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Increased Demand for Foreign Nurses and Engineers in the U.S.

The need for nurses and engineers in the United States continues to outpace the nation’s ability to fill its workforce needs domestically. Slightly different factors drive the increase of foreign-born professionals in both careers, but both industries need more workers than the U.S. can produce, resulting in increased foreign hiring and immigration rates.

Engineering and Job Opportunities

At present, the U.S. engineering industry hires one foreign-born engineer for every three U.S.-born engineers, compared to only a few years ago when the ratio was closer to 6:1. Foreign-born engineers come from multiple nations, although approximately 60 percent of immigrating engineers originate in Asian counties.

Some claim the need for foreign-born engineers reflects an unwillingness among American students to specialize in the field. In fact, rates of U.S.-born engineers remain stable. Growing demand and increased job opportunities account for the need for international workers.

To qualify for U.S. jobs, international engineers must have their academic credentials approved by an independent evaluating service. The academic evaluation translates international degrees into U.S. equivalencies and ensures credentials match criteria set out by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The engineer must also prove he or she meets the licensing board requirements in the state where the work is offered.

The U.S. Nursing Crisis

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the United States faces a significant and growing shortage of registered nurses. Unless trends change, by 2020 the DHHS estimates the nation will lack 800,000 registered nurses. A rapidly aging population increases the need for a healthy nursing workforce.

One solution to the growing crisis is to hire foreign-born and internationally educated nurses. It’s a somewhat controversial option, with some believing more effort should go into encouraging Americans to pursue nursing as a career. Even a sudden increase in U.S. born nurses, however, is unlikely to reverse the nursing shortage without recruiting internationally. At present, 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. nursing workforce is foreign-born.

As with engineers, international nurses must prove their training and education matches U.S. requirements and need to meet state licensing board requirements. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers a learning extension course for nurses who plan to enter the U.S. workforce. You can arrange to take the courses at 18 international locations or 220 locations within the U.S.

Both nurses and engineers should remember different U.S. states have slightly different licensing requirements. Contact the licensing board in the state where you plan to work and ask them for specifics.