National Nursing Workforce Study

About the Study

Every two years, NCSBN partners with The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers to conduct the only national-level survey specifically focused on the U.S. nursing workforce. The National Nursing Workforce Survey generates information on the supply of nurses in the country, which is critical to workforce planning, and to ensure a safe and effective health care system. Full results of the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey were published in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Nursing Regulation.

We are excited to announce that the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey is set to launch in spring 2022 with results anticipated at the beginning of 2023 in the Journal of Nursing Regulation. If you have any questions, please contact the NCSBN Research Department at research@ncsbn.org.

2020 National Nursing Workforce Study Highlights

This study represents a national, randomized survey of 157,459 Registered Nurses (RNs) and 172,045 Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPN/VNs). Data were collected between February 19, 2020, and June 30, 2020. Participants were able to submit their responses via mail or online until the survey closed. In total, 42,021 RNs (26.7%) and 39,765 LPN/VNs (23.1%) responded to the survey. A nonresponse analysis was conducted, and a weighting scheme was used in the analysis process to adjust the distribution across states, age, and gender in order to estimate population-level statistics. Selected results from the 2020 RN and LPN/VN surveys are below:

2020 National Nursing Workforce Study

Registered Nurses (RN)

Yellow=Percent 2013, Blue=Percent 2015, Green=Percent 2017, Purple=Percent 2020

  • The median age of RNs was found to be 52 years old
  • Data indicates a growing number of male RNs; 9.4% in 2020, compared to 9.1% in 2017, 8.0% in 2015 and 6.6% in the 2013 study
  • 19.2% of RN respondents self-reported as minority, which includes ‘other’ and ‘two or more races’
  • 42.0% of RNs reported a BSN as the degree that qualified them for their first US nursing license; this number was 41.7% in 2017, 39% in 2015, and 35.5% in 2013
  • Hospitals were the primary employment setting for 54.8% of RNs
  • The median pre-tax earnings for RNs increased from $63,000 in 2017, to $70,000 in 2020

Licensed Practical Nurses/Vocational Nurses (LPN/VN)

  • The median age of LPN/VNs was 53 in 2020, a year older than in 2017
  • Percentage of males in LPN/VN workforce increased from 7.8% in 2017 to 8.1% in 2020
  • LPN/VNs were more racially diverse than their RN counterparts with approximately 29% of LPN/VNs identifying as racial minorities
  • 81.5% of LPN/VNs indicated a vocational/practical certificate as their entry-level qualification for their first US nursing license
  • 27.5% LPNs/LVNs indicated that their primary nursing practice position was in a nursing home/extended care setting in 2020, down from 31.7% in 2017
  • The median pre-tax annual earnings for LPN/VNs increased from $40,000 in 2017 to $44,000 in 2020