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Best countries to work as a nurse in 2024: salaries, documents and more

In this article, we present a list of the top 10 best places for nurses to work and live in 2024, offering valuable insights into the advantages and challenges of each location

Last time updated
15.07.24

Nurses stand as crucial pillars within the healthcare system, navigating a profession rife with challenges and complexities. The relentless storm of the COVID-19 pandemic amplified persistent hurdles that nurses have grappled with for an extended period, pushing them to a breaking point. While the pandemic may have subsided, many challenges persist in the nursing profession. Therefore, making an informed decision about pursuing this career requires a careful examination of the countries that offer optimal conditions for nursing professionals.

Decide where you want to live and work

Choosing the ideal destination to work as a nurse abroad is a deeply personal decision, influenced by factors such as proximity to one's home country, language proficiency, or even climatic preferences. However, it is possible to consider more objective criteria for a comparative analysis, such as the quality of working conditions, the efficiency of the healthcare system, and competitive salaries offered in different countries.

Education and employment are closely intertwined, as obtaining a degree in a specific country often facilitates easier access to its job market. For instance, if you pursue studies in France, finding employment in the same country is likely to be more straightforward compared to navigating job markets in unfamiliar territories like Sweden or Finland, where you lack contacts, cultural familiarity, and language proficiency.

Decision deadline?

It's essential to assess your desired work location early on, but it's not an absolute prerequisite. With a diploma or work experience in hand, you can still venture into new horizons. Regardless of your situation, various factors come into play some personal and subjective, such as your affinity for a particular country's culture, language preferences, or climatic inclinations. On the objective front, factors like a country's quality of life and salary levels for your profession are crucial considerations.

Highest paying countries for nurses and landing a perfect job

Starting off on our exploration of the best countries for nursing careers, we take a closer look at a paramount factor: salary. Drawing from data on average nurse salaries provided by the Economic Research Institute, our analysis reveals the global landscape of nurse remuneration.

What is the top list of the countries with best conditions?
Source: self-creation with data from ERI
Source: self-creation with data from ERI

If you're wondering which are the highest paid nurses in the world, look to Switzerland, this nation takes the lead, offering impressive salaries hovering around 100,000 euros annually. Following closely is Luxembourg, with equally remarkable figures nearing 90,000 euros. The United States and Denmark trail closely, boasting salaries surpassing 80,000 euros.

Healthcare system vs. Money?

Recognizing that salary is not the sole determinant, we also evaluate the quality of each country's healthcare system. Utilizing data from The Legatum Prosperity Index 2023 (LPI), specifically focusing on the health ranking, we assign equal weight to both salary and healthcare system quality, each accounting for 50%.

This dual assessment has led to adjustments in the top 10 countries for nursing professionals. The United States, Austria, and the United Arab Emirates have shifted out of the ranking due to comparatively lower healthcare system quality. In their places, Finland, Iceland, and Japan have emerged, boasting excellent healthcare systems. The resultant ranking reflects a balanced consideration of both salary and healthcare system quality, offering valuable insights for nurses seeking the best countries to work in.

Salaries for nurses in 2024 | List of best countries for career
CountryAverage salaryProsperity Index (LPI)
Switzerland98,658 €10
Luxembourg90,572 €12
Norway66,603 €7
Netherlands66,851 €11
Denmark80,077 €16
Iceland62,214 €8
Japan47,840 €2
Australia69,283 €21
Belgium66,061 €18
Finland62,909 €15

Read more on the topic

Best cities to live and work in Europe
Best places to live in Europe
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Best healthcare in Europe

Where to look for nursing jobs?

Once you've fulfilled all the necessary requirements, diplomas, proficiency in English and the local languages of your desired country, it's time to embark on your job search.

The internet serves as the optimal platform for researching the job market. Numerous European job portals host thousands of job listings across the continent. On these portals, you can filter job offers based on your preferred sector, location, educational level, or required work experience.

Job search links

Several portals cater to a European audience, while others focus on individual countries. Start by exploring opportunities on the European Union's job portal, then expand your search to platforms offering pan-European listings such as eurojobs.com, eurojobsites.com, experteer.com, indeed.com, or page.com. Finally, delve into the local job portals of the specific country you're interested in!

Necessary work documents for Europe

Once you've secured a job and have the contract in hand, you can initiate the paperwork to obtain a visa or residence permit. While a few countries may allow you to start this process before securing employment, such opportunities are rare and typically come with restrictions.

Work contract first

In most cases, having a signed employment contract is a prerequisite for obtaining a visa.

If you are a European national, you need not worry about these issues, as you have the right to live and work in any European country. However, if you are not, you'll need to navigate multiple procedures to acquire the necessary documents.

