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Male nurses more common, Census Bureau finds


The representation of men in nursing has increased as the demand for nurses has grown over the last several decades, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study.

The new study shows the proportion of male RNs has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7% to 9.6%, and the proportion of male LPNs and LVNs has increased from 3.9% to 8.1%.

The study, “Men in Nursing Occupations,” presents data from the 2011 American Community Survey to analyze the percentage of men who are RNs, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and LPNs/LVNs. The data also provide estimates on a wide range of characteristics of men and women in nursing occupations.

“The aging of our population has fueled an increasing demand for long-term care and end-of-life services,” Liana Christin Landivar, the report’s author and a sociologist in the Census Bureau’s Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch, said in a news release. “A predicted shortage has led to recruiting and retraining efforts to increase the pool of nurses. These efforts have included recruiting men into nursing.”

Men typically earn more than women in nursing fields, but not by as much as they do across all occupations. Women working as nurses full time, year-round earned 91 cents for every dollar male nurses earned; in contrast, women earned 77 cents to the dollar across all occupations. Male nurses earned an average of $60,700 per year in 2011, while female nurses earned $51,100.

Because the demand for skilled nursing care is so high, nurses have very low unemployment rates. Unemployment was lowest among nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists (about 0.8% for both). For RNs and LPNs/LVNs, these rates were a bit higher, but still low at 1.8% and 4.3%, respectively.

Among other highlights of the survey, there were about 3.2 million female and 330,000 male nurses in 2011.

Of employed nurses, 78% were RNs, 19% were LPNs/LVNs, 3% were nurse practitioners and 1% were nurse anesthetists.

Although 72% of RNs left home for work between 5 a.m. and 11:59 a.m., a sizable minority — 19% — worked the evening or night shifts.

The majority of RNs worked in hospitals (64%). The majority of LPNs and LVNs worked in nursing care facilities or hospitals (about 30% each).

Men’s representation was highest among nurse anesthetists, at 41%. Male nurse anesthetists earned more than 2.5 times as much as the male average for all nursing occupations: $162,900 versus $60,700.

The report is available as a PDF at


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