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Ranking 30th for nursing salaries in the U.S., Montana nurses enjoy an active, outdoors-focused lifestyle and affordable cost of living that balances the lower income. Registered nurses (RNs) in the state earn an annual mean wage of $73,600. However, a recent report from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers indicates that salaries for nurses are increasing in Montana.
Montana has one of the lowest population densities in the U.S, behind only Alaska and Wyoming, so there are fewer employment opportunities than in more densely populated states. However, the strain created by the COVID-19 pandemic, an older workforce nearing retirement, and an aging population continue to create additional opportunities in the field. Keep reading to learn more about what it's like to work as an RN in Montana.
- Average Montana RN Salary: $73,610 (Ranks 30th among all states)
- Hourly Montana RN Salary: $35.39
- Projected Montana RN Employment Growth (2018-2028): 10.4%
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Average RN Salaries in Montana
RNs in Montana earn an average of $35.39 per hour, or $73,600 per year. Although the state ranks in the bottom half of states in terms of earnings, it is on par with the neighboring states of Wyoming, Idaho, and North Dakota. However, Montana RNs earn significantly more than those in South Dakota, where the average salary reaches only $60,500.
The bottom 10% of nurses earn an average of $60,320 per year. The top 10% earn more than $97,260 annually. Education, experience, specialization, and specific employer influence an RN's earning potential.
|Percentile||Average Annual RN Salary||Average Hourly RN Salary|
Montana RN Salary, Adjusted for Cost of Living
Accurately evaluating salaries in any field requires comparing pay to the cost of living in that area. The more expensive it is to live in a city or state, the higher the pay. Taking into account the price of housing, transportation, food, medical care, education, recreation, and other goods and services provides a better picture of how well a particular job pays.
The cost of living in Montana is 10.9% lower than the U.S. average, largely thanks to the state's low property taxes and no sales tax. Trends often take longer to reach Big Sky Country, compared to cosmopolitan regions on either coast. Here, residents focus on practicality. The smaller population, rugged terrain, and sometimes extreme weather require a degree of self-sufficiency, without many of the amenities offered in big cities.
Montana is more expensive to live in than other rural areas, but remains significantly cheaper than the northeast or west coast. When adjusted for the cost of living, the average RN salary in Montana jumps to $79,204, ranking it 22nd in the nation.
- Average RN Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living: $79,204 (Ranks 22nd among all states)
- Cost of Living Index (RPP): 89.1 (10.9% less than the U.S. average)
Highest-Paying Cities for RNs in Montana
While many people move to Montana in search of wide-open spaces, much of the state's population lives in its cities. Three of the largest metropolitan areas, Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula, pay significantly higher average salaries for RNs in Montana. Nurses are in greater demand in these urban hospitals, and the cost of living in the cities is typically higher than in other parts of the state. In fact, more than 80% of people working in Montana's cities commute from the outlying areas because affordable housing is harder to find.
Montana suits those who enjoy hunting, fishing, and winter sports, as well as hiking, mountain biking, and camping. The state also hosts more than 50 breweries for craft beer enthusiasts.
|City||Average RN Salary|
|Great Falls, MT||$114,280|
Average Salaries for Other Nursing Roles in Montana
Nurses in the earliest stages of their careers earn average wages in Montana. Nursing assistants make a median salary of $32,050, while licensed practical nurses/vocational nurses (LPN/LVN) earn about $48,300. Earning a master of science in nursing degree and becoming a nurse practitioner can bring a median salary of $115,710.
- Nursing Assistants: $32,050
- LPN/LVNs: $48,300
- Nurse Practitioners: $115,710
Methodology and Sources
Registered nursing salary data by state is collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, released on March 31, 2022. Data reflects RN salaries as of May 2021. The highest-paying cities and states for RNs are ranked by average annual salary.
Cost-of-living data is collected from the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis real personal income for states and metropolitan areas, released on December 14, 2021. RN salary adjusted for cost of living is calculated by multiplying each state's RN salary by its regional price parity (RPP). RPP measures differences in the cost of goods and services in a region compared to national prices.
Projected employment growth data by state is collected from Projections Central.
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