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Working as a Registered Nurse [NOC 3012]

Job Description

Registered nurses care for patients in hospitals and other health care settings.

As a registered nurse, you perform the following duties:

  • provide direct nursing care to patients
  • work with a health team to put in place and evaluate patient care
  • consult with patients and their families
  • give medications and treatments as prescribed by a physician or according to established policies
  • keep track of and report symptoms and changes in patients’ conditions
  • operate or check medical apparatus or equipment
  • may help in surgery and other medical procedures
  • may supervise other nursing staff
  • may set up a patient discharge planning process
  • may teach and counsel patients and their families on health-related issues alongside other health-care providers

Source: WorkBC Career Profile

Industry Overview

Registered nurses are in demand throughout BC. There are currently not enough qualified nurses to meet this demand, particularly in northern and rural regions of the province.

You will find many job openings in specialty areas such as operating rooms, emergency rooms, and critical care, with many openings in the Lower Mainland. Experienced registered nurses are also needed to educate students and train new graduates.

The role of nurses is expanding as governments consider ways to control increasing health-care costs. One approach is offering basic care through a mixed team that consists of doctors and other health professionals. Nurses work alongside doctors and provide patient care in situations where a doctor’s skills are not required. These workers are called nurse practitioners, which is a new, self-directed role for nurses.

Job Outlook in BC

forecasted average employment growth rate, job openings, composition of job openings; for 2018 to 2028

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2018 to 2028:

Region Employment
in 2018
Average Annual Employment Growth Expected Number
of Job Openings
Vancouver Island 9,400 1.6% 4,290
Lower Mainland / Southwest 29,200 1.6% 11,730
Thompson-Okanagan 5,280 1.6% 2,320
Kootenay 1,100 1.6% 480
Cariboo 1,450 1.0% 390
North Coast & Nechako 440 2.2% 180
Northeast 530 1.6% 180

You can learn more about working in BC from the following sources:

Types of Employers

Registered nurses work in many settings including:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • residential care facilities
  • doctors offices
  • community health agencies
  • patients’ homes
  • schools
  • businesses and government offices


The median salary for registered nurses working full-time in BC is $77,167 a year.

Job Bank Canada, Wage Reports, provides hourly wages for Nurses in BC regions:

low, median and high hourly salaries by BC region

Source: Job Bank Wage Report [Search 3012]

You may belong to a union. This means that your wage rates and benefits are negotiated by union representatives on your behalf.

In addition to your salary, full-time registered nurses usually receive benefits, such as paid sick days, vacation time, and dental coverage.

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Working Hours

You typically work 8- to 12-hour shifts, usually on rotation, including weekends, evenings and holidays.

On average, full-time nurses work 36 to 40 hours per week. Part-time work is quite common.

Skills, Education and Experience


  • excellent communication skills
  • good problem-solving and decision making abilities
  • good judgment
  • patience
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • ability to multi-task in a complex and fast-paced environment
  • ability to work with others
  • ability to handle high levels of stress
  • compassion, dependability and maturity

Education and Experience

To work as a registered nurse you require:

  • completion of a recognized bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • successful completion of the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam
  • registration with the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals
  • additional academic training or experience may be required to specialize in a specific area of nursing


This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

To work as a registered nurse in British Columbia you must be registered with the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP).

For information on registration see:

Internationally Educated Nurses

If you were educated as a nurse outside of Canada you may be eligible to work as a registered nurse in British Columbia.

This involves the following steps:

  • apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service
  • submit the required documents in order to complete an assessment of your education and nursing practice
  • demonstrate English language proficiency
  • complete a criminal history record search
  • apply to the College of Registered Nurses of BC
  • you may be asked to complete a test of your nursing knowledge by completing the substantially equivalent competency assessment
  • write and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs

For more information see:

Provisional Registration is granted to qualified applicants with outstanding registration requirements (for example, you have yet to write and pass the national nursing exam). Provisional Registration allows you to work as a nurse in BC while you are meeting these requirements.

For more information see:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available in print at the Central Library or online at
    NOTE:  Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For registered nurses, look for these related job titles:

  • Clinical nurse
  • Community health nurse
  • Intensive care nurse
  • Nursing consultant
  • Occupational health nurse
  • Public health nurse
  • R.N.

Source: NOC

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the nursing and healthcare sector in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “health care” or “hospital” and click SEARCH.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, see the following:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for registered nurses in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. An example includes: