The best places to work if you're an expat nurse

  • Nursing
Published on 2017-03-23 at 13:36 by Veedushi
If you're considering a career in nursing or are currently working as a registered nurse and beginning to look for opportunities overseas, the big question is, where should you start looking? While careers in corporate or creative sectors may not require any additional qualifications, certain jobs in medicine, for example, require local licenses and registration. Add that to global differences in salary, and finding a destination that suits your personal and professional needs can become a difficult feat! Here are some of the best destinations for nurses or would-be nurses looking to move abroad.

United Kingdom

The UK is famous for its National Health Service which is a socialised form of healthcare (somewhat similar to that offered by Canada). To practice in the UK, you will need to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, which is the country's regulatory body. The cost of living in the UK varies broadly, however, and the national average salary for a nurse (about $30,000) is likely to vary depending on whether you are in a city capital or further out in a more rural area. Nonetheless, there is a good quality of life on offer with the option to live in either urban metropolises or the glorious nature of the British countryside.

United States of America

The USA is a vast country that offers a wide variety of destinations within its borders, from snowy Alaska to sunny California. Nursing in the US is regulated at a state level, meaning that international nurses will need to be licensed by the relevant state's Board of Nursing, which may be more limiting than other countries where you are able to seek national registration. However, the Nurse Licensure Compact means that there are now a number of states that offer and recognise a 'multi-state license' if you are looking for a more flexible option. Once you get going, the average salary for a registered nurse is the US is estimated to be $66,000.


Scandinavia on the whole is well-known for its high taxes and impressive welfare system, and Norway is no exception. One of the differences between Norway and some of the other countries featured on this list is that there are additional language requirements that must be satisfied before you get a visa and start working. A recent estimate suggested that just under $30 per hour (approximately $50000 a year) was the average pay for registered nurses in Norway, which is 6% less than the national average wage. However, given the overall high quality of life in the country, this doesn't seem like as much of a negative as it may first appear.


Canada is renowned for its publicly funded healthcare system. Its size also means that, like the US, you have a range of choice regarding where you want to place your roots, be it the outdoorsy yet urban Vancouver, or the culturally rich Montreal. Another similarity to the US is that the healthcare in Canada is regulated at a provincial level and you will need to have proficiency in the French language (including potentially completing an exam) to work in the province of Quebec. Whichever province you choose, the average salary across the country is around $60,000 (US).


The second Scandinavian feature on this list offers a similar quality of life to Norway with the same average salary, but a different (yet equally beautiful) landscape as well as a slightly more mild climate. Another benefit of working in Denmark if you are European (like other EU countries) is that you do not require a residency permit as a member of the common market. However, like Norway, you do need linguistic proficiency in Danish. In addition, foreign qualifications are not treated equally, with different “credits” being awarded for qualifications achieved abroad before authorisation to practice is granted.


Australia remains an extremely popular destination for those looking to move abroad, with its pristine beaches, soaring temperatures and grandiose cityscapes. If you're a nurse looking to venture to the land down-under, another appeal is that nursing remains a well-paid profession, with an average salary of approximately $40,000 (US). Furthermore, if you are looking to move from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore or New Zealand as a registered nurse, your qualifications will be recognised for their Aussie equivalent by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, making the move all the more straightforward.