Tips & Advice

Best States for a Nursing Career

Tips & AdviceJuly 13, 2016

Nursing is a great career for some people, for any number of reasons. If you’re thinking of attending nursing school, or enrolling in an online nursing programs, or perhaps tackling RN to BSN, you may be interested in learning more about your prospects for meaningful employment, based on location.

Some states are arguably better than others when it comes to a career in nursing. But how best to determine which is which? Various factors affect the decision to practice nursing in a given state, of course. Here are a few of those factors, with some top final destination suggestions.

All About the Benjamins

Few nurses go into nursing solely because they see dollar signs. Most students are motivated by slightly higher ideals, hopefully. But salary is certainly a factor that can help determine the attractiveness of a given job. And nurses certainly deserve to be paid well. As a nurse, you’ll be assuming some hefty responsibility, and you will be called upon to juggle multiple tasks, with virtually zero margin for error.

You will also have invested substantial time and money in your education. While you may think of your wages as money for services rendered, employers are also paying for your expertise, even when there’s downtime. That’s what being a professional is about; sharing your knowledge, skills, and experience appropriately. That said, which states pay the highest wages to nursing professionals?

In 2016, the states with the highest hourly pay for nurses were the following:

1) California 
2) Hawaii
3) Massachusetts
4) New Jersey
5) Alaska

But hourly pay is only part of the picture. You also need to factor in cost of living. For example, Hawaii may sound like paradise with its perennially agreeable climate and sandy beaches, but it’s also isolated from the rest of the world, travel is expensive, and the local cost of living, including housing and food expenditures, is among the nation’s highest.

Highest annual wages for nurses (in light of local cost of living):

1) Texas
2) Michigan
3) Nevada
4) Idaho
5) New Mexico

But, wait. There’s even more to consider. How many nursing jobs are available, for instance? Factoring job opportunities yields the following list of most attractive states for nurses.

States with the most nursing jobs available:

1) Washington
2) Colorado
3) Minnesota
4) Wisconsin
5) Texas

If job availability is your primary concern, take a look at Oklahoma, New Mexico, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

As you can see, there’s more to weigh when considering relocation than mere wages alone. Cost of living, commute times, incentive bonuses, relocation packages, local culture, and other factors all come into play. The tropics may sound like paradise, but if jobs are few and far between, and cost of living is out of this world (if not the continental United States) you’d do well to think carefully about the bigger, long-term employment picture. Know thyself is salient advice. Do you long for sun and beaches, and wide open skies, or short commutes, longer shifts, and higher pay? All of these factors may be germane to your final decision.