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10 Countries With the Highest Demand for Nurses: See Where You’re Needed The Most

Countries With the Highest Demand for Nurses

The global nursing shortage is a major concern facing healthcare systems worldwide. With an aging population and increasing rates of chronic illness, the demand for qualified nurses exceeds the supply in many countries. For nurses, this creates opportunities to launch or advance an international career in locations with the greatest need.

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Understanding where nurse shortages are most acute can help you identify places to consider for finding abundant nursing jobs abroad. We’ve researched and analyzed data to highlight 10 countries with the highest demand for nurses currently based on vacancy rates, aging demographics, and healthcare sector growth.

1. United States

As the world’s largest healthcare market, the United States has a massive and growing need for trained nurses. The American Nurses Association projects the U.S. will require 1.3 million new registered nurses by 2024 to avoid a nursing shortage as Baby Boomers age and more Americans gain health insurance coverage. All 50 states are expected to experience a lack of nurses to varying degrees.

Several factors drive the high demand in America. The population is getting older and living longer with multiple chronic conditions requiring care. Medicare reimbursement cuts have led hospitals to implement staffing ratios to control costs. Plus, many current nurses are nearing retirement age themselves.

U.S. metropolitan areas projected to have the greatest ratio of job openings compared to nurses include Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Seattle, and Tampa. Large cities tend to offer higher salaries to attract talent. For example, the median salary for registered nurses in San Francisco exceeds $140,000 annually.

Nurses educated abroad can qualify to work in America by passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining a state nursing license. Having experience in specialty areas like critical care, oncology, or geriatrics can make you an attractive candidate for U.S. healthcare employers.

2. Australia

Australia’s rapidly aging population and universal healthcare system make it one of the most advantageous countries for nurse employment abroad today. By 2030, over one-fifth of Australia’s population will be aged 65 and older. But its nursing workforce is aging too.

Projections estimate a shortage of 85,000 nurses in Australia by 2025, and over 123,000 open nursing positions by 2030. Government initiatives have attempted to boost enrollments in nursing schools. However, nearly half of Australia’s nurses are expected to retire within the next 10-15 years.

Regional and rural areas have the toughest time recruiting nurses. Consequently, Australian healthcare providers offer lucrative compensation packages, flexible scheduling, and other benefits to attract nurses.

Registered nurses in Australia can earn an average salary between $73,000-$112,000 AUD ($50,000-$77,000 USD) per year. The most in-demand specialties include emergency, critical care, mental health, aged care, and operating room nurses.

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3. United Kingdom

Like Australia, the U.K.’s National Health Service also faces nurse staffing challenges exacerbated by an aging population of both patients and nurses. England alone is short over 36,000 nurses. Projections suggest the U.K. will need an additional 190,000 nurses by 2027.

The COVID-19 pandemic also led many British nurses to leave the profession due to burnout and stressful working conditions, further shrinking an already constrained workforce. Short-staffing has become a crisis, with one in ten nursing posts in the NHS currently vacant.

Areas facing the most acute nursing shortages in the U.K. are London, the Midlands, Yorkshire, the South West, South East, and the East of England. Specialties in highest demand include emergency, critical care, neonatal, pediatric, mental health, community health, and general practice nurses.

The average registered nurse salary in the United Kingdom ranges between £24,000-£40,000 ($29,000-$48,000 USD) per year. Nurses who obtain British citizenship or residency permits can find abundant job opportunities through the NHS.

4. Canada

Canada needs to hire over 199,000 additional nurses by 2030 to meet healthcare system demands. Like other countries, Canada faces nurse retirement and attrition challenges. Nearly one in three nurses are expected to leave the profession over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Canada has an aging population with growing rates of chronic illness that require expanded nursing care. Openings exist across the country, but certain provinces are projected to need more nurses. Ontario alone must find 77,000 more nurses this decade.

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Canadian nurses earn competitive salaries of about $70,000 CAD ($52,000 USD) for registered nurses and $95,000 CAD ($71,000 USD) for nurse practitioners. Benefits often include pensions, paid vacation and sick days, health insurance, and tuition reimbursement.

Internationally educated nurses can relocate to Canada by passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining provincial licensure. Demand is highest for nurses skilled in areas like cardiology, nephrology, oncology, pediatrics, geriatrics, and intensive care.

5. Germany

Germany expects a massive wave of nurse retirements within the next 10 years. Approximately 500,000 of the nation’s nurses (about 40% of its nurse workforce) will reach retirement age by 2029. Finding replacements will present an epic challenge.

Beyond retirements, Germany’s population is the second oldest in the world. More than a quarter of Germans will be over age 65 by 2030. With such a sizable aging population, demand for quality nursing care will continue rising considerably.

Language skills can make foreign nurses more competitive for nursing jobs in Germany. However, positions in larger cities increasingly request only basic German fluency. Some recruiters even assist foreign nurses with taking integration courses upon arrival.

