The 15 Highest-Paying States For Nurses | NurseJournal.org (2024)

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Updated March 22, 2023

Learn about the top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. Find out which cities pay RNs the most and how the regional cost of living can impact your salary.

The 15 Highest-Paying States For Nurses | NurseJournal.org (13)Credit: Ariel Skelley / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The 15 Highest-Paying States For Nurses | NurseJournal.org (14)

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If you are a registered nurse (RN) looking to relocate, you may be interested in learning about the top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. This guide explores average salary ranges, top-paying cities, and cost of living. Discover which U.S. states and cities offer the best opportunities for negotiating a competitive RN salary.

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15 Highest-Paying States for Nurses

  1. 1

    California

    California tops the list of 15 highest-paying states for nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for RNs in California is $124,000 per year, or $59.62 per hour, compared to the national average salary of $82,750. The salary range for RNs across the state starts at $78,070 for the bottom 10th percentile and $165,620 for the top 90th percentile.

    The top-paying California cities include:

    • San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara: $155,230
    • San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward: $151,640
    • Vallejo — Fairfield: $146,360

    The high cost of living in California, at 10% over the national average, can offset RN salaries. The state also features an increased demand for nurses. In fact, Projections Central data shows a projected employment growth rate for California RNs at 16.7% for 2018-2028, compared to the 9% national average.

  2. 2

    Hawaii

    Hawaii ranks second on the list of top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. The BLS reports the average salary for RNs in Hawaii at $106,530, or $51.22 per hour. The lowest 10% of Hawaii RNs earned an annual salary of $75,380, while the top 90% of RNs earned a yearly $129,670.

    In 2021, the BLS listed top-paying cities for RNs in Hawaii:

    • Urban Honolulu (Oahu): $107,680
    • Kahului — Wailuku — Lahaina (Maui): $107,600

    A popular vacation destination, Hawaii ranks high on the cost-of-living index at 112, compared to the national average of 100. The state's high-paying RN salaries can help balance the increased cost of rent, food, and other living expenses. In addition, Hawaii's remote location fuels the state's need for nurses and keeps RN salaries competitive.

  3. 3

    Oregon

    Oregon ranks third for highest-paying states for RNs. The average yearly salary for RNs in Oregon is $98,630 ($47.42 per hour). BLS data from March 2022 also shows a full salary range of $76,180-$127,680 across the state. Keep in mind that salaries can vary by location, education, certification, and experience.

    The highest-paying cities in Oregon include:

    • Portland — Vancouver — Hillsboro: $101,710
    • Eugene: $97,330
    • Medford: $95,020

    The cost-of-living index in Oregon is 113.1 overall and 148.9 for housing alone. Despite these high numbers, when adjusted for the higher cost of living, the average Oregon RN salary becomes $96,066 annually. This adjustment still represents a significant income for RNs in the state.

  4. 4

    Washington, D.C.

    According to the BLS, RNs in Washington, D.C. make an average annual salary of $98,540, or $47.38 per hour, ranking the nation's capital city at fourth on the list of top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. Across the city, the average RN salaries range from $62,700 for the lowest 10th percentile to $129,670 for the highest 10th percentile.

    Factors that impact the increased pay rate for RNs in Washington, D.C. include a higher-than-average cost of living at 152.1. Factoring in the cost-of-living index, RNs in Washington, D.C. earn an adjusted average salary of $87,208 per year.

  5. 5

    Alaska

    Alaska ranks fifth on our list of the top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. The BLS reports the average salary for RNs in Alaska at $97,230 per year, with an hourly rate of $46.74. The salary range for RNs from the lowest-paid 10% to the highest-paid 10% is between $77,450 and $127,020, respectively.

    The top-paying city for RNs in Alaska is Anchorage, paying RNs an average annual salary of $96,160.

    In addition to its remote setting and high cost of living, Alaska shows an increased demand for nurses. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesprojects a need for over 5,000 nurses between 2014 and 2030. This demand can drive salaries for RNs willing to work in the state.

  6. 6

    Massachusetts

    The average annual salary for RNs in Massachusetts is $96,630, 22.4% higher than the national average. BLS data shows the lowest 10th percentile of RNs earned $61,180, while the top 10th percentile made $151,310 annually.

    The top cities for average RN salaries in Massachusetts include:

    • Boston — Cambridge — Nashua, MA-NH: $99,950
    • Barnstable Town: $91,240
    • Leominster — Gardner: $88,940

    Massachusetts ranks high on our list of the top 15 highest-paying states for nurses due to its increased cost-of-living index of 127.2. Despite the state's small size, Massachusetts hosts nine hospital systems with Magnet designation. This symbol of nursing excellence is reflected in RN salaries.

