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The 15 Highest-Paying States for Nurses

June 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

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As an expansive field that offers many lucrative career opportunities, the nursing discipline allows professionals to pursue all degree levels to focus on different types of nursing across diverse healthcare settings.

Learners can review this page to explore the highest-paying states for nurses in the nation. This guide touches on the annual mean wages for each state, including figures from the 10th and 90th percentiles. This page also focuses on some of the best hospitals for nurses seeking employment. Salary opportunities for nurses vary based on location, setting, and the level of education or employment history.

15 Highest-Paying States for Nurses


  • California

    As the highest-paying state for nurses, California RNs enjoy an annual mean wage of $113,240. RNs in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $71,230, while nurses in the 90th percentile earned an annual mean wage of $163,830.

    California also boasts the highest employment level for RNs in the U.S., with 302,770 practicing nurses in the state. Professionals who want to base their nursing careers in the top-paying areas within the state can consider opportunities in Salinas, San Francisco, Oakland, or Hayward.

    Nursing students can explore many nursing RN training programs across colleges and universities in the state. Interested individuals can also explore our guide on how to become a registered nurse in California.


  • Hawaii

    Registered nurses in Hawaii enjoy the second-highest paying opportunities for their occupation with annual mean wages of $104,060. In the bottom 10th percentile, Hawaii RNs experience annual mean wages of $68,820. RNs in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $131,360.

    Hawaii features an employment level of 11,330 RNs. RNs working in the Hawaii/Kauai nonmetropolitan area enjoy some of the highest salary opportunities in the state. This area offers the fourth-highest paying wages for a metropolitan area in the nation.

    Individuals interested in becoming an RN in Hawaii can review state-specific nursing and licensure requirements in this guide. Aspiring nurses can explore nursing program opportunities across colleges and universities in the state.


  • Washington, D.C.

    In Washington, D.C., RNs enjoy high salary opportunities, earning annual mean wages of $94,820. RNs in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $61,520, while those in the 90th percentile see wages of $134,020.

    Some of the largest hospitals in Washington, D.C. include MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and Providence Health System. RNs experience the highest salary opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry and the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels within hospitals. The District of Columbia features an employment level of 10,890 RNs. Readers can refer to this guide to learn more about how to become a registered nurse.


  • Boasting the fourth-highest pay for RNs in the U.S., Massachusetts features an annual mean wage of $93,160 for professionals in the field. RNs in the 10th percentile in Massachusetts experience annual mean wages of $60,180 and RNs in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $141,800.

    Massachusetts features an employment level of 81,020 RNs. These nurses can explore job opportunities at some of the largest employing hospitals in the state, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and UMass Memorial Medical Center.

    RNs who want to pursue their careers in Massachusetts’ highest employment areas can look for opportunities in the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH metropolitan area. These professionals can research how to become a nurse practitioner in the state and explore the different available programs across Massachusetts’ colleges and universities.


  • Registered nurses (RNs) practicing in Oregon enjoy high annual mean wages of $92,960. Nurses in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $68,160, while those in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $122,850. These nurses experience the highest salary opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

    Oregon features an employment level of 36,660 RNs. Professionals can pursue the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs within hospital settings. Hospitals in the state with the best employment opportunities include OHSU Hospital, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, and Providence Portland Medical Center.

    Students interested in pursuing careers as RNs in Oregon can explore many program opportunities across colleges and universities in the state. These students can also explore the process of becoming an RN in Oregon.


  • Alaska

    In Alaska, registered nurses (RNs) enjoy a high annual salary of $90,500, with nurses in the 10th percentile experiencing annual mean wages of $61,060 and those in the 90th percentile taking home an annual mean wage of $122,400. RNs can explore the highest salary opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

    Alaska features an employment level of 6,210 RNs. RNs can experience the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs in hospital settings. Some of the highest performing hospitals in the state include Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital, and Bartlett Regional Hospital.

    Students interested in learning how to become RNs can pursue program options at some of Alaska’s best colleges and universities. These learners can also review resources to learn more about the process of becoming an RN in the state.


  • Nevada

    Registered nurses (RNs) interested in exploring high-paying career opportunities can consider basing their nursing career in Nevada. RNs in the state enjoy annual mean wages of $88,380. Professionals practicing in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $65,190, and those in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $119,290.

    Nevada employs 22,940 RNs, with hospitals featuring the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs. Nurses can explore some of the most lucrative employment opportunities at St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena Campus, Renown Regional Medical Center, and AMG Specialty Hospital-Las Vegas.

    Learners can research the requirements of how to become an RN in Nevada, including information about the licensing process. Degree-seekers can also explore some of the best degree options for the discipline.


  • New York

    Registered nurses (RNs) in New York experience some of the highest-paying opportunities in the field, enjoying annual mean wages of $87,840. Professionals in the 10th percentile of the occupation experience annual mean wages of $56,9800, while those in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $123,860.

