennsylvania in 2010, according to the state’s Workforce Development agency.
That is likely to remain true for the immediate future.
RN is one of the top 25 occupations in terms of vacancies statewide, with more than 4,400 openings estimated annually through 2018, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. That “significant growth” is projected to take total RN employment above 157,000 by 2018.
At the national level, the employment rate for RNs will likely jump 26% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing cites several factors in this continuing shortage: the nation’s aging population will require more medical care; federal legislation is expected to provide millions of additional Americans with healthcare coverage; a wave of RNs are set to reach retirement age in the coming decade or so; and nursing school enrollment isn’t keeping pace with job growth.
Not only will U.S. employers be seeking more registered nurses, it’s likely they will be looking for RNs with higher educational qualifications.
The Institute of Medicine has called for the proportion of nurses with bachelor’s degrees to increase to 80% nationally by 2020. The national institute’s 2011 report pointed to RN to BSN degree programs and online learning as among the ways to meet that goal.
A 2006 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health found that just 31% of RNs statewide had a bachelor’s in nursing degree.
Advanced educational qualifications often bring financial benefits.
In 2011, the average salary for RNs in the Keystone State was $66,592, according to a survey by Advance for Nurses. Nurses with a BSN earned an average of $4,600 more in Pennsylvania than those with an associate’s degree.
The median annual wage of registered nurses in the United States was $64,690 in 2010, according to the BLS.
In order to become a licensed RN in Pennsylvania applicants must have completed a nursing program approved by the state Board of Nursing and must also have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
RNs who have an active and current license in another U.S. state can apply for licensure by endorsement in Pennsylvania. Applicants must have completed an approved RN program and passed the NCLEX-RN or the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE).
RNs in Pennsylvania must renew their license every two years, during which time they must complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) courses offered by a provider approved by the state Board of Nursing. Although advanced life support courses such as Advanced Trauma Life Support can be applied toward the requirement, they can be used just once during each license renewal period.
It’s important to note that nursing licensure requirements and fees can change. For the most up-to-date information contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing at:
Mailing address:P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649