What Nurses Earn in Every State

If you're a nurse, you're in a growth industry. Here is a look at how your location will affect the size of your paycheck

Nurse with elderly woman.Alexander Raths / Shutterstock.com

Nurses on the front line of health care. They’re often the first people you see during a visit to a doctor’s office and the people you have the most contact with in a hospital. Their work is fairly well-compensated, and the industry is growing rapidly.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there 2.86 million registered nurses across the country, pulling down a mean annual salary of $72,180 per year. But the number varies greatly depending on where the nurse practices — and so does the cost of living in those places.

Here’s what nurses earn in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ranked from lowest to highest.

51. South Dakota

South Dakota capitol building in Pierre.Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com


Average salary for a registered nurse: $55,920 per year

Although it ranks lowest in average pay for nurses, South Dakota — pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country — is also in the middle for cost of living among the U.S. states.

50. Iowa

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $56,290 per year

49. Alabama

Hospital corridor scene.Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $56,900 per year

That doesn’t sound like huge income, but it will stretch farther in Alabama than in many places. According to a report by MSN, Alabama is the second-cheapest state in which to buy a house, with the average listing price at $203,000 in 2016.

48. Mississippi

All Stock Photos / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $57,010 per year

Not too bad if you consider that the “Magnolia State” has the lowest cost of living among the 50 U.S. states according to the MSN report’s ranking, citing data from Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The average house is listed for about $183,000.

47. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas skylineHenryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $57,630 per year

46. Kansas

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $58,260 per year

45. Tennessee

Street scene, Memphis, Tennessee.f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $58,410 per year

44. West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West VirginiaAndrei Medvedev / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $59,380 per year

43. Kentucky

Nurses around a table.Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $59,810 per year

42. Indiana

Floyd Memorial Hospital in Albany, Indiana.Thomas Kelley / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,050 per year

41. Nebraska

Steve O’Donnell / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,370 per year

40. Oklahoma

digidreamgrafix / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,630 per year

39. Missouri

Lane V. Erickson / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,830 per year

38. North Dakota

Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,840 per year

North Dakota may seem a far-flung place to work, but it had the fastest-growing population among the 50 states in 2016, following the District of Columbia, with an increase of 12.69 percent.

37. North Carolina

Kevin M. McCarthy / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $61,330 per year

North Carolina has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, in part because of rapid tech-sector expansion, but the cost of living remains on the more reasonable end of the spectrum. The health care industry makes up 12 percent of the state’s employment, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

36. Utah

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,360 per year

35. Idaho

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,470 per year

34. Wyoming

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,980 per year

33. Louisiana

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,370 a year

The Pelican State has an average home listing price of $224,895, though buying a house in vibrant New Orleans would likely cost well above that average.

32. South Carolina

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,470 per year

31. Maine

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,800 per year

30. Ohio

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,960 per year

29. Montana

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,300 per year

28. Florida

Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,630 per year

27. Georgia

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,750 per year

26. Virginia

Medical staff in parade in Gloucester, Virginia.Barry Blackburn / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $66,670 per year

25. Vermont

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $67,780 per year

24. Wisconsin

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $67,930 per year

Wisconsin nurses are ranked in the top half, nationally, in terms of pay with an average salary of $67,930 per year. Meanwhile, the Badger State ranks several rungs below the center in terms of cost of living.

23. New Mexico

Tim Pleasant / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $68,670 per year

22. New Hampshire

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $68,680 per year

21. Pennsylvania

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $68,770 per year

20. Michigan

Hospital in Flint, MichiganJames R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,100 per year

19. Texas

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $70,390 per year

18. Colorado

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $70,550 per year

17. Delaware

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $70,820 per year

16. Illinois

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $70,890 per year

15. Arizona

Medical center in Phoenixvewfinder / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $73,430 per year

14. Minnesota

Mayo Clinic, Rochester Minn.HixnHix / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $73,940 per year

13. Maryland

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $74,710 per year

12. Rhode Island

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $75,200 per year

11. Connecticut

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $78,270 per year

10. Washington

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $80,120 per year

9. Washington, D.C.

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $80,500 per year

8. New Jersey

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $80,580 per year

7. New York

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $80,830 per year

6. Nevada

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $83,790 per year

5. Alaska

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $86,450 per year

4. Oregon

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $87,000 per year

3. Hawaii

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $88,910 per year

2. Massachusetts

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $89,060 per year

1. California

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Average salary for a registered nurse: $101,750 per year

What is your experience with nurses? What do you think they should be paid? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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