Top 5 Countries for Nurses | Based on Average Annual Salary

October 21, 2020  |  Unistaff

Best countries to work as a nurse article header

Let’s celebrate the real heroes who have been helping the world survive the current pandemic: the nurses and healthcare workers! They continue to provide much needed care for every person affected by it. And they put themselves at risk day in and day out. Where would we be without them?


If you’re a nurse or you’re aspiring to join this noble profession, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the best countries for nurses to work in, based on annual average salaries. Not only do these countries offer attractive compensation rates, but they also open up exciting career growth opportunities. 

The global pandemic continues to severely strain healthcare systems all over the world. Many of which are on the brink of collapse. The impact of COVID-19 is relentless. And it has worsened the shortage of qualified nurses and doctors, making it more urgent than it already is. We rely on these selfless medical care providers as our first line of defense, and we need more of them!

To support these modern day heroes, it is important to highlight the importance of their work. And to showcase the countries that can offer them better career development opportunities that match their undeniable dedication to their jobs. 



The nursing profession offers the unique option of being able to work anywhere in the world. And if you’re a nurse, we salute all the hard work you’ve already put in so far! To make your career goals a reality, you need to do a lot of research. And we’re here to help make things a little easier for you. We compiled the following list which shows data on annual average salaries, in five different countries. They stood out from the rest because they offer the best pay and benefits.

Note: Keep in mind that each of these countries has a different policy regarding work visas and licensing constraints related to working as a nurse.


#5 - Australia


Average Annual Salary – US$ 56,000 

Working in Australia comes with a number of great benefits. They are famous for having a rich cultural tapestry and a well-balanced lifestyle. If you were to become a professional nurse in Australia you will be eligible to obtain a working visa. Your immediate family can migrate with you, too –  to work or to study. Plus, you can enjoy the benefits of government medical insurance until you become a permanent resident of the country. Because of the nursing shortage, it is in Australia’s best interest to entice nurses to stay in the country. As a result, you can apply for a permanent residence after two years.

Australia offers a variety of places to live and work, making it the chosen destination of hundreds of foreign nurses every year. You can choose to work in modern cities or in the remote outback. The average annual salary of a registered nurse is approximately US$ 56,000.

Foreign nurses who would like to work in Australia as a registered nurse will only be allowed if they meet the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).


#4 - Canada


Average Annual Salary – US$ 60,000

Canada is widely known for their openness to welcome immigrants from all walks of life. If you were to start working as a registered nurse in Canada, you have a high possibility of securing permanent residency. This is a special advantage not many of the developed nations provide easily. Immigrants with qualifications in healthcare are prioritized over other categories of skilled workers. The promise of a better quality of life and higher earnings, combined with the potential for career development draws in talented nurses to Canada every year.

Some of the job titles recognized in Canada include registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, community health nurse and occupational health nurse. The average annual salary for a registered nurse in Canada is approximately US$ 68,542.

Foreign nurses planning to work in Canada must first be qualified to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed/Registered Practical Nurse (LPN/RPN). The NNAS is the National Nursing Assessment Service for Canada and the US. And the first step to getting your nursing qualification is to register with this online assessment service.


#3 - US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

Average Annual Salary – US$ 70,000

The Virgin Islands fall into three different political jurisdictions: 

  1. British Virgin Islands, a British overseas territory

  2. United States Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory of the United States

  3. Spanish Virgin Islands, the easternmost islands of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, itself an unincorporated territory of the United States.

The US Virgin Islands, specifically, is another excellent location for nurses to work in. Its tropical climate is similar to that of the Philippines, without any harsh winters to speak of, unlike in the northern countries.  If you were to become a nurse in the US Virgin Islands, you’ll get to experience basking in the Caribbean sun on the white sand beaches of Magens Bay or Trunk Bay. 

The average annual salary will depend on the financial stability of the island. It can be up to US$ 70,000 per year. 

Similar to any of the 50 states, the US Virgin Islands has its own Board of Nurse Licensure. Nurse practitioners are required to meet their qualifications in order to practice within the territory. So if you’re dreaming of applying, it’s important to review and understand what is required. This can be found on the Virgin Islands Board of Nurse Licensure website.


#2 - United States of America


Average Annual Salary – US$ 73,500

The US is in the midst of a massive nursing shortage, with COVID-19 driving up the demand. There are more open positions for healthcare professionals than there are qualified candidates who could fill them. Foreign nurses are being actively recruited to help fill these roles.

Some of the benefits offered to foreign nurses include relocation budgets, flights to the US, and most importantly, full medical insurance coverage. A good practice is to verify the list of benefits and to ensure that it includes medical insurance. In addition, many employers offer to sponsor the EB-3 visa (green card) which gives them permanent residency status.

To migrate to the US for work, it’s crucial to have a solid job offer and a dependable, secure company to sponsor your visa application. However, even with these requirements in place, the visa application process can take up to a year. If you’re planning to work in the US, the best way to prepare is to kickstart your career while you’re still in your home country. Build up your experience as a registered nurse by working with local hospitals. And explore your options as early as possible by connecting with industry experts who can help you manage and understand the entire application process

Nurses in the US are paid generously. They receive an average annual salary of up to US$ 73,500.

Foreign nurses are required to have a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) certificate or a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment (National Council Licensure Examination: NCLEX-RN).

Note: Each state in the US has its own rules, working practices, requirements, and salary averages. Make sure to carefully look into the specific conditions that are required by the state you’re considering to work in. 




Average Annual Salary – US$ 91,000

Luxembourg is a beautiful, landlocked country in Western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its powerful economy produces a continuous flow of diverse, secure and well-paid jobs with advancement opportunities.

The country offers nurses the highest average annual salary in this list, up to US$ 91,000.

Those who aspire to move to Luxembourg and practice their profession, nurses must send the application for authorisation to practice the profession, completed and signed, to the Department for Healthcare Professions of the Ministry of Health (Ministère de la Santé). If the documents are not in German, French or English, a translation certified by a 'sworn translator' must be attached. And they must pay a EUR €75 tax. It can be quite challenging to secure a job, within healthcare or in any other industry. Because it is usually required to be proficient in one of the official languages, in addition to English. 


We hope this list has inspired you to imagine your future job as a registered nurse abroad! Travel options might be limited at the moment. But this is the perfect chance to determine where you eventually want to be, to build your career and live a better life. Keep working towards achieving your dreams and building your career!

If you’re searching for ways to become a nurse abroad, check out our Job Openings page!  And if you want to know more about prospects in the US, check out the United States Candidate Development Program (USCDP) to discover how this can support your goals.



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Unistaff Content Team

This article was put together by Unistaff's team of researchers, creative writers and content creators. We pride ourselves by publishing the most updated pieces of content in our blog section to enable you to make well informed decisions.

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