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.

Young women and a man nurse lined up, arms crossed.Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

This week is National Nurses Week — honoring the people who serve on the front lines of health care in the United States. Nurses are 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 tough, but fairly well-compensated, and the industry is growing rapidly.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there 2.9 million registered nurses across the country, pulling down an average 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: $57,010 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 roughly in the middle for cost of living among the U.S. states, according to a report by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

50. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi streetRex Wholster / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $57,700 per year

Not too bad if you consider that the “Magnolia State” has the lowest cost of living among the 50 U.S. states.

49. Alabama

Hospital corridor scene.Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $57,890 per year

That doesn’t sound like huge income, but it will stretch farther in Alabama than in many places — a state with the eighth-lowest cost of living.

48. Iowa

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $57,930 per year

47. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas skylineHenryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $58,810 per year

46. Kansas

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $59,940 per year

45. Tennessee

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

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

44. West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West VirginiaAndrei Medvedev / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $60,380 per year

43. Kentucky

Nurses around a table.Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $61,530 per year

42. Oklahoma

digidreamgrafix / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $61,640 per year

41. Nebraska

Steve O’Donnell / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,210 per year

40. Indiana

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

Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,450 per year

39. North Carolina

Kevin M. McCarthy / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $62,560 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.

38. Utah

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,050 per year

37. North Dakota

Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,140 per year

North Dakota may seem a far-flung place to work, but it had the second-fastest-growing population among the 50 states in 2017, following Texas, with an increase of 12.31 percent. Both those states lagged the District of Columbia, whose increase was 15.33 percent.

36. Missouri

Lane V. Erickson / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,300 per year

35. Louisiana

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,560 a year

34. South Carolina

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $63,630 per year

33. Idaho

Niyazz / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,520 per year

32. Florida

Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,890 per year

31. Wyoming

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $64,900 per year

30. Ohio

Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $65,500 per year

29. Maine

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $65,890 per year

28. Montana

Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $66,280 per year

27. Georgia

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $66,750 per year

26. Virginia

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

Average salary for a registered nurse: $67,990 per year

25. Michigan

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

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,120 per year

24. Wisconsin

Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,200 per year

Wisconsin nurses are ranked in the top half, nationally, in terms of pay with an average salary of $69,200 per year. Meanwhile, the Badger State ranks a bit below the center in terms of cost of living.

23. Vermont

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,560 per year

22. Pennsylvania

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,820 per year

21. New Mexico

Tim Pleasant / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $69,840 per year

20. New Hampshire

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $70,040 per year

19. Texas

cheng cheng / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $72,070 per year

18. Illinois

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $72,090 per year

17. Colorado

EdgeOfReason / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $72,570 per year

16. Delaware

GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $73,180 per year

15. Arizona

Medical center in Phoenixvewfinder / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $75,110 per year

14. Maryland

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $75,250 per year

13. Rhode Island

jejim / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $76,650 per year

12. Minnesota

Mayo Clinic, Rochester Minn.HixnHix / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $77,540 per year

11. Connecticut

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $80,200 per year

10. Washington

Punit Sharma Fotography / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $79,810 per year

9. New Jersey

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $82,010 per year

8. New York

UTBP / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $83,450 per year

7. Nevada

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $84,980 per year

6. Alaska

Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $87,510 per year

5. Oregon

Josemaria Toscano / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $88,770 per year

4. Massachusetts

Rsphotograph / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $89,330 per year

3. Washington, D.C.

Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $90,110 per year

2. Hawaii

emperorcosar / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $96,990 per year

1. California

Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

Average salary for a registered nurse: $102,700 per year

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

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