Career Resources

10 Great Reasons to Become a Nurse in 2024

Demand for nurses is projected to grow by 6% by 2032, but we know that pursuing a healthcare career is more of a personal choice than simply workforce supply and demand. Aspiring and current healthcare professionals are looking for meaningful work, good pay, job security and variety, among other characteristics of a typical healthcare career path. These days, people also consider a career track that can keep up with the rising cost of living and offer a solid return on investment for higher education. 

For recent high school graduates, undeclared college students or those considering a career change,  Vivian Health assembled our top 10 reasons to become a nurse in 2024 to help you make an informed decision about a potential career in healthcare. 

Unique Blend of Benefits to a Nursing Career

Nursing offers a unique blend of attractive benefits that draw individuals to the profession. For example, full-time salaries for registered nurses (RNs) are well above the national average, especially for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and RNs in healthcare management. 

The career also offers excellent, recession-proof job security in a wide variety of work settings and specialties. Whether you want to work in a rural, suburban or urban setting; a small or large facility; for a public-sector or private-sector employer; or with youth, adults, older individuals or people of all ages, there’s a job in nursing that fits the bill. 

Perhaps most importantly, nursing is a highly rewarding field in which you can make a difference in patients’ lives every day. That impact translates into great public admiration for nursing as a profession. 

Although Americans’ trust in various social institutions has eroded in recent years, respect for nurses remains incredibly high, according to a long string of annual Gallup polls. The public believes that nurses have high honesty and ethical standards, and research demonstrates nurses have a marked positive effect on patient outcomes. The public’s view of nurses got another boost when these healthcare professionals sprung into action during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it remains high several years later.

Top 10 Reasons to Become a Nurse in 2024

Two nurses with patient

If you’re considering a career in nursing in 2024, Vivian shares our top 10 reasons (plus one bonus reason) for doing so.

1. High and Persistent Demand for Nurses 

According to federal data, over 3.1 million nurses are already in the U.S. workforce, but this field continues to grow faster than average. For registered nurses (RNs), the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 6% growth in demand from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. The nation’s aging population and shortage of nurses following a wave of nurse retirements in recent years have helped set this career up for strong demand. Certain states and regions have more pronounced nurse shortages than others. 

2. The Reward of Helping Others

The altruistic nature of nursing is central to its ethos. Individuals who go into nursing are often driven by a compassionate desire to care for others. The nursing profession provides ample opportunity to fulfill this core motivation. Nurses play a pivotal role in patients’ health journeys, attending to their physical needs and providing emotional support, advocacy and education. They provide essential care during critical moments from birth to end-of-life care, often forming deep bonds with patients and their families. The capacity to impact health and wellness directly adds a sense of purpose and satisfaction unparalleled in many other professions. 

3. Career Advancement Opportunities

Starting from entry-level positions, nurses can elevate their careers and pay by pursuing specializations in pediatrics, cardiovascular care, surgery, post-surgical care and other nursing specialties. Further advancement is possible through additional education, such as obtaining a Master’s or Doctorate in Nursing, leading to advanced practice roles like a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist or roles away from the bedside like a Nurse Educator. Leadership roles such as Nurse Manager or Director of Nursing are accessible through experience and management training, often without an additional degree. Nurses can also move into non-clinical arenas, including research, healthcare administration or policy-making, significantly broadening their impact on the healthcare system. 

4. Competitive Salaries

According to a comparison with Federal Reserve data, nurses typically earn salaries well above the national average for full-time workers. For instance, full-time nurses earned an average of $94,348 across all RN jobs posted on Vivian as of April 16, 2024. This pay is substantially higher than the national average wage of $59,430 reported for full-time employees during the third quarter of 2023. 

However, nurse wages differ by region and are often higher in the Northeast and West Coast, per Vivian’s salary data. Nurses in major metropolitan markets also typically earn above-average salaries, though they usually face a higher cost of living.

Salaries vary based on a nurse’s specialty, with certain high-skill or high-stress specialties commanding a pay premium. Meanwhile, advanced practice RNs, such as nurse practitioners trained and licensed to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications, earn around $149,000 per year, based on jobs posted to Vivian. The highest-paying APRN specialties earned as much as $230,000 annually in early 2024. 

5. Use of Emerging Technology

Personalized healthcare through technology

As a critical sector of the overall economy, healthcare often finds itself at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, and nurses are the vanguard of its use in healthcare facilities. Nurses today often help implement telemedicine platforms, educate patients about wearable tech or even help with trials using augmented reality and virtual reality in healthcare. Even artificial intelligence applications are becoming partners to nurses working on the unit floor as more healthcare facilities deploy virtual healthcare assistants. Those interested in high-tech careers will undoubtedly find much to love in nursing.

