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The Top 5 Highest Paying States for RNs

Like most career paths, nursing salaries vary across the United States depending on socioeconomics. Where you live influences how much money you can make.  

You may be wondering, “should I move to gain a higher wage?” This article will help you answer that question, provide you with the top five states by salary, and help you understand why wages differ across the country.  

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Top 5 States for a lucrative RN career 

  1. California

California offers the highest wages for their Registered Nurses at $90,000 a year. It also has the most regulated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. California is different from any other state when it comes to equal staffing ratios, and often nurses go on strike if hospitals are not following the recommended ratios. 

  1. Hawaii

The beautiful state of Hawaii is also a place for nurses to make a lot of money. And, think of all the family and friends who would visit! The average wage in Hawaii starts around $84,750. 

  1. Oregon

With amazing hiking trails and scenic views, Oregon is a beautiful place to live and work. 

It ranks high for RN wages, with RNs nurses making an average of $82,940.00/year 

  1. Massachusetts

Massachusetts ranks in the top five for highest RN wages. It currently employs 79,500 nurses throughout the state and has many job openings. This state has 78 hospitals within their borders and ranks number 20 in the US for the number of hospitals within the state. 

  1. Washington DC

Washington DC, a bustling city, comes in #3 for highest nursing salaries. Nurses in DC make $75,790 in their yearly wages on average. Because DC is in the heart of our federal government, there are some unique, lucrative opportunities there too.   

Why Higher? 

Nursing salaries differ due to location. If you live in a metropolitan area, your wage will be higher due to the cost of living. Some states can pay higher because of the healthcare business culture. 

Additionally, if you specialize in a particular field, hold a certification and/or BSN, your salary will be slightly higher. And, don’t forget experience counts. Nurses that have worked for years in a specialty will have a higher wage than a new graduate. 

Should you move? 

Just because you can make a higher wage doesn’t mean you should start packing. Nurses must think about the reasons they want a higher wage. Do you want more things? Are you saving for something? Do you live for experiences? 

Maybe you should consider travel nursing, which offers higher wages without permanently moving. Travel nursing is a perfect solution to test the waters in various locations to see which place fits your lifestyle. Be sure to consider the cost of living before you accept a new job. It’s easy only to see the dollar signs. 

Priorities come first when it comes to your nursing career. It’s fun to see if your state makes the list of highest paid nurses. But in reality, you must work in a place that is suitable for you and your family.  

Gain experience and additional education to become marketable throughout the nation. Because of the nursing shortage and flexibility of the nursing career, you will never be without a job.  

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The Top 5 Highest Paying States for RNs
Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.