Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

The Top 5 Highest-Paying States for Nurses

Across any industry, salaries and hourly wages can vary widely from one state to another. For registered nurses, salary often depends on degree, training level, number of years in health care and even the department in which nurses work. Pursuing further training, such as the Online MSN at the University of Arizona, or specializing in a specific field may help to significantly increase your salary. Those who earn the highest-paying salaries usually work for the government, while the lowest-paid RNs are typically employed in doctors’ offices, reported Nurse Journal. The salaries of nurses working the halls of hospitals sit somewhere in the middle.

For the 2,745,910 registered nurses employed throughout the U.S., the average annual salary stood at $71,000, as of May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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According to Insider Monkey, here are the top five states with the highest-paying salaries for RNs:

1. California
Not only is California the largest employer of RNs across the nation, but it is also home to the best-paying salaries for nurses, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for nurses in this west coast state is $101,260, which breaks down to just below $50 per hour. The areas of Los Angeles, Glendale, Santa Ana and Long Beach are home to the highest concentration of nurses. In all, the state employs 255,010 registered nurses.
2. Hawaii
If you are willing to make the trip out to the Pacific island of Hawaii as a nurse, you will enjoy the second-highest paying salary in the nation. Each year registered nurses make an average of $90,130. With the majority of RNs working in the capital city of Honolulu, the state employs just under 11,000 nurses.
3. Massachusetts
Often considered the medical hub of the country, Boston, Massachusetts puts nursing on the map as home to the majority of the state’s employees. With some of the best teaching hospitals in the country, it is unsurprising that those in the industry enjoy high-paying salaries. On average, RNs in this New England state take home $88,650 each year. Currently, the state is experiencing a shortage of nurses, so now is a good time to apply if you are considering relocating.
4. Alaska
Though it may have the fewest nurses of any U.S. state, scarcely populated Alaska pays its RNs $88,510 each year. According to the Alaska Nurses Association, there are slightly more than 7,000 nurses employed. Over 50 percent of the nurses here work in the state’s capital of Anchorage.
5. Oregon
Another West Coast state, Oregon keeps the average nursing salary above the national median at $83,800 annually, which boils down to slightly more than $40 per hour, according to the BLS. Most of the state’s 32,490 nurses are employed in Portland, Vancouver and Hillsboro.

Overall, the job outlook for registered nurses is above average. According to the BLS, employment levels in the sector are forecast to grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, a higher average than all other careers.

Before you know it, you will be certified and working in the field as a nurse.

Regardless of which state you are in, the online MSN in Clinical Systems Leadership at the University of Arizona is designed to broaden your knowledge base, build your confidence as a healthcare professional and develop practical skills to help you in your career development.


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