Americans' ever-increasing consumption of medical services in recent decades has led to a seemingly insatiable demand for professionals within the health-care sector. Recent employment numbers show that the industry gained 315,000 jobs last year, including nursing and related fields.
Demand for nursing and psychiatric aides is expected grow by 18 percent in the 10 years ending in 2018, according to forecasts by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the need for registered nurses, who are required to have more education, is anticipated to rise by 22 percent.
The need for a greater number of nurses has resulted in strong growth in nursing programs across the country.
In downstate Illinois, for example, Rend Lake College is expanding its nursing program in response to a 62-percent surge in enrollment during the past decade.
More than 100 students graduate from the college's program each year, but even more are interested, WSIL-TV reports.
"We have more applicants than what we can take in," nursing director Barb Crouse tells the southern Illinois station.
Though the earnings potential for nursing and psychiatric aides is modest -- about $10 to $14 an hour, based on BLS data, registered nurses command much more, bringing home median salaries of about $51,500 a year to more than $76,000 a year.
Further, the agency notes, most nursing professions offer excellent career opportunities. Within the health-care sector, registered nurses make up the single largest occupation, with about 2.6 million jobs, the BLS says. About 60 percent of registered nurses work in hospitals, but many also work in offices, schools and other settings.
For more on the future of nursing, check out the infographic below from Rasmussen College, a private career college.
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