States with the Highest Demand for Nurse Practitioners

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), openings for nurse practitioners (NPs) nationally will increase by an anticipated 36 percent between 2016 and 2026. This faster-than-average projected growth is rooted not only in the increasing demand for healthcare services with the aging Baby Boomers, but also in the industry’s evolving attitudes about the scope of NP efficacy and anticipated physician shortages in primary care.

In 1965, the first official NP program was offered at the University of Colorado in response to the general understanding that nurses had strong knowledge regarding the health of children and families. While initial NP programs were met with resistance and skepticism, advanced practice nurses and leaders persevered to legitimize their profession and in some circumstances, work with greater independence from physicians.

In 1989—after years of organizing, lobbying, and educating—NP leaders worked to gain provider status and were granted limited reimbursement in clinical settings. Eight years later, NPs gained direct reimbursement, as the country and industry recognized NP skill in primary care. As of August 2018, 23 states have full practice laws in place which allow NPs to practice independently of other providers. While NPs have not yet been granted full practice authority everywhere in the country, research continues to show that NP care leads to comparable primary care health outcomes as physician care but at reduced costs. As trends continue to move toward allowing NPs more autonomy, demand will increase for NPs in all healthcare settings.

Another factor in the anticipated NP occupational growth in the next decade is the projected physician shortage in primary care. According to a 2018 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the year 2030 will see a shortfall of 14,800 to 49,300 primary care physicians. NP education can take five or six years less than physician education, and nearly 90 percent of NPs are primary care certified. What’s more, NPs are more likely to practice in rural, underserved, or underinsured settings. Because of all these reasons, most expert bodies in healthcare agree that NPs will be one crucial part of the solution to the impending shortfall of primary care physicians.

According to the BLS, the anticipated 36 percent growth rate between 2016 and 2026 will lead to 56,100 new jobs for NPs. Based on data collected from the Projections Central long-term occupational projections tool, there will be 14,400 NP job openings every year in the U.S.

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The states with the greatest expected number of job openings per year between 2016 and 2026 are:

State Annual Jobs Added for NPs
New York 1,450
California 1,200
Florida 950
Illinois 760
Ohio 570
Massachusetts 520
Tennessee 520
Virginia 480
New Jersey 440
Pennsylvania 440

Read on to learn detailed information about anticipated growth in NP demand in each top-demand state, as well as which specific regions within each state expected to offer the greatest number of job openings per year.

New York

According to long-term predictions by the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL), the NP occupation will see a growth of 41.6 percent between 2016 and 2026. New York is expected to create more than 6,000 new jobs during this period.

At the time of this writing, New York regional predictions are not available for the 2016 to 2026 window, but are expected to be similar to the 2014 to 2024 analysis below.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
New York City 260
Long Island 90
Hudson Valley 60
Finger Lakes 60
Capital Region 40
Western New York 40
Central New York 30
Mohawk Valley 20
Southern Tier 20
North County 20


At a growth rate of 35.1 percent in the decade preceding 2026, California is set to see NP occupational growth on par with the national rate. According to long-term occupational predictions from Projections Central, California will see a total growth of 4,600 jobs between 2016 and 2026, leading to total NP employment of 17,700.

According to the California Employment Development Department, the following regions are predicted to have the greatest number of annual job openings, based on projections data from 2014 to 2024.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Los Angeles County 144
Inland Empire Area 64
East Bay Area 52
San Benito and Santa Clara Counties 41
Sacramento Metro Area 34
San Francisco Bay Area 30
Fresno County 21
Solano County 9
Tulare County 8
San Luis Obispo County 7


Occupational projection data by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) provides information for years spanning 2017 to 2025. In this period, the NP occupation in Florida is predicted to grow at a rate of 34.7 percent. With more than 3,000 new jobs added to the market, there is expected to be a total of 12,801 NP jobs available. Utilizing the separations method, the DEO predicts that Florida will have a total of 7,542 job openings over this period, equal to approximately 943 job openings per year.

According to DEO, the following regions are predicted to have the greatest number of annual NP job openings between 2017 and 2025.

Region Annual Job Openings (2017-25)
Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Sumter Counties 149
Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties 117
Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, and Saint Johns Counties 85
Hillsborough County 79
Pinellas County 71
Palm Beach County 60
Broward County 57
Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties 40
Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties 36
Brevard County 34


Between 2016 and 2026, Projections Central reported that Illinois is anticipated to see NP job growth of 38.3 percent. With 3,030 new jobs created, total NP jobs projected for Illinois equal 10,940. Through job growth and net replacements, Illinois is expected to create 760 openings per year.