Employment
Documents
Luxembourg
Read our dedicated article on visa
Work visa in Luxembourg

Top-10 countries to become and work as a nurse

Seven out of these ten countries are part of the European Union, underlining the region's prominence in providing lucrative opportunities for nursing professionals.

Switzerland

Swiss nurses are the highest paid nurses in the world and simultaneously, Switzerland holds a commendable 10th position worldwide in terms of its healthcare system, a noteworthy achievement. With an average of 18 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants in 2019, Switzerland doubles the OECD average. This reflects not only superior compensation but also a favorable working environment and high staff morale.

Luxembourg

Securing the second spot on our list, Luxembourg, despite its petite size, stands tall as one of the world's highest-paying countries for nurses. Offering an impressive average annual salary of around 90,572 euros, Luxembourg provides lucrative opportunities for nursing professionals. Similar to many other countries, nursing in Luxembourg is a highly regulated profession, requiring individuals to obtain a nursing license. International candidates must also validate their diplomas and undergo language proficiency tests, showcasing proficiency in French, German, and/or Luxembourgish. Luxembourg emerges not only as a financial hub but also as an enticing destination for skilled and qualified nursing professionals.

Norway

Renowned for its excellent healthcare system, Norway secures the seventh position in the Legatum Prosperity Index Health Ranking, surpassing our two precedent countries Switzerland and Luxembourg. This stellar healthcare infrastructure contributes to a life expectancy nearly 10 years above the global average, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As Norway's population ages, the demand for healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, continues to rise. Working as a nurse in Norway offers compelling advantages, including competitive salaries, flexible schedules, a balanced work environment, and a steadfast commitment to quality care.

Netherlands

Ranked fourth on our list, the Netherlands offers a competitive average annual salary ranging from 46,595 to 81,358 euros with an average of 66851 euros for registered nurses. Renowned for its excellent healthcare system, the Netherlands secures the 11th position in the Legatum Prosperity Index Health Ranking, further solidifying its status as an appealing destination for nursing professionals seeking both financial stability and a supportive healthcare infrastructure.

Denmark

Consistently ranked among the best countries to live and work, Denmark offers an unparalleled quality of life, extending its excellence to nursing professions. In Denmark, nurses earn a commendable average annual salary of 80,077 euros, reflecting the nation's commitment to fair compensation.

Iceland

Iceland, with an average annual salary of approximately 62,214 euros for nurses, earns its place on our list not solely for its financial compensation but for its outstanding healthcare system. Despite being comparatively lower than countries like Austria, the United Arab Emirates, or the United States, Iceland enters our list thanks to its exceptional position in the Legatum Prosperity Index health ranking, occupying the 8th position.

Japan

Despite offering a relatively modest average annual salary of 47,840 euros for nurses, Japan earns its spot on our list due to its exceptional healthcare system. Ranking as the second-best in the world according to the Legatum Prosperity Index Health Ranking, Japan demonstrates a steadfast commitment to healthcare excellence.

Australia

Australia has emerged as a prime destination for those considering overseas nursing opportunities, and it's easy to see why. Boasting a high standard of living and competitive salaries, the average annual salary for a nurse in Australia is around 69,283 euros. One significant advantage is that English is the national language, eliminating any language barriers. The demand for nurses in Australia is substantial, driven by a growing aging population, and this trend is expected to continue with increasing life expectancy.

Belgium

Belgium, known for its impressive healthcare salaries, offers a commendable average annual salary of 66,061 euros for nurses. Notably, it stands as one of the highest-paying countries for neurosurgeons as well. Nursing in Belgium provides various entry pathways, including bachelor's degrees and certifications. Applicants, including foreign nurses, must meet language proficiency, clinical training, and registration requirements. Foreign nurses follow the NARIC recognition process for practicing and obtaining the necessary visa for work, making Belgium an attractive destination for nursing professionals seeking both financial rewards and diverse career opportunities.

Finland

Closing our list is Finland, where nurses enjoy a respectable average annual salary of 62,909 euros, securing the 15th position in the Legatum Prosperity Index Health Ranking for healthcare excellence. Renowned for its high standard of living, Finland's excellence extends to its healthcare system. Similar to its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland grapples with an aging population, significantly increasing the demand for nursing professionals. The nation faces a nursing shortage due to retirements and the growing need for caregivers amid population aging.
faq

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does the aging population impact the demand for nurses in various countries?

Are language requirements a common consideration for nurses working abroad?

What role does regulatory compliance play in the international nursing profession?

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We took photos from these sources: MedicAlert UK on Unsplash, data from Economic Research Institute, Pixabay

Authors: Luz
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