  7. 7

    Washington

    According to the BLS, RNs in Washington earn an average of $95,350 annually, ranking seventh among our top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. Per hour, RNs in Washington make an average of $45.84. The 90th percentile of RNs working in the state report earning up to $127,320 each year, according to the BLS.

    Top-ranked metropolitan areas for Washington RN salaries include:

    • Seattle — Tacoma — Bellevue: $99,310
    • Spokane — Spokane Valley:- $92,620
    • Wenatchee: $91,470

    Washington's high cost-of-living index is, in part, due to its competitive housing market. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Washington's regional price parity (RPP) is 107.4, compared to the national average of 100. When factoring in RPP, the adjusted annual income for RNs becomes $88,294, a figure that still exceeds the national average RN salary of $82,750.

  8. 8

    New York

    New York's average annual salary for RNs at $93,320 ($44.86 per hour) is 12.8% higher than the national average. In addition, BLS data shows a median RN salary of $96,170 throughout the state.

    Top-paying cities in New York for average RN salary rates include:

    • New York — Newark — Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: $98,460
    • Buffalo — Cheektowaga — Niagara Falls: $80,740
    • Kingston: $78,080

    Living expenses in New York cost more than many other areas of the U.S., particularly in larger cities like New York City and Buffalo. The state's housing market is also particularly competitive, which drives up the cost of living. However, New York demonstrates a great need for RNs, with the BLS reporting a projected employment growth of 24.6% between 2018 and 2028. This demand for RNs, combined with a higher cost of living, calls for increased nurse salaries in the state.

    In 2022, New York granted full practice authority to nurse practitioners. RNs seeking an increased salary and more professional autonomy should consider earning a master of science in nursing to become a nurse practitioner.

  9. 9

    New Jersey

    According to the BLS, the mean yearly salary for RNs in New Jersey is $89,690, or 43.12 per hour. New Jersey RNs in the lowest 10% of earners reported an average $70,920 annually, while the top 10% of earners reported salaries of $117,990 and above.

    The average RN salaries in the top-paying cities in New Jersey include:

    • Trenton: $86,330
    • Atlantic City — Hammonton: $84,550
    • Vineland — Bridgeton: $82,210
    • Ocean City: $80,450

    New Jersey's RPP ranks 11.2% higher than the national average, bringing the adjusted salary for RNs in New Jersey to $79,645. The state's dedication to quality nursing is represented through their 24 hospitals with Magnet designation.

  10. 10

    Nevada

    With the average annual salary of $88,800 ($42.69 per hour), Nevada ranks 10th on our list of highest-paying states for nurses.

    The top-paying cities in Nevada for RNs include:

    • Las Vegas — Henderson — Paradise: $90,230
    • Carson City: $86,410
    • Reno: $84,590

    Nevada's strong demand for nurses explains the high-paying RN salaries. In fact, the BLS projects an employment growth rate of 22.3% for Nevada nurses between 2018 and 2028, compared to the national projected growth rate of 9%.

  11. 11

    Connecticut

    BLS data from May 2021 shows Connecticut RNs earned an average annual salary of $88,530, or $42.56 per hour. The average annual salary across the state for all occupations was significantly less at $66,130 per year.

    Top-paying cities in Connecticut include:

    • Danbury: $94,370
    • Bridgeport — Stamford — Norwalk: $90,950
    • Norwich — New London — Westerly, CT-RI: $89,250
    • New Haven: $89,530
    • Waterbury: $85,670

    According to the Bureau of Economic Advancement, the RPP reported for Connecticut is 103.4, compared to the national average of 100. The adjusted income for RNs in Connecticut then becomes $85,520.

  12. 12

    Rhode Island

    Rhode Island ranks 12th on the top 15 highest-paying states for nurses. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for RNs in Rhode Island is $85,270, or $40.99 per hour. The lowest 10% of earners reported earning $61,340 and below, while the highest 10% of earners made $101,650 and above.

    The BLS combines data from Providence, Rhode Island and Warwick, Massachusetts to determine the top-paying city in Rhode Island for RNs, with an average annual salary of $85,200.

    The smallest U.S. state, Rhode Island's RPP is slightly higher than the national average at 101.8. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a deficit of 100 nurses between 2014 and 2030, increasing the demand for RNs in the state.

  13. 13

    Minnesota

    The BLS reports an average annual salary for RNs in Minnesota at $84,030 per year ($40.40 hourly). This figure outpaces the mean annual salary ($60,480) for all occupations in the state by more than $24,000.

    The top-paying cities in Minnesota include:

    • St. Cloud: $87,350
    • Minneapolis — St. Paul — Bloomington, MN-WI: $86,690
    • Rochester: $86,470

    Minnesota offers nurses an increased salary due to its great demand for nurses within the state's renowned healthcare facilities, such as Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Overall, the BLS projects RN jobs in Minnesota to grow by 12.4% between 2018 and 2028.

