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Nursing Salaries and Hiring Outlook

Nursing is a helping profession, allowing nurses to make a difference in patients’ day-to-day lives and care with the potential to earn competitive salaries. While the average salary for nurses in a state can be a helpful metric, the salary you might earn depends on several factors. These factors include location, experience level, education level, and any professional nursing certifications and licenses held. Additional influences on nursing salary include shift differentials (night shift nurses may receive extra compensation), the type of employer, the individual’s negotiation skills, and the individual’s role on a care team. Continue reading to learn more about how these factors impact pay for nurses and find more resources on nursing salary, including a state-by-state breakdown of registered nurse salary by state.

How Much Do Nurses Make?

At the post-secondary certificate level, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) earn an average annual salary of $44,090.1 At the associate’s to bachelor’s degree level, registered nurses (RNs) earn an average annual salary of $68,450.2 At the master’s degree level, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of $107,460.3

Geographic area also impacts nurse salary expectations at all levels. Using RNs as an example, as of 2016, the highest-paying state for RNs was California, at an average of $101,750 per year.4 The state where RNs made the lowest annual average salary was Iowa, at $56,290.4 Specialty, which may or may not include certification from a national organization, also has an impact on nurse salary; according to the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing, there are over 100 distinct nursing specialties from which to choose.5 Below you will find an overview of how education, license, and practice areas can impact a nurse’s expected earning potential.

RoleTypical Highest Education Level AchievedNumber Employed in the USAverage Annual Openings10-Year Job GrowthAverage Salary
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses1,8Post-secondary certificate (43%)724,5008,89012%$44,090
Nurse Anesthetists3,6Master’s degree (77%)39,86068014%$164,030
Nurse Assistants9,10High school diploma (60%)1,564,30017,77011%$26,590
Nurse Midwives3,11Master’s degree (78%)6,50013016.7%$99,770
Nurse Practitioners3,12Master’s degree (83%)155,5005,61026.6%$100,910
Registered Nurses2,13Associate’s degree (66%)2,955,20043,81015%$68,450

Registered Nurse Salary by State

The following sortable table provides several useful data points about registered nurse salary, outlook, and cost of living in each state. We used registered nurses as a proxy since RNs are the most numerous by role in the US, with an estimated 2,955,200 RNs in the workforce as of 2016.2 The best states for nurses are ranked according to the percentage of a median home that the average annual salary buys and the 10-year projected growth rate. You can sort any column by clicking on the column header. You can also click on your state to learn more about schools with nursing programs in your state. Also be sure to visit our licensing guide for information on typical requirements.

RankStateUS AverageRegistered Nurse Mean Salary (2016)2$73,550Zillow Home Value Index (2018)14$210,200% of Zillow Home Value Average Salary Buys35%Registered Nurses Employed (2014)152,751,000Projected Registered Nurses Employed (2024)153,190,30010-Year Growth Rate (2014-
2024)1516%
Best States for
Registered
Nurses(Avg=1)1.00
1Kentucky$61,530$139,40044%45,09061,13036%1.56
2Texas$72,070$175,80041%197,270258,88031%1.42
3Indiana$62,450$126,60049%59,05070,19019%1.34
4West Virginia$60,380$103,50058%21,32023,0908%1.31
5Oklahoma$61,640$116,90053%31,16035,45014%1.30
6Tennessee$60,050$148,30040%55,45069,09025%1.28
7Ohio$65,500$131,40050%129,550147,32014%1.25
8Arkansas$58,810$123,50048%22,20025,62015%1.24
9Mississippi$57,700$120,30048%28,31032,28014%1.22
10Michigan$69,120$139,90049%93,670105,29012%1.21
11Georgia$66,750$163,90041%68,20081,92020%1.19
12Iowa$57,930$132,60044%32,03037,26016%1.18
13North Carolina$62,560$167,90037%91,150111,49022%1.17
14Alabama$57,890$128,90045%45,92052,57014%1.17
15South Carolina$63,630$150,60042%41,57047,92015%1.13
16Missouri$63,300$146,40043%68,14077,37014%1.11
17Pennsylvania$69,820$163,90043%130,070148,24014%1.11
18Utah$63,050$266,50024%20,48027,15033%1.10
19North Dakota$63,140$201,50031%8,39010,44024%1.09
20New Mexico$69,840$182,50038%16,33019,10017%1.08
21Florida$64,890$220,60029%165,990207,93025%1.07
22Kansas$59,940$128,40047%27,87030,0908%1.07
23Arizona$75,110$235,20032%76,34093,28022%1.06
24Colorado$72,570$353,00021%44,84059,66033%1.05
25Montana$66,280$214,20031%9,77011,93022%1.04
26Nebraska$62,210$157,80039%22,62025,68014%1.04
27Illinois$72,090$170,80042%116,380128,59010%1.03
28Wyoming$64,900$202,50032%4,8505,80020%1.01
29Nevada$84,980$265,90032%19,96023,82019%1.01
30Wisconsin$69,200$170,50041%56,21061,5409%0.98
31Idaho$64,520$201,80032%13,32015,45116%0.94
32Minnesota$77,540$215,60036%56,75063,48012%0.94
33Louisiana$63,560$204,90031%41,94048,77016%0.93
34Maryland$75,250$274,00027%83,09099,49020%0.93
35New York$83,450$308,30027%183,210214,46017%0.87
36Delaware$73,180$268,70027%10,47012,21017%0.86
37South Dakota$57,010$181,80031%11,67013,09012%0.85
38New Hampshire$70,040$254,10028%12,59014,53015%0.84
39Oregon$88,770$323,20027%33,42038,38015%0.83
40Vermont$69,560$223,80031%6,6307,36011%0.83
41Alaska$87,510$273,80032%5,3605,90010%0.82
42Washington$79,810$359,10022%54,02064,63020%0.82
43Virginia$67,990$247,20028%63,09072,04014%0.82
44Maine$65,890$220,00030%14,62016,22011%0.80
45Rhode Island$76,650$270,60028%12,78014,25012%0.78
46New Jersey$82,010$313,20026%81,37092,13013%0.77
47Massachusetts$89,330$388,30023%81,26094,08016%0.76
48Connecticut$80,200$247,00032%33,57035,5806%0.75
49California$102,700$535,10019%256,000300,30017%0.72
50Hawaii$96,990$628,60015%10,90012,35013%0.56
51Washington DC$90,110$553,70016%10,94012,15011%0.54

Additional Resources

  • American Nurses Association – The ANA is a national membership-based organization that advocates for the nursing profession at all levels and provides career and workforce information.
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners – The AANP welcomes nurse practitioners from all specialties and offers professional and practice resources, including an annual salary survey.
  • O*NET OnLine – O*NET OnLine is sponsored by the Department of Labor and uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other federal and state sources to provide salary, job growth, and other detailed information for nursing-related specialties as well as other occupations.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
5. Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing: https://www.discovernursing.com/explore-specialties#.WrUZkZdGncs
6. O*NET OnLine, Nurse Anesthetists: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1151.00
8. O*NET OnLine, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2061.00
9. O*NET OnLine, Nursing Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-1014.00
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nursing Assistants and Orderlies: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm
11. O*NET OnLine, Nurse Midwives: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1161.00
12. O*NET OnLine, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1171.00
13. O*NET OnLine, Registered Nurses: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1141.00
14. Zillow.com: https://www.zillow.com/home-values/
15. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm