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Registered Nurses
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Description: what do they do?
Assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. May advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required.
Also known as:
Oncology RN (Oncology Registered Nurse), Registered Nurse (RN), Staff RN (Staff Registered Nurse), Operating Room Registered Nurse (OR RN), School Nurse, Emergency Department RN (Emergency Department Registered Nurse), Public Health Nurse (PHN), Staff Nurse, Director of Nursing (DON), Charge Nurse

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center.

Career video
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    Transcript: Registered nurses, or RNs, are the largest healthcare occupation for good reason; they give patients medical care, educate them about their health issues, and offer emotional support. These medical professionals observe and record their patients’ condition. They help perform diagnostic tests to make effective plans for patient care. Before patients head home from a treatment or procedure, RNs explain how to manage the illness or injury. A core part of medical teams, they consult with doctors and other health care professionals and may oversee the work of other nurses and assistants. Registered nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, home health care services, and nursing homes. Some work in correctional facilities or schools, or serve in the military. Nurses may also have the opportunity to travel, as they are needed across the U.S. and around the world. Risks—such as back injuries from lifting patients or exposure to infectious diseases and chemicals—are part of the job. They may work nights, weekends, and holidays, and be on call in off-hours. There are three paths to become an RN: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. They must also be licensed. Some nurses earn a master’s or doctoral-level degree and work in management, research, or academic settings. Combining competence with compassion, nursing is a career that improves —and even saves— many lives.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average
  • Projected to have a large number of job openings


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
California
256,000
2014 Employment
300,300
2024 Employment
17%
Percent change
10,470
Annual projected job openings
United States
2,751,000
2014 Employment
3,190,300
2024 Employment
16%
Percent change
108,840
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2014, the number expected to be employed in 2024, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions including a 5.2 percent unemployment rate in 2024 and labor productivity growth of 1.8 percent annually over the 10 years. While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central: Long Term Projections, through 2024.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Employment Projections: 2014–24.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Registered Nurses in California
LocationCaliforniaUnited States
10%$63,450$47,120
25%$78,810$56,190
Median$100,460$68,450
75%$124,620$83,770
90%$149,440$102,990


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2016 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Maintain medical facility records.
  • Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
  • Administer non-intravenous medications.
  • Record patient medical histories.
  • Inform medical professionals regarding patient conditions and care.
  • Administer anesthetics or sedatives to control pain.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
  • Evaluate patient outcomes to determine effectiveness of treatments.
  • Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Immunize patients.
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
  • Supervise patient care personnel.
  • Prepare patients physically for medical procedures.
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during examinations or treatments.
  • Test biological specimens to gather information about patient conditions.
  • Design public or employee health programs.
  • Communicate health and wellness information to the public.
  • Assess patient work, living, or social environments.
  • Advise medical personnel regarding healthcare issues.
  • Direct healthcare delivery programs.
  • Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
  • Prescribe assistive medical devices or related treatments.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment.
  • Order medical diagnostic or clinical tests.
  • Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
  • Diagnose medical conditions.
  • Treat medical emergencies.
  • Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
  • Manage healthcare operations.
  • Maintain inventory of medical supplies or equipment.
  • Train caregivers or other non-medical personnel.
  • Refer patients to other healthcare practitioners or health resources.
  • Advise communities or institutions regarding health or safety issues.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Maintain accurate, detailed reports and records.
  • Administer medications to patients and monitor patients for reactions or side effects.
  • Record patients' medical information and vital signs.
  • Monitor, record, and report symptoms or changes in patients' conditions.
  • Inform physician of patient's condition during anesthesia.
  • Administer local, inhalation, intravenous, or other anesthetics.
  • Consult and coordinate with healthcare team members to assess, plan, implement, or evaluate patient care plans.
  • Modify patient treatment plans as indicated by patients' responses and conditions.
  • Provide health care, first aid, immunizations, or assistance in convalescence or rehabilitation in locations such as schools, hospitals, or industry.
  • Hand items to surgeons during operations.
  • Direct or supervise less-skilled nursing or healthcare personnel or supervise a particular unit.
  • Prepare patients for and assist with examinations or treatments.
  • Conduct specified laboratory tests.
  • Instruct individuals, families, or other groups on topics such as health education, disease prevention, or childbirth and develop health improvement programs.
  • Assess the needs of individuals, families, or communities, including assessment of individuals' home or work environments, to identify potential health or safety problems.
  • Direct or coordinate infection control programs, advising or consulting with specified personnel about necessary precautions.
  • Engage in research activities related to nursing.
  • Prescribe or recommend drugs, medical devices, or other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, inhalation therapy, or related therapeutic procedures.
  • Order, interpret, and evaluate diagnostic tests to identify and assess patient's condition.
  • Perform physical examinations, make tentative diagnoses, and treat patients en route to hospitals or at disaster site triage centers.
  • Prepare rooms, sterile instruments, equipment, or supplies and ensure that stock of supplies is maintained.
  • Perform administrative or managerial functions, such as taking responsibility for a unit's staff, budget, planning, or long-range goals.
  • Provide or arrange for training or instruction of auxiliary personnel or students.
  • Work with individuals, groups, or families to plan or implement programs designed to improve the overall health of communities.
  • Refer students or patients to specialized health resources or community agencies furnishing assistance.
  • Consult with institutions or associations regarding issues or concerns relevant to the practice and profession of nursing.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.