    New York boasts the third-highest employment levels for the occupation, with 178,320 RNs in the state. These nurses can explore the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels within hospital settings. Some of the main hospitals in the state include NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NYU Langone Hospitals, and Mount Sinai Hospital.

    The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY, NJ, PA area offers the highest employment level for RNs in the metropolitan United States. Nursing students in the state can consider program opportunities to prepare them for careers as RNs and review resources on how to become an RN in the state, including information about licensing.


  • Washington

    Washington boasts a high annual mean wage for RNs of $86,170. Professionals in the state practicing in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $59,000, while nurses in the 90th percentile enjoy an annual mean wage of $120,010.

    Nurses who want to explore the job opportunities with the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels can look for employment within hospitals. Some of the top hospitals in Washington include the University of Washington Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and EvergreenHealth Kirkland. RNs in the state experience an employment level of 58,000.

    Students who want to pursue nursing careers in the state should explore program options in online and on-campus formats. These learners can also review the process of becoming an RN in the state, including licensing requirements.


  • New Jersey

    Nurses in New Jersey experience high annual wage amounts of $84,280. In the 10th percentile, these nurses experience annual mean wages of $62,360. Nurses in the 90th percentile enjoy an annual mean wage of $109,210. RNs can pursue the highest-paying career opportunities in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

    New Jersey employs 80,140 RNs. Hospitals feature the highest concentration of jobs and the highest employment levels for the occupation. The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metropolitan area offers the highest employment levels in the field.

    Nursing professionals can explore job opportunities across several esteemed hospitals in the state, including Morristown Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, and St. Barnabas Medical Center.

    Degree-seekers interested in becoming RNs in New Jersey should research the pathway to becoming an RN in the state, including the licensing process. Aspiring nurses can also explore many program options to reach their professional goals in New Jersey.


  • Connecticut

    Enjoying annual mean wages of $83,440, registered nurses (RNs) in Connecticut experience some of the highest salary opportunities in the field. These nurses experience annual mean wages of $60,010 in the 10th percentile and $111,520 in the 90th percentile. RNs interested in the highest-paying job opportunities for their occupation can consider the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

    Connecticut businesses currently employ 34,740 RNs. Hospitals feature the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels for the occupation. Some of the top Connecticut hospitals include Yale New Haven Hospital, Hartford Hospital, and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

    Any learners interested in becoming RNs in Connecticut can look to NurseJournal.org to explore the degree opportunities in the discipline, along with more information about the process to become an RN, including licensing requirements.


  • Rhode Island

    With an annual mean wage of $82,310, nurses in Rhode Island enjoy some of the highest salary opportunities in the state. Registered nurses (RNs) in Rhode Island working in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $58,990, while professionals in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $103,770. Nurses who want to pursue careers in the highest-paying industry for the profession can seek employment in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry.

    Nurses working in Rhode Island experience an employment level of 12,630. The state features the fourth-highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for the occupation in the United States. Professionals can find the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs within hospital settings, including Miriam Hospital, Butler Hospital, and Eleanor Slater Hospital.

    NurseJournal.org allows nursing students to explore the available online and on-campus program opportunities in the state. The site also enables users to explore the requirements to become an RN in the state, including information on licensing.


  • Minnesota

    Nurses who want to explore career opportunities in one of the highest-paying states for the field can consider working in Minnesota. Nurses in the state enjoy high annual mean wages of $80,130, with those in the 10th percentile experiencing annual mean wages of $57,070 and nurses in the 90th percentile enjoying annual mean wages of $105,010.

    RNs practicing in Minnesota experience employment levels of 71,000. The Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI metropolitan area offers one of the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels for the occupation. The La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN metropolitan area boasts some of the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients.

    Degree-seekers can consider both online and on-campus nursing program opportunities across several colleges and universities in Minnesota and can review how to become an RN in the state, including what licensing requirements they must meet.


  • Arizona

    With 54,950 registered nurses employed in Arizona, hospitals make up the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs for the occupation. In Arizona, some of the best hospitals include Mayo Clinic-Phoenix, Banner Boswell Medical Center, and Banner University Medical Center Phoenix.

    Nurses in the state enjoy some of the highest salary opportunities, with annual mean wages of $78,330. Nurses working in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages amounts of $56,020, and those in the 90th percentile experience annual mean wages of $101,870. The pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry offers the highest wage opportunities for RNs.

    Nursing students can explore NurseJournal.org to learn more about the degree opportunities available to them in Arizona and to better understand the process of becoming an RN in the state, including licensing requirements.


  • Maryland

    Maryland features an employment of 53,150 registered nurses (RNs), with the highest concentration of jobs and employment levels found within hospital settings. Some of the top hospitals for nurses to consider in Maryland include John Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

    Nurses working in Maryland enjoy some of the highest salary opportunities for the occupation, earning a mean wage of $77,910 each year. Nurses in the 10th percentile experience annual mean wages of $55,400 and RNs in the 90th percentile enjoy annual mean wages of $102,490.

    Degree-seekers should review information about the best nursing programs in Maryland and learn more about how to become an RN in the state.


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