Some nurses may be slightly embarrassed to talk about why the salary matters when choosing a job in the profession. Of course, people go into nursing because it’s one of the caring professions where we can still truly help people. But it’s also a job that offers lucrative pay and benefits, offering security even when the economy takes a downturn. In fact, nurse.com says that nursing salaries are on the rise and have been for the last two years. As Baby Boomers put more strain on our nation’s clinical care networks, nurses will increasingly be called upon to provide services in a variety of specialty area. According to nurse.com, the need for qualified nurses is expected to grow by 16% through 2024, which is much faster than other occupations.
Nurses have a variety of choices in specialty areas, but they also have choices when it comes to the state in which they’ll work. It won’t come as a surprise that some states offer better pay than others. Here’s which states came out on top this year for the best nursing salaries in the nation.
These States Offer Better Pay for Nurses
The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently came out with their average earnings for nurses by state. At the bottom of the list are more rural states that offer spectacular open spaces, but a lower cost of living than other more populated, urban settings.
For example, the worst state for nurses’ salaries right now is lovely, scenic South Dakota where the average nurse salary tops just over $57,000, or an hourly rate of just $27.41. Could this rate increase? It’s possible because the projected nursing shortage suggests that the value of these professionals could continue to shift hiring trends in their favor. The need for nurses remains high; projections suggest we’ll need another 203,700 new RNs each year up to 2026. Could this force even Mississippi, who came in as the second worse state in the nation for nurses salaries (median $57,890 annually), to offer better pay? The chances are likely that even the states that seem to be falling behind could improve over the next few years.
Now let’s look at states that were in the mid-range of the BLS annual survey of nursing salaries. This includes Ohio, who ironically is also geographically in the middle of the pack. According to the BLS, Ohio nurses average $65,500, or $31.39 hourly. Maine falls just behind Ohio, with an average salary of $65,890, and Montana is at an average salary of $66,280. Georgia nurses average a bit more, at $66,750 or $32.09 an hour followed by Virginia at $67,990.
But the states with the best nurse salaries are, interestingly, a geographic mix, of west coast to east and even as far north as you can get. The top 10 best states for high nursing salaries include:
- #10 is Connecticut, with an average RN salary of $80,200, or $38.56 per hour.
- #9 is New Jersey, with an average RN salary of $82,010, or $39.43 per hour.
- #8 is New York, with an average nurse salary of $83,450, or $40.12 per hour.
- #7 is Nevada, where the average nurse’s salary is $84,930, or $40.86 per hour.
- #6 is Alaska, which has a median nurse salary listed as $87,510, or $42.07 per hour.
- #5 is Oregon, where the average RN salary stands at $88,770, or $42.68 per hour.
- #4 is MAS Medical’s home state of Massachusetts, where the average RN salary is $89,330, or $42.95 an hour.
- #3 is our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia, where the average RN salary is $90,110, or $43.32 per hour.
- #2 is Hawaii, where the average nurse salary is $96,990, or $46.63 per hour.
- #1 is California, where nurses make, on average, $102,700, or $49.37 per hour.
To find out more about the average nurse salary in your region, contact MAS Medical today.