How is the San Diego Job Market?

U.S.A. California


Hi, I'm researching a possible career change into nursing (from landscape architecture) and have a few questions:

1. It looks like the job market isn't so great right now. Are nurses (with BSN's) having a hard time finding jobs in the San Diego, CA area right now?

2. I've heard that the job market for nurses fluctuates a lot. Is it likely to be better in 2-3 years when I graduate? If it's bad right now, how long has it been bad for?

3. If i have a hard time finding a job in San Diego when I graduate is it an option to keep working in my original career rather than move out of town for a job? I've heard it's the kiss of death, career wise, to not start working right away after graduating. We have two little kids and I don't feel like we have the flexibility to move at this time in our life.

4. Right now I'm looking at National and CSUSM BSN programs...night classes are appealing because of child-care, but are there any other good programs in the area? Thoughts on the Entry level Masters at Azusa or USD?

Thanks so much to all of your for your input!! SO glad I found this forum!!


23 Posts

Run, don't walk in the direction of a field other than nursing...especially if you live in San Diego. Firstly, I love nursing. I have been a nurse in this town for quite some time and, though it's true that there are fluctuations, I've never witnessed anything like what is going on right now with regard to lack of employment opportunities. I know of 20 year experienced nurses who cannot find jobs right now. I come from a family of nurses and my relatives in other parts of the country have expressed that much of the same is going on in their areas, as well. With the creation of BSN express and Master's Entry programs and the down turn of the economy, the market has become absolutely saturated with registered nurses. The schools refuse to be forthcoming with potential students, because, let's face it, they are benefiting financially. It is widely publicized that the surplus of nurses has created a situation where many people are left holding the bag for loans in excess of $80,000. or more with no way to pay them back. A talk radio show I listened to covered the subject recently and there were so many people calling in that have been waiting YEARS without being able to locate a position as a new grad. My friend recently relocated to a small town in another state because she was unable to find a job here. CNN covered a story about it, as well. I don't mean to seem negative, but it's not a great time to invest money into such a venture that will probably not have a financial return. And it is anticipated to get worse before it gets better. Good luck with your decision.


1 Post

San Diego is a great market!, I'm a case manager at Scripps here and hire approx 4-5 new grads a week. There is no need to run in the opposite direction as a nursing career. Nobody should become a nurse to get rich. The comment above is very discouraging and I don't know a single nurse that would say something so negative especially when we work in a field where battling against the odds is no stranger to us. I would feel terrible If I hired a nurse with a negative outlook. California does have a little tougher time with hiring nurses faster than EVERY other state but this is due to the very large budget deficit that prevents millions in grants to hospitals. I would encourage to pursue and If at any point nursing doesn't feel like a calling you should just do something else.


23 Posts

You don't know me, Murseman and I take offense to you calling me negative. I think it's really irresponsible for you to tell someone that the market in San Diego is great when people are vying for jobs as new grads. You are a Case Manager, which requires nursing experience. I know, because I'm an RN Case Manager here in town at one of the hospitals, too. And I'm sure you had less obstacles attaining your clinical experience than this person would perhaps have, considering the way things are today. I don't have a negative attitude, nor was it my intent to be discouraging. I would hate to see anyone accrue the type of debt these schools are charging for positions that don't exist. Since you work at Scripps, you should know that their new grad program literally had hundreds and hundreds of applicants for a small number of spots.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

I think if you have a family to support and moving isn't an option, nursing would not be the wisest career choice. That is not negative, it is responsible realism. A recent study has shown as much as 43% of newly graduated nurses are still unemployed over a year later. And you are right - a nursing degree ages rapidly if it is not being used.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,515 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health.

Not a great market. In So Cal awful from all I hear and read. Nobody knows if it will be better in 2 or 3 or 6 years. There is no decline in schools (over supply) right now and most "babyboomers" will have no choice but to work much longer than predicted and desired so I would say only go for it if you have a very fierce desire to be a nurse. And network early as much as possible. And do not take on much school debt.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

If you are a new grad, it's a VERY BAD market: too many new grads, too few jobs. New grad residencies and positions get thousands of applicants for a handful of spots, so competition is fierce. 4.0s, networking, having connections, being an internal applicant...all of those help much less than you think because almost everyone has top grades, is networking, has a connection somewhere or is an internal applicant. BSNs and higher are preferred since a lot of places are Magnet or Magnet wanna-be.