  14. 14

    Maryland

    According to the BLS, the average annual salary for RNs in Maryland is $82,660, or $39.74 per hour. The salary range across the state begins at $60,420 for the lowest-paid 10% of RNs to $101,650 for the highest-earning 10% of RNs.

    The top-paying cities in Maryland include:

    • Baltimore — Columbia — Towson: $83,080
    • California — Lexington Park: $77,880
    • Salisbury, MD-DE: $77,400

    Maryland's cost-of-living index reaches 113, driving the higher salaries for RNs. The state also shows an increased demand for nurses, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at 11.2%.

  15. 15

    Arizona

    Arizona ranks 15th in the U.S. among the top-paying states for RN salaries. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2021 shows the average annual salary for RNs at $81,600 ($39.23 hourly). The top 90th percentile of earners reported making $100,200 and above.

    The highest-paying cities across the state include:

    • Prescott: $84,930
    • Phoenix — Mesa — Scottsdale: $82,630
    • Yuma: $80,770

    Considering the number of retirees in the state, Arizona's demand for nurses remains high. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 32% of the residents are over age 50; this equates to more than 2 million seniors and elderly citizens in need of healthcare.

The 15 Highest-Paying States For Nurses | NurseJournal.org (2024)

FAQs

The 15 Highest-Paying States For Nurses | NurseJournal.org? ›

1. California

With an average salary of $124,000 annually, the Golden State takes the prize for being the highest-paying state for registered nurses.

Which US state pays nurses the most? ›

1. California

With an average salary of $124,000 annually, the Golden State takes the prize for being the highest-paying state for registered nurses.

What state pays nurses the lowest? ›

South Dakota is known to have the lowest nursing salary compared to any other state at an average annual wage of $60,540.

What city pays the most for RN? ›

The average Registered Nurse salary varies significantly from city to city. San Jose, CA and the surrounding area has average RN salaries of $155,230. This makes San Jose the highest-paying city for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the BLS).

What are the highest-paying states for nurses adjusted for cost of living? ›

What are the Highest Paying States for Nurses?
RankingStateHourly Mean Wage
1California$59.62
2Hawaii$51.22
3Oregon$47.42
4District of Columbia$47.38
6 more rows
Mar 7, 2023

Which state is the hardest to become a nurse? ›

The Buckeye State actually takes the cake as the longest state to get licensed in, on average, and with attractive Midwestern cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, many nurses in the surrounding states (and beyond) go through Ohio's long licensure process.

Are nurses underpaid in US? ›

In response to the findings of the two reports, Dr Pamela Cipriano, ICN President said: “Nursing, a 90% female profession, has been historically underpaid. Caring professions like nursing are often regarded as 'women's work' and therefore are undervalued and underpaid or even unpaid.

What is the highest paid RN in the hospital? ›

What are Top 5 Best Paying Related Hospital Rn Jobs in California
Job TitleAnnual SalaryMonthly Pay
Overlake Hospital Rn$238,293$19,857
Online Rn$151,093$12,591
Remote Methodist Hospital Rn$139,260$11,605
Travel Rn$137,586$11,465
1 more row

What state has the highest demand for registered nurses? ›

Projections Central estimates the job outlook (projected number of positions available) for nurses between 2020 and 2030 is greatest in the following states:
  • California: 21,200 projected positions.
  • Texas: 16,210 projected positions.
  • New York: 14,430 projected positions.
  • Florida: 13,250 projected positions.
Apr 25, 2023

Why are nurses getting paid so much? ›

Nurses get paid so much for many different reasons having to do with helping people, education and training requirements, and the stress of the job.

Can you live comfortably as a nurse in California? ›

Make The Most Of Your Salary

However, due to California's high-paying nursing salaries and various cities with affordable living costs, it's very possible to live comfortably in this state on your own.

Why do US nurses get paid so much? ›

Education requirements

Many nurses go through four-year degree programs in nursing and also have to pass the NCLEX exam. Their education and training can be rigorous resulting in a salary that is relative to their efforts and also one in which they can hope to pay back any educational loans they may have taken out.

What is the highest pay for a travel nurse? ›

Travel nurse salaries range widely across the country, with the lowest earners making $40,000 and the highest earners making $155,500 annually!

What is the highest paying hospital in Texas? ›

University Hospitals competitors salaries in Texas
RankCompany nameAverage pay in Texas
1The MetroHealth System$67,963
2Brigham and Women's Hospital$51,266
3The Geauga Hospital Assn Inc$50,397
4Cleveland Clinic$48,578
6 more rows
Dec 12, 2022

How much are nurses paid in Canada? ›

How much does a Nurse make in Canada? The average nurse salary in Canada is $76,031 per year or $38.99 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $59,875 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $105,477 per year.

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