February 14, 2022  |  Purdue Global

For centuries, nursing had been considered a role for women, and today, the occupation is still largely filled by females. But things are changing.

More men are joining the field and finding it to be a rewarding and lucrative career. According to a NurseJournal report, the number of men in nursing increased from 27,257 in 1977 to 314,195 in 2018—a 1,052% increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2020, 12.6% of registered nurses (RNs) were men. In a working paper series sponsored by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, professors Elizabeth Munnich and Abigail Wozniak indicate that men have gone from "rarities in the nursing field to having a significant, if minority, presence."

If you’re a man who’s considering a career in nursing, you’ll find stable job growth and opportunity. According to the BLS, health care occupations are among the fastest-growing jobs, with RN listed as one of the top 6 occupations expected to add the most new jobs through 2030.*

What’s behind such growth? This article examines the factors that are drawing more men to the field, including the national nursing shortage, significant career opportunities, and focused recruitment efforts to bring more men to nursing.

National Nursing Shortage

There are a number of reasons why nurses are in such demand, including:

  • Baby boomers are living longer, and an aging population drives a need for more health care services.
  • The number of people developing and/or living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, is dramatically increasing.
  • A large portion of the nursing workforce is approaching retirement age. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 1 million RNs will reach retirement age by 2030.
  • A shortage of nursing school faculty is causing nursing schools to turn away large numbers of qualified applicants, according to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report.

The BLS projects employment of registered nurses will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2020 to 2030, adding about 276,800 new jobs. Employment for nurse practitioners is projected to grow 52% in the same time period, making it the fourth fastest-growing occupation.*

Career Opportunities in Nursing

Nursing offers diverse opportunities as far as where you can work and areas of specialization. With a nursing degree, you could pursue opportunities in community education and public health, nursing management and leadership, health care administration, and care coordination.

Nurses are needed in hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, correctional facilities, and hospice care facilities, and for in-home care and flight transports.

Most fellow Americans trust nurses’ judgment and appreciate their care. According to a 2020 Gallup report, Americans ranked nurses at an all-time high of 89% among top professions for having ethical standards and honesty. That’s a 4% jump over the 2019 ranking.

And no matter your specialty, as a nurse you’ll be among good (and satisfied) company. According to a 2019 survey by AMN Healthcare, 81% of nurses are satisfied with their career choice.

Support Systems for Men in Nursing

The idea of pursuing a career in nursing as a man can be exciting for some and daunting for others. Luckily, several organizations exist to help attract male nurses to the field and support their professional growth.

One of the most prominent organizations is the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN), which has a goal to increase male enrollment in nursing programs throughout the United States and the world. As part of this recruiting initiative, the association makes posters featuring male nurses who have combined their interests and hobbies with their nursing jobs. These real-life stories of male nurses who “Do what they love and loving what they do” are meant to encourage people like you to find your niche in the nursing field.

AAMN also offers nursing resources for males, including mentor programs and a list of schools and colleges that have been recognized for their efforts in offering excellent nursing programs for men.

Requirements to Become a Nurse

To become a nurse, you must earn a nursing degree, such as an associate’s degree in nursing (ASN), and pass the national licensing examination that gives you RN status. This can include 2 to 4 years of classroom study and hands-on, clinical experience. While the ASN can help you qualify to take the exam that allows you to be an RN, many students start with their ASN and then return to school through an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-to-BSN) program.

From there, you can earn a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) to pursue advanced practice roles such as a nurse practitioner. With a master’s degree, you may also wish to become a nursing administrator or educator.

Lastly, if you choose to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), there are two types: research-focused programs and practice-focused programs. While both are designed to produce clinical experts who are leaders in their areas of expertise, your preference of research methodology or evidence-based application will determine your choice in program.

Get Started With Purdue Global

More men are entering nursing and finding it to be a wonderful career with a wide array of specialties and opportunities. If you want to get started on pursuing a nursing career or further your education in nursing, Purdue Global’s School of Nursing can help. Your path to success begins here. Request more information today.

Infographic Content

Men in Nursing Fast Facts

Considering a career in nursing? The job outlook for RNs is better than many fields, and nursing is increasingly attracting more men.

The number of men in nursing in 1977: 27,2571

The number of men in nursing in 2018: 314,195

That’s a growth rate of: 1,052%

Job opportunities are growing2:

Employer Percentage of Hires
Number of RNs (men and women) in the U.S., 2020 3,080,100
Male RNs in the U.S., 2020 410,256 (12.6%)3
Job Growth Outlook, 2020–2030 9% (as fast as average)
New Jobs Added, 2020–2030 276,800

Year Number of Nurses Female % of Total Male % of Total
1977 1,417,665 1,390,004 98.05% 27,254 1.92%
1988 2,049,213 1,972,672 96.26% 68,249 3.33%
2008 3,063,163 2,848,800 92.98% 214,421 7%
2018 3,272,872 2,912,000 88.97% 314,195 9.6%

Source: NurseJournal.org

A Trusted Profession

  • Americans ranked nurses in 2020 at an all-time high of 89% among top professions for having high ethical standards and honesty.
  • That’s a 4% jump over the 2019 ranking. Nurses have ranked high among the top professions for those qualities for two decades.5

A Satisfying Career

  • 93% of registered nurses report being satisfied with their career choice.6
  • 77% reported feeling energized by their work.6

Get Started With Purdue Global

More men are entering the nursing field in a wide array of specialties and opportunities. If you’re interested in a nursing career or furthering your nursing education, Purdue Global’s School of Nursing can get you on the path to success.

Filed in: Nursing

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Your Path to Success Begins Here

Learn more about online programs at Purdue Global and download our program guide.

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Purdue Global does not guarantee employment or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.