What Are The Registered Nurse Salaries By State?

Registered nurses occupy a privileged position from both a social and economic standpoint. You might not have the highest salary in the United States, but you can expect your wage to keep pace with the cost of living.

If you’re tackling the idea of becoming a nurse, knowing what are the registered nurse salaries by the state is essential though.

Not only you can figure out whether it’s convenient for you to practice this career in your state, but you can also choose what states you’d like to work in if you’re considering relocating for a better-paying job.

How Much Does A Registered Nurse Make?

Nursing is not only a growing field; it’s also a good paying one. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth of 14.8% by 2026. If you’re wondering what salary to expect, here’s an overview of the average registered nurse salary by state, as last reported by the BLS.

StateMean Annual WageMean Hourly Wage
District of Columbia$92,350$44.40
Idaho$67,110        $32.26
New Hampshire$72,760$34.98
New Jersey$82,750$39.78
New Mexico$71,730$34.49
New York$85,610$41.16
North Carolina$64,850$31.18
North Dakota$65,740$31.61
Puerto Rico$34,940$16.80
Rhode Island$78,420$37.70
South Carolina$64,940$31.22
South Dakota$58,340$28.05
Virgin Islands$61,550$29.59
Washington$82,670        $39.75
West Virginia$61,780$29.70

A quick look at the table above reveals that the top five best-paying states are California ($106,920), Hawaii (98,080), the District of Columbia ($92,350), Massachusetts ($92,140), and Oregon ($91.080).

However, the actual salary will also be determined by the industry and city you work in.

What Are The Top Paying Cities For Registered Nurses?

With California being the top paying state for this occupation, it only makes sense that the top-paying cities are in this state.

If your career choice is driven by the economic factor, you could consider a job in one of these metropolitan areas:

  • Salinas – average salary: $131,710
  • San Francisco – average salary: $128,990
  • San Jose – average salary: $128,610
  • Santa Cruz – average salary: $127,440
  • Sacramento – average salary: $120,530

What Are The Top Paying Industries For Registered Nurses?

The industry you choose to work in can also make a difference in terms of compensation. You can score a higher salary if you manage to secure a job in the:

  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing: Registered nurses have an average annual salary of $95,400 and a mean hourly wage of $45.87 at the national level.
  • Federal executive branches: You can expect an average annual salary of $89,430 and an hourly wage of $42.99.
  • Business schools and computer and management training schools: A registered nurse can earn $85,920 on average. The mean hourly salary in this industry is $41.31.
  • Aerospace products and parts manufacturing: The average annual wage is $84,530, while you can expect to earn $40.64 per hour.
  • Legal services: Registered nurses working in the law industry can earn $82,790 on average, with an hourly wage of $39.80.

While these are top-paying industries, securing a job as a registered nurse in these sectors is really hard. As you can imagine, the highest level of employment for this occupation is offered by general medical and surgical hospitals, offices of physicians, home health care services, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care centers.

Specialty, psychiatric, and substance abuse hospitals also have a high concentration of registered nurse jobs.

What Is The Average RN Salary Compared To Other Related Jobs?

If you’re aiming for the highest salary, perhaps you should also consider continuing your education to become a nurse practitioner or choose a nursing related career.

Indeed, the average annual wage of a registered nurse is $71,730 at a national level. The highest 10% earn $106,530 on average, while the lowest 10% make only $50,800 a year. In comparison, the other related professions have average salaries highlighted below:

  • Licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse: Licensed practical or vocational nurses are at the low-end spectrum of the nursing professions. You can expect to earn $47,050 per year on average, but the educational path is shorter.
  • Nurse practitioner: Nurse practitioners have higher education and more responsibilities than a registered nurse, and you can expect to earn $110,030 per year on average.
  • Nurse midwife: Another higher-paying nursing position is that of nurse midwife. The average annual salary is $106,910.
  • Nurse anesthetist: This is the top-rated nursing profession, with an average annual salary of $174,790.
  • Physician assistant: A physician assistant also earns more than a registered nurse, with an average annual salary of $108,430. While the educational path is different, the responsibilities are related to those of a nurse.

With this in mind, becoming a registered nurse truly pays off. If you’d like to earn more, you could simply consider advancing in your career, or choosing a different educational path to become a physician assistant rather than a nurse.

While the average annual salary can vary widely from one state to another, remember that they comply with the cost of living in each particular state.

So, what do you think? Is the salary range of a registered nurse fair, or do you believe they are underpaid?