Top 10 States That Will Need Nurses the Most by 2030

We need more great nurses in the world, but some places need them more urgently before they hit a shortage in 2030. Check out those top 10 states here.

Nursing is facing a perfect storm of factors that, when taken all together, may leave the world short of almost 5.7 million nurses by 2030, according to forecasts by Becker's Hospital Review. In America, the driving factors behind this shortage include the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, an increased need for health care as our population gets older, a lack of qualified educators, and the COVID-19 pandemic. While every state is feeling the effects of these factors, their intensity—and the amount to which they’ll affect nursing supply—varies immensely.

NursingEducation.org used data from the Health Resources and Services Administration's Health Workforce Simulation Model, an integrated health professions projection model that estimates the current and future supply of and demand for health care providers. The 2017 model, which is the most recent available, looks at demographics of current health care providers, current and projected population numbers, and the state of the national economy and the labor market. The states below were ranked by the projected surplus of registered nurses in 2030, which is the percent change between the projected supply of RNs and the projected demand. A positive percentage means there's a projected surplus of nurses in 2030, and a negative percentage means there's a projected shortage of nurses. Any ties are broken by the projected surplus of licensed practical nurses in 2030. Read on to see the top 10 states that will need nurses the most by the year 2030 and what they are doing to help amend the crisis, from improving the student-to-professional pipeline to providing monetary incentives.

10. Massachusetts

One factor that acts as a deterrent for those considering entering the nursing field is pay. Some states, like South Dakota and Montana, are known for their low mean wages. But this isn’t the case in Massachusetts, where the mean salary for an RN is $89,000 and the mean salary for a nurse practitioner is $120,000. The above-average pay is certainly an incentive for nurses looking to put down roots.

  • Projected surplus of registered nurses in 2030: 2.2%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 89,300
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 91,300
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 17.9%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 20,100
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 16,500

9. Montana

One commonly cited obstacle for individuals considering a Nursing degree is money: a four-year BSN program often doesn’t come cheap. In Montana, licensed nurses working in state prisons or hospitals can apply for a loan reimbursement program called the Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program, which helps offset these costs in exchange for working locally after graduation. The program has contributed to the surplus of RNs in the state, and a similar program for LPNs could go a long way in offsetting the shortage.

  • Projected surplus of registered nurses in 2030: 1.7%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 12,100
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 12,300
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 17.6%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 3,400
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 2,800

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Majors 

8. Arizona

proposed bill in Arizona, HB 2633, would create an 18-member nursing workgroup that would be tasked with identifying gaps between nursing curriculums and the real-world skills nurses need. Once these gaps—which often lead to a lack of confidence in newly licensed nurses that can drive them away from the field—have been identified, the workgroup would aid and establish mentorship programs for these nurses in an effort to increase retention rates. If passed, the bill could go a long way in lowering the deficits in the state.

  • Projected surplus of registered nurses in 2030: 1.2%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 98,700
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 99,900
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 22.8%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 15,800
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 12,200

7. Georgia

At least three schools in Georgia—South CollegeAlbany State University, and Georgia State University—are offering new, innovative program options for prospective nurses in order to prevent the projected 2.2% shortage they’ll be facing in the next 10 years. One notable program, a partnership between the Phoebe Putney Health System and Albany State University, targets high school students, hoping to inspire them to pursue careers in health care before they even enroll in college. Current nurses can find support and education opportunities through the Georgia Nurses Association.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 2.2%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 101,000
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 98,800
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 28.9%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 36,300
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 25,800

6. Texas

Texas is yet another state facing a shortage of nurses thanks to underequipped Nursing programs that don’t have the resources necessary to accept all of their qualified applicants. In response to this issue, the UT Southwestern Medical Center partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation in late 2020 to greatly expand its online Nursing program, making it the largest public program of its type in the entire country. This single program has the potential to turn out thousands of LPNs and RNs, who could then close the gap.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 5.9%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 269,300
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 253,400
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 29.3%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 114,400
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 80,900

Related: Make a Difference by Majoring in Nursing 

5. New Jersey

One of the primary reasons for the projected nursing shortage in New Jersey is a lack of qualified educators who are able to train prospective nurses, resulting in thousands of potential students being turned away from programs each year. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative is working to fix the supply issue by investing millions of dollars in education, reshaping curricula, and helping potential educators pay for upper-level degrees. The organization and its mission could be a huge draw for nurses looking to leave the floor while remaining in the field or new nurses who may hope to teach someday.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 11.2%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 102,200
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 90,800
  • Projected surplus of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 11.3%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 27,400
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 30,500

4. California

While it’s been a known fact for years that California will be at the center of the nursing shortage crisis come 2030, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the issue. At two separate points over the last year, the state—namely the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas—has been the epicenter of the pandemic, and its 300,000 nurses have been stretched to their limits. The concern now is that many nurses, especially older ones, will retire early due to the stress and over concern for their own health and well-being, which could make the projected 11.5% shortage happen well before 2030.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 11.5%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 387,900
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 343,400
  • Projected surplus of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 3.1%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 117,400
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 121,000

3. South Dakota

In response to the projected shortage, South Dakota founded the SD Center for Nursing Workforce in 2002, which is tasked with recruiting, retaining, and educating licensed and soon-to-be-licensed nurses. Examples of recruitment tactics the state has undertaken are the South Dakota Recruitment Assistance Program (RAP), which provides $56,880 payments to nurses in return for three-year, full-time service commitments, and the South Dakota Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance Program (RHFRAP), which provides an additional $10,000 payment to nurses who meet the same requirements.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 14.0%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 13,600
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 11,700
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 12.5%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 3,200
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 2,800

Related: Colleges With Outstanding Nursing Programs

2. South Carolina

There’s at least one hospital group in South Carolina—Self Regional Healthcare—that has attempted to amend the crisis the state is facing by guaranteeing jobs before students have even begun an undergraduate program. Through their apprenticeship program, the hospital preemptively hires prospective CNA students, provides them with a scholarship to attend Piedmont Technical College, and pays them while they earn their degree. This arrangement may be especially appealing for established professionals who are looking to switch careers.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 16.6%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 62,500
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 52,100
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 36.4%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 12,900
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 8,200

1. Alaska

Due to its separation from the contingent United States, Alaska has always had a hard time attracting and retaining highly skilled, highly experienced nurses and medical professionals. The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, leaving the northern tundra desperate for licensed nurses. On the other hand, those looking to provide medical care in the state are almost guaranteed job security, which can be a major draw for those looking to begin a long career.

  • Projected shortage of registered nurses in 2030: 22.7%
  • 2030 projected demand for registered nurses: 23,800
  • 2030 projected supply of registered nurses: 18,400
  • Projected shortage of licensed practical nurses in 2030: 35.5%
  • 2030 projected demand for licensed practical nurses: 3,100
  • 2030 projected supply of licensed practical nurses: 2,000

Related: Great Health and Medicine Colleges in the West 

The nursing shortage is one of the major health care problems facing this country today. As a result of ongoing health care reform, an aging population, and the problem exacerbated by the pandemic, the need for health care grows, yet enrollment in nursing schools isn’t growing fast enough to meet the demand. If you’re up to the task, consider earning your degree in Nursing. You’ll be almost guaranteed a job (especially in one of these states), and there are major incentives that go beyond money. 

See where all the states fall in the rankings by reading the full article here, and discover great colleges to earn your Nursing degree with our featured Health and Medicine School Profiles

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