The following regional information for occupational projection in Illinois is provided by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and is for 2014 through 2024.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Cook County 129
Du Page County 32
Lake County 16
Fulton, McLean, Marshall, Mason, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties 16
De Kalb, Kane, and Kendall Counties 14
Cass, Christian, Logan, Menard, and Sangamon Counties 13
Boone, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties 11
Will County 10
Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Piatt Counties 8
Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, and Williamson Counties 6


Reaching almost 30 percent, the NP occupation in Ohio is projected to grow at a slightly slower than the national average between 2016 and 2026. This rate is still four times faster than the national average for all occupations during that same decade, which sits at 7 percent. According to Projections Central, this growth rate will result in 2,000 new NP jobs, for a total of 8,760 jobs by 2026. Through replacements and growth, Ohio will have 570 new jobs per year.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the following metropolitan statistical areas are predicted to have the greatest number of job openings between 2014 and 2024.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor 65
Cincinnati-Middletown 49
Columbus 38
Akron 24
Dayton 23
Toledo 20
Canton-Massillon 10


From 2016 to 2025, Projections Central predicts that the NP occupation in Massachusetts will grow by 27.5 percent. By 2026, there will be 8,030 NP jobs available as a result of the 1,730 new jobs created during that period. Each year, there are expected to be 520 job openings.

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the following regions are those with the greatest projected number of job openings between 2014 and 2024.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Boston 104
Central Mass 21
Hampden County 17
North Shore 16
Bristol County 10
Greater New Bedford 7
Cape and Islands 7


The NP occupation in Pennsylvania is predicted to experience growth of more than 30 percent between 2016 and 2026. According to Projections Central, Pennsylvania will add 1,570 new NP jobs to the market during this period, for a total of 6,710 NP jobs. Each year, there will be a predicted 440 job openings due to replacements and growth.

According to the DLI Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, the following metropolitan statistical areas in Pennsylvania will boast the greatest number of annual job openings each year between 2014 and 2024.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington* 81
Pittsburgh 28
Harrisburg-Carlisle 16
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton* 10
Reading 9
Lancaster 7
Scranton–Wilkes-Barre 8
York-Hanover 5
Erie 4
Altoona 2

* Pennsylvania counties only


At more than 40 percent, occupational growth for NPs is expected to be robust in Tennessee. Projections Central predicts that there will be 2,120 new NP jobs created between 2016 and 2026, for a total of 7,400 jobs. Average annual job openings in Tennessee for this period is predicted be 520.

At the time of this writing, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development does not provide information regarding the number of annual job openings per year on a regional basis. The following list represents the top regions in Tennessee for job growth per year based on 2014 to 2024 projections data.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Fayette, Shelby 83
Davidson, Rutherford, Trousdale, Wilson 80
Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart, Sumner, Williamson 50
Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Marion, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, Sequatchie 49
Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Washington, Unicoi 44
Knox 38
Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Cumberland, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott 29
Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Sevier, Union 20
Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore, Warren 15
Chester, Decatur, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, McNairy, Madison 15


According to Projections Central, Virginia is one of the top five states with the highest percentage of NP occupational growth, with an expected 43.7 percent growth between 2016 and 2026. During this period, Virginia will add an estimated 2,050 jobs to the labor market, for a total of 6,740. The expected average number of job openings per year due to replacements and growth totals 480.

As of August 2018, Virginia Labor Market Information does not provide detailed information regarding regional job openings. The following list represents a total number of new NP jobs anticipated per year based on 2014 to 2024 projections.

Region Annual Jobs Added for NPs (2014-24)
Capital Region Workforce Partnership 73
Hampton Roads 71
Piedmont Workforce Network 27
Shenandoah Valley 21
Greater Peninsula 21
Bay Consortium 18
Western Virginia 18
New River/Mt. Rogers 16
Region 2000/Central Virginia 12
South Central 12

New Jersey

According to Projections Central, New Jersey will experience NP occupational growth of more than 30 percent between 2016 and 2026. More than 1,500 new jobs will be created, resulting in 6,690 total NP jobs in the state. Each year, 440 NP job openings will be available due to replacement and growth.

Please note that the 2014 to 2024 regional projections data from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is incomplete.