What are the Highest-Paying States for Nurses?

With the high nursing demand, nursing students want to know the best place to be a nurse in the world. With the right education and and the right specializations, many nurses have their pick of the highest paying nursing jobs. Types of nursing jobs and salaries vary from one state to the next. With a few exceptions, the best places to be a nurse are often the same places that have the nursing shortfalls mentioned above. Some of these states offer incentives for incoming nurses because they want to make their states appealing to new care providers. These incentives include high pay and excellent benefits. Furthermore, some nursing schools in these states have great scholarships and financial aid programs.

The best states for nurse practitioners and RNs include some of the highest-paying jobs. Some of the highest paying nurse jobs come from these states:

  • California has an average RN salary of $102,700
  • Hawaii has an average RN salary of $96,990
  • DC has an average RN salary of $90,910
  • Massachusetts has an average RN salary of $89,330
  • Oregon has an average RN salary of $88,770

You may have noticed that California, which has the biggest need for new nurses, has the highest-paying nursing jobs. Some of the other high-need states also tend to pay very well. Alaska lands at #6 on the list, while New Jersey lands at #9. South Carolina and Georgia both fall toward the middle, providing a very comfortable pay level for new nurses. The outlier, unfortunately, is South Dakota. As mentioned above, in spite of having one of the biggest needs for nurses, South Dakota offers the worst average pay for nurses in the US.

Other Benefits For Nurses

When it comes to the best states for Nurse Practitioners, you can find benefits other than excellent pay. In fact, you can find great benefits for all sorts of nurses. While there’s nothing wrong with searching for the highest paying nurse jobs or the highest paid nurses in the world, you should also consider other factors. As mentioned above, other factors matter. Some states offer nurses autonomy, benefits, and protections against burnout. These states include many places in the northwest, northeast, and southwest. Alaska, which has a high need for nurses, falls among them. Other beneficial states include Washington, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Arizona, and New Mexico. Many other states are working toward granting nurses more work-related autonomy and other benefits. Authorities from these states are hoping to entice new nurses to work in their states. Keep an eye on nursing news in the future to see upcoming changes.

Best Paying Specialties For Nurses

Finally, when considering the best places for nurses, keep in mind that certain specialities make more money than others. Here some of the highest averages based on specialty:

  • Nurse anesthetist: $157, 690
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner: $102,000
  • Certified nurse midwife: $96,970
  • Nurse practitioner: $95,350
  • Pediatric nurse: $89,000
  • Critical care nurse: $80,000
  • Gerontological nurse practitioner: $64,906

Of course, you should consider more than pay when it comes to a nursing career. Specializing in something that you’re not passionate about is a recipe for quick burnout and resentment. However, if you have a passion or even an interest for any of the specialties listed above, you should absolutely pursue the one that interests you the most.


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Sandra Janowicz

Keeley Jones
Registered Nurse

Carrie Sealey-Morris