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

The world is facing a critical shortage of nurses. This situation is largely due to two major factors: an aging population and an increasing number of people with chronic illnesses. As more and more people live longer lives, they also require more medical care. This creates a huge demand for skilled nurses to provide this care.

This shortage is a major concern for healthcare systems around the globe. However, for qualified nurses, it presents a fantastic opportunity. Many countries are actively seeking nurses to fill these gaps, and they are offering competitive salaries, signing bonuses, and other benefits to attract qualified candidates.

This article explores ten of the countries with the most pressing need for nurses. If you are a nurse considering an international career move, this information can help you identify where the greatest opportunities lie.

1. United States

The United States is the world’s largest healthcare market, and it has a massive and growing need for nurses. The American Nurses Association predicts a shortage of 1.3 million nurses by 2024. This shortage is driven by several factors, including an aging population, rising healthcare costs, and many nurses nearing retirement age.

The good news for nurses is that there are abundant job opportunities throughout the United States. Major cities tend to offer the highest salaries, with San Francisco offering registered nurses an average salary exceeding $140,000 annually.

Nurses who are educated outside of the United States can qualify to work here by passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining a state nursing license. Being experienced in specialty areas like critical care or geriatrics can make you even more attractive to potential employers.

2. Australia

Australia is another country with a rapidly aging population and a universal healthcare system. This combination creates a significant demand for nurses. The Australian government estimates a shortage of over 85,000 nurses by 2025.

Regional and rural areas of Australia tend to have the most difficulty recruiting nurses. To address this, healthcare providers in these areas offer lucrative compensation packages and flexible scheduling to attract qualified candidates.

The average salary for a registered nurse in Australia can range between $73,000 and $112,000 AUD (Australian Dollars) per year, which is between $50,000 and $77,000 USD (US Dollars). Nurses with experience in emergency care, critical care, or mental health are in especially high demand.

3. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is also facing a significant shortage of nurses. This shortage is due in part to an aging population and an aging nursing workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the problem, as many nurses left the profession due to burnout and stressful working conditions.

Currently, there is a vacancy rate of around 10% for nursing positions within the NHS. Areas with the most acute shortages include London and several regions across England.

The average salary for a registered nurse in the UK falls between £24,000 and £40,000 per year, which is between $29,000 and $48,000 USD. Nurses who are able to obtain British citizenship or residency can find many job opportunities through the NHS.

4. Canada

Canada needs to hire a staggering number of nurses – over 199,000 – by 2030 to meet the demands of its healthcare system. Similar to many other countries, Canada is facing challenges due to nurse retirement and a growing number of people with chronic illnesses.

There are job openings for nurses across Canada, but some provinces have a more urgent need than others. Ontario, for example, needs to find an additional 77,000 nurses by 2030.

Registered nurses in Canada earn competitive salaries, averaging around $70,000 CAD ($52,000 USD) per year. Nurses with advanced practice certifications, like nurse practitioners, can earn even more, with an average salary of $95,000 CAD ($71,000 USD).

Internationally educated nurses can work in Canada by passing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining provincial licensure. Nurses with experience in areas like cardiology, pediatrics, or geriatrics are in high demand.

5. Germany

Germany is anticipating a wave of nurse retirements in the coming decade. With nearly half a million nurses expected to retire by 2029, Germany faces a significant challenge in finding replacements.

On top of the looming retirements, Germany also has a rapidly aging population. This means that the demand for qualified nurses will continue to rise considerably in the years to come.

While German language skills can be a plus for foreign nurses seeking jobs in Germany, it’s important to note that positions in larger cities are increasingly requesting only basic German fluency. Some recruiters even assist foreign nurses with taking integration courses to help them adjust to life in Germany.

Registered nurses in Germany typically earn €40,000-€50,000 ($43,000-$54,000 USD) or more annually. Nurses with specializations in geriatrics, critical care, or oncology are especially sought after.

6. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing one of the most severe nursing shortages in the world. With a young population and a rapidly growing healthcare sector, the Kingdom only has around 57% of its nursing positions filled. The Saudi government aims to create over 106,000 new nursing jobs by 2030.

This unprecedented demand is largely driven by the ambitious expansion of the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia. The country is planning to build 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.

One of the biggest draws for foreign nurses in Saudi Arabia is the tax-free salaries and furnished housing allowances. Senior nurses can earn upwards of $100,000 USD annually, and generous vacation time and travel benefits are also common.

Saudi Arabia actively recruits nurses from countries like India, Philippines, and South Africa to address these shortages. Nurses from abroad must obtain licensing through the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties before they can begin practicing.

7. Singapore

Singapore’s Ministry of Health anticipates a shortage of 65,000 healthcare workers by 2030, with nurses being one of the most in-demand professions. An aging population with rising chronic disease rates, coupled with the expansion of medical services, is creating a significant need for more nurses in Singapore.

These job openings exist in both public healthcare institutions and private hospitals. The average registered nurse in Singapore earns around S$55,000 SGD (US$40,000) per year, with even higher salaries offered to nurse managers and advanced practice nurses. Benefits often include bonuses, healthcare coverage, paid time off, and retirement funds.

English is the primary language of Singapore, making it a relatively easy transition for nurses from certain countries. To become a licensed foreign nurse in Singapore, you will need to pass local exams and register with the Singapore Nursing Board.

8. New Zealand

New Zealand is actively seeking over 12,000 additional nurses by 2027 to address the growing demand in its healthcare system. This demand is caused by a combination of factors, including nurse attrition and the increasing healthcare needs of an aging population. Opportunities exist throughout the country, encompassing various settings like community health, hospitals, aged care facilities, and specialist providers.

Nurses considering a move to New Zealand can expect competitive salaries and a diverse range of roles. Registered nurses typically earn between $37,000 and $56,000 annually, with variations depending on experience and location. Beyond the professional opportunities, New Zealand boasts a stunning natural landscape and a vibrant culture, making it an attractive destination for nurses seeking a lifestyle change.

The healthcare system in New Zealand prioritizes quality care, making it a desirable destination for nurses worldwide. As the country strives to enhance its healthcare services, it actively welcomes skilled and passionate nurses who are willing to contribute to this growth.

9. Denmark

Denmark is another country facing a worsening nurse shortage due to its aging population. With roughly a third of Danish nurses approaching retirement age, there is a significant impact on the available workforce. This situation creates ample opportunities for international nurses with strong English skills to care for Denmark’s growing elderly population.

Nurses considering 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, with a strong emphasis on work-life balance, and a supportive healthcare environment.

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

10. Ireland

Similar to many other countries, Ireland faces a growing demand for nurses. The healthcare sector requires additional nurses to address its needs, offering opportunities across diverse settings, including hospitals, community-based care, and specialized roles.

Registered nurses in Ireland typically earn salaries ranging from $32,000 to $56,000 annually. While the job market can be competitive, Ireland offers a rich cultural experience and a welcoming environment for international nurses.

The Irish healthcare system prioritizes continuous improvement and values the contributions of nursing professionals. With a focus on providing high-quality patient care, Ireland is an appealing destination for nurses seeking new opportunities and professional growth.

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