To make things worse, the traditional "fallback" jobs for new grads--working in SNF, LTC/LTAC, ALF, rehab, etc.--are also demanding experience.

New grads hired right off the bat or with relative ease are the rare exception rather than the norm. Most of them are searching for 6-12 months or more...and yes, this includes the internal hires in my own hospital system that were told, "sorry, but you're not starting here" even though they've worked for our system for years.

If you have some nursing experience, it's a better market. Still tight but better.

As for what it will be like in 2-3 years...who knows? It may be better. It may be worse. It may not change one whit. Three years ago people were saying that it'd be better now...and guess what? Hasn't happened yet.

Don't go into nursing for money or job security, as neither is guaranteed either now or in the future.

But if nursing is what you truly want to do though, then by all means, pursue it! I do have some suggestions:

1. Go right for the BSN or MSN.

2. Do not take on astronomical amounts of debt for this degree.

3. Attend for-profit schools with caution. They may promise faster results, but at a steep price tag. Many of the classes will not be transferrable elsewhere should you pursue a higher degree. Depending on the school, you may not even be eligible for licensure in CA (Excelsior is the best example). Research them thoroughly before you sign onto one.

4. Work as a CNA/tech/aide while in school, to add meat to the resume, get you in a facility somewhere and help you network. Doesn't guarantee a thing as I've mentioned above, but it also can't hurt you. Do it more for the general healthcare experience than for any other reason.

5. Start saving up an emergency fund to help cover expenses while you job search after graduation.

6. Be open to the idea of gaining your first year or two of experience outside of CA...since that's what many new grads have to do.

7. Yes, not working right away can hinder your career...because you risk becoming an "old new grad." You're not eligible for a lot of new grad programs after a certain amount of time following graduation. Meanwhile, what you do remain eligible for, you will have to compete with new graduates whose knowledge and skills are still fresh, while yours may not be d/t not working.

I also moved this to the CA Nursing Forum to help you get better responses.

Best of luck whatever you decide!


106 Posts

It is an absolutely terrible job market for new grads in all of SoCal. I've heard San Diego and San Francisco are the hardest to find jobs. The job market has been bad for at least 5 years so there is no way to guess when it may get better. If you want a new grad nursing job you will have to search high and low and make it your full time job. I applied for about 150 jobs in 6 months before I got hired, 7 months after I got my license and my commute totally sucks and the pay is just okay.


99 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry, Observation, Rehab, Med-Surg.

I'm going to echo what the above posters said and can say that the nursing job outlook is horrible right now, especially for new grads. I have 2 friends and it took them a year to find their first full time nursing jobs. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Specializes in Near Future: ED, Future Future: ACNP!.

I've been looking for a job for 7 months in San Diego (and within 120 miles). I went to National. The classes are not at night consistently. Good program though.

@Murseman, I thought you could only get hired through Scripps New Grad Program as a new grad? How are you hiring 4-5 per week and how do I find you!

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

176 Articles; 27,610 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

The unemployment rate for new grad RNs in California is staggering. Nobody is doing any favors by making light of the horrid job situation:

More than four out of ten (43 percent) of California nurses, who were newly licensed as registered nurses in the previous 18 months, say they could not find a job, according to a recent survey paid for by the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care.

"Newly graduated RNs finding employment remains a pressing issue. After years of investment in building the workforce and increasing educational capacity, the economy continues to impact hiring and undermine the progress that has been made," says Deloras Jones, executive director of the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care.

Central Valley Business Times


42 Posts

It's brutal right now. I'm a new grad BSN and I have a previous BA in psychology, went to CSUSM, great GPA, member of Sigma Theta Tau, lots of volunteer experience, ACLS and PALS; none of it seems to help. I've applied to a ridiculous number of places, at least 50 probably almost 100, in Cali, Oregon, Washington, and Texas with no response other than a phone interview and no call back. I graduated in Dec. but started applying in Oct/Nov to new grad programs in San Diego. The Scripps program only considered the first 500 applicants which was achieved after a few hours of the application opening! I know 10 people that interned/externed at UCSD and networked their butts off with the nursing director, who was our instructor, and none of them even got an interview. New grad programs are being cancelled too :( It seems like LA is a little better because I think more people from my cohort have found jobs up there.

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