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Occupational requirements and benefits for nurses in the United States in 2018

May 06, 2019

While they are mostly known for patient care, nurses have multiple roles in the healthcare field, including educating patients and the public about health conditions and providing advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Whether at the hospital or a private home, nurses help us feel better. In support of National Nurses Week (May 6–May 12), we take a look at some of the occupational requirements and benefits for America’s nurses. In 2018, 41.5 percent of registered nurses were required to have a bachelor’s degree, 31.1 percent were required to have a vocational associate’s degree, and 20.0 percent were required to have an associate’s degree.

Education, training, and experience requirements for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and licensed vocational nurses, 2018
Job requirement Registered nurses Licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses

High school diploma

1.9% 33.0%

Associate's degree

20.0 26.8

Associate's vocational degree

31.1 32.8

Bachelor's degree

45.1 4.3

Prior work experience required

48.2 38.8

On-the-job training

69.4 81.8

Preemployment training resulting in license

97.2 98.2

For licensed practical nurses and vocational nurses, 4.3 percent were required to have a bachelor’s degree, 32.8 percent were required to have a vocational associate’s degree, 26.8 percent were required to have an associate’s degree, and 33.3 percent were required to have only a high school diploma. In addition, 98.2 percent of licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses were required to have some preemployment training that resulted in their obtaining a license.

Nearly half (48.2 percent) of registered nurses were required to have prior work experience, while 38.8 percent of licensed practical nurses and vocational nurses had this requirement. Most (81.8 percent) licensed practical nurses and vocational nurses had on-the-job training requirements, while a smaller portion (69.4 percent) of registered nurses had this requirement.

A large proportion (88.0 percent) of registered nurses had access to medical care benefits in 2018. Among those with access, the percentage of workers who participate in the plan—also known as the “take-up rate”—was 74 percent. Dental care benefits were available to 63 percent of registered nurses, and vision care benefits were available to 37 percent. In addition, 91 percent of registered nurses had access to retirement benefits, with a take-up rate of 88 percent.

Access, participation, and take-up rate for healthcare and retirement benefits for registered nurses, March 2018
Benefit Access Participation Take-up rate

All retirement benefits

91% 80% 88%

Medical care

88 65 74

Dental care

63 48 76

Vision care

37 31 83

These data are from the Occupational Requirements Survey and National Compensation Survey — Benefits. To learn more, see Occupational Requirements in the United States — 2018 and the full set of estimates from the 2018 Occupational Requirements Survey.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Occupational requirements and benefits for nurses in the United States in 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/occupational-requirements-and-benefits-for-nurses-in-the-united-states-in-2018.htm (visited October 23, 2019).

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