One of the most interesting charts to come from the federal government recently is the one that projects the number of new nursing jobs every year through 2026. It clearly shows why becoming a nurse is a popular career choice.

The chart, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows that the demand for nurses is going to be five times that of the next closest job (sales representative). The BLS projects more than 200,000 new nursing job openings each year for nurses across the country through at least 2026, which is well over a million new job openings by the middle of the next decade.

That’s great news for those who want to become an RN by earning a college degree, especially because many experts think there will not be anywhere near enough nurses to fill those vacancies.

Many may wonder where the job growth will be at its highest. The following states show where the number of new nursing jobs will rank among the highest in the country. The numbers are from Projections Central, which uses BLS data to make state-by-state projections for job growth. The numbers are for job growth between 2016 and 2026.

Texas and Florida

Many of the states having a boom in the number of nurses are in the South. It’s an area of the country that has been growing for years, both in population and industry. The states of Texas and Florida have led the way, both passing New York to become the second and third largest states in the union, by population.

Texas had the largest number of new residents between July 2017 and July 2018 at 379,128, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s not surprising that the state is also projected to have the largest percentage increase in the number of nurses at 24.1%.

Florida had the largest net domestic migration to its state (the people moving in vs the people moving out) of 132,602 between July 2017 and July 2018, according to the Census Bureau. The Sunshine State also is leading the way in nursing jobs, with a 21.4% gain projected by 2026.

Across the South

This trend continues across the South, which is the most populous section of the country, according to the federal government, with more than 124 million people. It’s also the fastest growing section of the country, growing by 38.1% in 2018 alone.

It’s no surprise that many of these states also are having a boom in the number of nurses. Here they are, broken down by Census Bureau region.

South Atlantic

Florida leads the way in new nursing jobs in this group. However, many of the other states in this region are projecting large growth. They include:

  • Georgia (18.3%)
  • North Carolina (15.7%)
  • South Carolina (18.6%)

East South Central

This area is led by Tennessee, where 18.9% growth in new nursing jobs is expected by 2026. Other states in this region with good job growth for nurses include:

  • Alabama (12.9%)
  • Kentucky (12.1%)
  • Mississippi (10%)

West South Central

These are the southern states west of the Mississippi, an area which often also sometimes includes Missouri (although not officially). Texas is the leader in this region, but this area is also where many states are expected to have large amounts of new nursing jobs. They include:

  • Arkansas (15.7%)
  • Louisiana (13.6%)
  • Oklahoma (10.1%)

Also, nearby Missouri, which sits just the north of this area and is sometimes included in this group of states is expected to see a 15.8% increase.

For healthcare professionals living in these states who want to be nurses, there’s never been a better time to enter the profession they love. Degree programs that use online classrooms have made earning a degree more convenient than ever. For those who live in the fast-growing South, it’s an exciting time to make this next step.