6. Excellent Benefits

With nurses in high demand, full-time nurses typically find that employers offer excellent, comprehensive benefits packages as they compete to fill staff positions. These benefits generally include health insurance, retirement plans and even tuition reimbursement. Many health systems have also become aware of the desire for more flexibility in recent years and have increased options for vacation, personal leave and flexible scheduling for nurses. 

7. Making a Difference

According to a study in the Nursing Open journal, nurses are the backbone of healthcare and significantly influence patient satisfaction. Research has demonstrated that their vigilant care and detailed patient assessments often lead to improvements in patient outcomes. Nurses’ empathetic communication fosters trust and comfort, enhancing patient experiences. By providing disease management and prevention education, they empower patients to take charge of their health and help reduce readmissions. 

Nurses extend their impact beyond clinical settings, engaging in public health initiatives that improve community wellness, often providing care to underserved populations. Their advocacy for patient needs and community health education is vital in promoting healthier populations and shaping public health policies. 

8. Job Security

Nurses enjoy robust job security due to the enduring demand for healthcare services. With an aging population and a growing focus on preventive care, the need for nursing professionals remains high across various settings, including hospitals, clinics and home care. The versatility of nursing skills also means that nurses can transition across different specialties and healthcare roles as needed, reinforcing their employment stability. Because healthcare is a critical sector, nursing jobs are less susceptible to economic downturns when compared to many other professions, making nursing a stable career path. 

9. Variety and Flexibility

Nursing is a field rich with diversity, offering career paths spanning a range of medical specialties, from emergency care to pediatrics. Nurses can work in various environments, including hospitals, private practices, schools and military facilities. Roles range from direct patient care to administrative and leadership to education positions. 

The profession’s inherent flexibility allows for different work schedules, including traditional “9-to-5” shifts, overnight work, part-time work or non-traditional hours, catering to those who value work-life balance or may have other duties, including child or elder care. This adaptability makes nursing a career that you can tailor to individual lifestyle needs and professional ambitions.

10. Continual Learning and Development

Nurses embody lifelong learning by continually updating their skills and knowledge. They partake in continuing education to stay abreast of the latest medical findings, treatment methods and public health issues. Certification programs allow them to specialize and refine their expertise. Moreover, nurses are on the frontline of integrating new healthcare technologies, mastering electronic health records, telemedicine and cutting-edge medical devices. They adapt to evolving best practices and guidelines, ensuring the highest standard of patient care. 

RELATED: Top 5 Game-Changing Trends Impacting Healthcare Professionals in 2024

BONUS: The Benefits of Travel Nursing

Travel nurse career perks

A unique opportunity for nurses not available to many other professionals is getting paid to travel to new locations temporarily for work. Experienced nurses can work 13-week stints as travel nurses nearly anywhere in the nation. Travel nursing provides an exciting opportunity to earn above-average pay while exploring other parts of the country. Travel nurse jobs often command a pay premium, averaging $2,109 weekly, based on Vivian Health’s salary data in late April 2024. Some nurses may dedicate a chapter of their careers to travel nursing, stringing together back-to-back positions as they crisscross the country, and some even make an entire career out of it.

Next Steps If You’re Considering a Role in Nursing

Our top 10 reasons to consider a career in nursing should make it evident that the profession offers a unique blend of income, personal satisfaction, professional growth and societal impact. Nursing isn’t just a job but a lifelong vocation that offers unparalleled rewards and opportunities. 

At Vivian, we know nursing. Over 1.9 million nurses and allied healthcare professionals have registered on our site to search for jobs within their career tracks. To explore nursing or various allied health professions and learn about available locations and employment, check out Vivian’s jobs marketplace

If you’re already pursuing certification or licensure to work in healthcare or considering switching careers within healthcare, register with Vivian to apply for new opportunities today.

Michael Hines

Michael Hines is a freelance researcher and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. For 20 years, he's written on various healthcare topics, including healthcare employment, telemedicine, healthcare legislation, obesity, immunotherapy and genomics. He also writes about technology and AI, public policy, finance and investing, consumer products and corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

Comment (1)

Nurses are highly underpaid!! A recent study showed that for a “single” individual to be in the middle class in America, it takes $123k per year. Why would any healthcare worker, with at least an RN degree, be happy with 80-90K per year? In some states, even with over 20 years of experience, the healthcare facilities “top you out” in the low $40/hr range. That is $83k per year, give or take a few hundred dollars based on full-time hours. Healthcare workers, especially RN, Respiratory Therapist, etc., are the backbone to every healthcare facility. Without us, the hospital/healthcare facility does NOT function!!! The CEOs are paid millions!!! Why are Nurses’ salaries not better than $100K per year? In 2020-2022, healthcare workers were deemed “heroes,” which I never thought that. I was doing my job!! No raises were given after the pandemic. The CEOs and administration continued to get hefty bonuses. I just do not understand how this still occurs.


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