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Registered nurses in Germany earn approximately €40,000-€50,000 ($43,000-$54,000 USD) or more annually. The most sought-after specializations include geriatrics, ICU/critical care, cardiology, oncology, nephrology, and operating room nurses.

6. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia currently suffers from one of the most extreme nursing shortages in the world. With a youthful population and growing healthcare needs, only around 57% of nursing positions in the Kingdom are presently filled. The Saudi government aims to create over 106,000 new nursing jobs by 2030.

Rapid healthcare sector expansion contributes to the unprecedented demand. Saudi Arabia plans to construct hundreds of new hospitals, clinics, and medical research centers under its Vision 2030 initiative. Attracting qualified international nurses is crucial to staffing these new facilities.

Most appealing to foreign nurses are the tax-free salaries and furnished housing allowances in Saudi Arabia. Senior nurses can earn $70,000-$100,000+ USD annually. Generous vacation time and travel benefits are also typical.

Saudi Arabia actively recruits nurses from countries like India, Philippines, and South Africa to address shortages. Expat nurses must obtain licensing through the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties to practice.

7. Singapore

Singapore’s Ministry of Health estimates a shortage of 65,000 healthcare workers by 2030, with nurses among the most severely impacted. One-third of nurses in Singapore are expected to retire within that timeframe.

Rising rates of chronic disease among Singapore’s aging population, as well as expanded medical services, contribute to the growing nurse staffing needs. Openings span both public healthcare institutions and private hospitals.

The average registered nurse earns about S$55,000 SGD (US$40,000) per year, with higher salaries for nurse managers and advanced practice nurses. Benefits often include bonuses, healthcare coverage, paid time off, and retirement funds.

English is Singapore’s primary language, which makes assimilation relatively easy for nurses relocating from certain countries. Getting licensed as a foreign nurse requires passing local exams and registering with the Singapore Nursing Board.

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8. New Zealand

New Zealand is actively seeking over 12,000 additional nurses by 2027 to bridge the gap caused by attrition and the burgeoning healthcare demands. Opportunities span across the country, encompassing community health, hospital settings, aged care facilities, and various specialty providers. Nurses considering New Zealand can anticipate competitive salaries and a diverse range of roles.

In terms of salary, registered nurses in New Zealand typically earn between $37,000 to $56,000 annually, depending on experience and location. The country offers an attractive lifestyle with its stunning landscapes and a vibrant culture.

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The healthcare system in New Zealand prioritizes quality care, making it an appealing destination for nurses globally. With a focus on enhancing healthcare services, the country is eager to welcome skilled and passionate nurses willing to contribute to its healthcare sector’s growth.

9. Denmark

Denmark foresees an intensification of nurse staffing shortages due to its aging population. Approximately one-third of Danish nurses are approaching retirement age, significantly impacting the available workforce. International nurses with strong English skills have ample opportunities to care for Denmark’s aging citizens.

Nurses contemplating a move to Denmark can expect competitive salaries, averaging around $58,000 to $80,000 per year for registered nurses. The country offers a high quality of life, a strong emphasis on work-life balance, and a supportive healthcare environment.

The Danish healthcare system emphasizes patient-centered care and innovation, providing a conducive environment for nurses to contribute their expertise. As Denmark grapples with the challenges posed by an aging demographic, it actively seeks skilled nurses to meet the evolving healthcare demands.

10. Ireland

Ireland, much like other countries, faces a growing demand for nursing professionals. The country’s healthcare sector requires additional nurses to cater to its healthcare needs, offering opportunities across diverse settings, including hospitals, community healthcare, and specialized roles.

Salaries for registered nurses in Ireland typically range from $32,000 to $56,000 annually. Despite the competitive professional landscape, Ireland offers an enriching cultural experience and a welcoming atmosphere for international nurses.

The Irish healthcare system prioritizes continuous improvement and places value on nursing professionals’ contributions. With a focus on holistic patient care and an evolving healthcare landscape, Ireland beckons skilled nurses to contribute their expertise to meet the country’s healthcare demands.

Conclusion

The worldwide nursing shortage creates abundant opportunities for qualified nurses to relocate abroad, especially in countries with large populations of aging citizens. By targeting places with the greatest worker demand, you can take advantage of higher salaries, signing bonuses, and other benefits offered to attract talent.

Focus your overseas nurse job search on nations actively recruiting foreign nurses to fill vacancies across both public and private medical facilities. Taking the time to obtain necessary credentials and meet language requirements will boost your competitiveness within high demand markets.

Relocating internationally as a nurse requires a commitment of time and effort. But expanding your career options globally allows you to align your skills with countries that need them most. While rewarding, working abroad also enriches your worldview, bolsters cultural agility, and enhances personal development as a nursing professional.