If you’ve looked into job growth in Maine in any of the last few years, you’ve likely seen the same profession listed at the top: nursing. In various forms, this profession has represented the single fastest-growing job market in the state, and there’s no reason to suspect this is changing just yet.

Back in 2017, job growth surveys from Zippia found that the nurse practitioner market, in particular, was on top. Then, a year later, we posted findings from the Department of Labor indicating that Maine was expected to see more growth in registered nurses than any other job position by 2026. These data points — along with the fact that various other healthcare professions also ranked quite high on the lists — were attributed largely to Maine’s aging population. The combination of more people growing older and older nurses retiring has created an enduring need for new workers in nursing professions.

Moving forward, we don’t expect any of this to change. In fact, given the coronavirus outbreak and the immense strain it has put on healthcare systems, demand for trained nurses may even continue to rise. Recent estimates from the World Health Organization suggest that the world “needs six million more nurses.” This is because while the nursing workforce is on the rise, it’s not rising as quickly as demand for healthcare — a problem the coronavirus could well exacerbate. While this is an unfortunate circumstance for healthcare as a whole, it should only solidify nursing as an area of reliable job growth.

As for Mainers who are interested in taking advantage of that job growth, and finding careers in healthcare, we have suggestions for students and existing nurses alike.

Study Nursing

Naturally, students or those looking into going back to school can take advantage of these trends and conditions by studying nursing. BSN and ADN degrees (Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Associate Degree in Nursing) are available at several of the state’s prominent universities. Either can lead to work as an RN—and a long, stable, in-demand career thereafter.

Know Your Value

If you’re just beginning to explore a career in nursing — or if you’re practicing already but considering a move to a new facility or hospital — it’s important to know your value. The demand for nurses right now gives RNs some degree of leverage, and while it may not universally lead to higher salaries, it certainly can in some cases.

On a related note, now may also be a good time to consider working as a temporary or traveling nurse. These positions are also in particularly high demand, and per analysis from a University of Southern Cal medical professional, the agencies assisting people in such positions are charging very high rates. This can strain hospitals looking for help from travel nurses — but it means that some nurses are in fact enjoying higher rates of pay.

Pursue Higher Education

If you’re already a practicing nurse, or if you’re in school but considering your long-term career, it’s also important to recognize that there are educational opportunities beyond the aforementioned BSN and ADN degrees. As Maryville University writes for those exploring an online masters in nursing, there are in fact leadership roles in the broader nursing profession that can be obtained with the proper qualifications.

The specific degree in question is an MSN, or Masters of Science in Nursing, and as with so much higher education in general, it will expand your career options as a nurse. With an MSN, you’ll be in position to take on administrative roles in healthcare facilities, as well as potentially get involved with paid instruction or mentorship.

Consider Practitioner Roles

As an extension of our last point about higher education and additional opportunities, now is also a good time to look into what it would take to ascend to a nurse practitioner position. These are jobs that come with more responsibility, and which will require a combination of experience and, possibly, the MSN degree. But they can also be very rewarding positions for those interested in healthcare—and they can pay roughly 50% more than nursing positions in some cases.

As you can tell, there are numerous ways to get involved in the nursing profession in different capacities. But for those Mainers who may be interested, there has never been a better time to explore the options.

Article specially written for destinationoccupation.com by Alina Turner.

Alina Turner is an online blogger with a passion for covering Maine. She hopes that her articles provide her local and national readers with good insight into what is going on in the state. Her main goal is to provide positive news and features. In her free time, she is an avid reader and chess player.