Registered nurse topped U.S. News and World Report's Best Jobs of 2012 list, which ranks career paths in the United States based on employment projections, salary data, and job satisfaction.
According to U.S. News, nursing offers strong growth in employment and considerable opportunities. Specifically:
- In 2010, the median RN salary in the United States was $64,690.
- The top 10% of RN wage earners—who often worked as personal care nurses or for pharmaceutical or medical device companies—made about $95,130.
- The highest-paid RN positions were in northern California metropolitan areas, including San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently estimated that the RN workforce—which currently includes 2.7 million nurses—will grow by 26% between 2010 and 2020, creating 711,900 new jobs.
According to U.S. News, which also considered job satisfaction data from job review website Glassdoor, the RN position can by physically and emotionally demanding, but "the variety of career options open to nurses today make tailoring your work life to your own desired schedule much easier."
Five health care professions make top 10 careers list
In addition to RN, four health care professions—pharmacist (#3), medical assistant (#4), physical therapist (#8), and occupational therapist (#10)—made U.S. News' top 10 careers list for 2012.
The health care sector "has become the [nation's] core industry," according to the CEO of outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, who stressed factors like the aging population and federal expansion of health coverage.
Top health care jobs of 2012
Altogether, U.S. News noted that health care and social services will post 5.6 million new jobs by 2020. According to the magazine, the best health care jobs of 2012 are:
1. Registered nurse;
3. Medical assistant;
4. Physical therapist;
5. Occupational therapist;
6. Clinical laboratory technician;
7. Paramedic; and
8. Massage therapist (Shinkle, U.S. News, 2/27; Graves , U.S. News, 2/27; Graves , U.S. News, 2/27; Nurse.com, 2/28).