Over the last decade, nursing earned a reputation as one of the best fields for finding ready, and steady, employment. Government figures anticipate a 25 percent growth rate between 2010 and 2020 in the United States. That translates into a need for about 700,000 RNs and 170,000 LPNs in addition to the 3.5 million nurses now working [sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ("Registered Nurses"); U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ("Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses"].
The changing face of health care, however, brings a challenge in predicting which field to pursue. For example, an LPN may earn less working in a nursing home than in a surgical hospital. Long-term care of the elderly is one of the fastest-growing fields in medicine, however, while hospitals are cutting staff as more people opt to have surgery in free-standing clinics. Thus, a job in a nursing home may be more secure. At the same time, competition for these positions is keeping pace with growth, which may make it harder to land either job in the first place.