Are you considering a career as a nurse? Have you already begun your nursing career but are considering changing roles?

If any of the above questions describe you, have you wondered, “Where do nurses make the most money?”

If you’re looking to increase your income, you may want to consider taking a job in one of the states or metro areas that pay nurses the most

Whether you’re looking to change employers or just want to try out a new location with a travel nurse gig, there’s no doubt that income potential plays a significant role in a career decision. So let’s learn where nurses earn the most. 

In this article, you will learn:  

  • Best paying states for nurses
  • Top five paying states for nurses
  • What contributes to the different nurse pay by state; and
  • More


what state pays nurses the most


Table of Contents



What Are the Highest Paying States for Nurses?

Location is essential, and nurse salaries vary widely by state, but what state pays nurses the most? 

California is the leader but is closely followed by: 

  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • District of Columbia; and
  • Alaska

In the next section, we’ll take a look at each state to learn which nurses are in demand and how much they’re making. 

5 Top Paying States for Nurses in the U.S.

#1: California

Registered nurses in California earn the highest salaries in the nation. 

California has the most registered nurses of any state in the country, with over 300,000 currently employed.

RNs earn an average annual salary of $120,560, with an average hourly wage of $57.96. The state of California earns 56 percent more than the national average. 

Aside from California’s significant income earning potential, another thing that makes nursing unique in the state is the Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Law

According to this California law, there must be at least one RN for every five patients in general care and one RN per two patients in intensive care units or critical care facilities.

As well as being the highest-paid state for nurses working as RNs, California is the second-highest paying state for nurses working as LPNs. 

A licensed practical nurse generally earns $64,000, which is 27.95% more than the national average for LPNs in other states.  

As with RNs and LPns, nursing midwives in California have the highest salaries at $159,950 per year.

#2: Hawaii

Hawaii is the second-highest paying state for registered nurses. 

RNs earn an average annual salary of $104,830, with an average hourly wage of $50.40. RNs in the state of Hawaii earn 24 percent more than the national average. 

Currently, Hawaii has over 11,260 registered nurses, but that number is expected to rise by over 12% by 2028, creating almost 1,420 new RN positions.

Hawaii is not only the second highest-paying state for nurses working as registered nurses but is also the fourth highest-paying state for certified nursing assistants. 

CNAs generally earn $38,650 per year, 20.59% more than the national average for CNAs in other states. 

#3: Oregon

Oregon, which has approximately 36,840 RNs currently working, is next on the list. 

A registered nurse earns an average annual salary of $98,630 and an average hourly wage of $46.27. RNs in Oregon earn about 20 percent more than the national average. 

CNAs in Oregon are also among the top four highest paid in the nation. Certified nursing assistants earn an average salary of $18.78 per hour. As a CNA, you can make from $28,000 to $40,000 per year, depending on how much you work overtime.   

Certified registered nurse anesthetists in Oregon earn more than in any other state. CRNAs in Oregon make an average of $113.70 per hour or $236,540 per year.

#4: District of Columbia

Coming in at number four is the District of Columbia, where 10,890 RNs are employed.

In the District of Columbia, a registered nurse earns an average annual salary of $96,000 and an average hourly wage of $45.59. RNs in the District of Columbia make about 15 to 20 percent more than the national average. 

LPNs in the District of Columbia are also among the top five highest-paid in the nation. Licensed practical nurses earn an approximate annual salary of $53,370 per year.    

#5: Alaska

Alaska rounds out the top five with approximately 6,200 RNs employed.

RNs in Alaska earn an average annual salary of $95,000 with an hourly wage of $45.80. This is higher than roughly 19 percent of the national average. 

Certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse practitioners in Alaska are among the five highest-paid in the nation. Certified nurse anesthetists earn an annual salary of $187,690, and certified nurse practitioners earn a yearly salary of $122,880.

In Alaska, certified nursing assistants are also among the highest-paid. Nurse assistants in Alaska earn an average of $18.86 per hour and $4,500 in overtime with an annual salary of around $40,000.


top five paying states for nurses


What Contributes to the Difference in Salaries Among the Top Paying States for Nurses?

There are different salary ranges for nurses in each state due to:

  • Cost of living
  • Job demand; and 
  • Educational requirements 

Here are the factors contributing to salary differences and why they do so. 

Cost of Living

The cost of living index measures how much a dollar is worth in a particular state for groceries, housing, and transportation.

The cost of living index is higher in areas where these goods are more expensive than the national average; the cost of living index is lower in areas where these goods are cheaper.

For example, at 119.3, Hawaii sits at the top of the list, while Mississippi is at the bottom with 87.8. This is what makes Hawaii a higher paying state for nurses.

Job Demand

The term “job demand” is a statement that conveys the projected rate of growth or decline in an occupation over the next several years. 

The United States has an aging population, making health professionals increasingly needed. Over the next several years, healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, will account for a large percentage of job growth in the United States.

Over the next decade, there will be an average of 194,500 nursing job openings annually. It is expected that many of these openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or leave the labor force, such as retirees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of jobs for all healthcare occupations will grow by 18% by 2026, the highest among all occupational groups in the country to provide proper care for the aging and sick.

Education Requirements:

A nurse’s education determines their roles, responsibilities, and pay.

Nurses can enter the profession in a variety of ways. A registered nurse, for example, usually needs a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Still, there are other ways to become one, such as an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program. 

Nurses with a BSN have completed more schooling than those with an ADN or diploma and are more likely to earn more. 

In addition, a registered nurse who is an anesthetist, a nurse-midwife, or a nurse practitioner is called an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). These nurses require the most education (a master’s degree) and earn the highest wages of all nursing occupations.


what state are nurses paid the highest


How Can You Get a Nursing Job in a Higher Paying State?

Want to work as a nurse in a state that pays better? The following are four methods for finding your dream job.

Online Job Postings

Online resources are becoming increasingly popular among job seekers. You can even find job listings specific to your needs using the filter option.

Career Fairs

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare employers hire hundreds of nurses at career fairs every year.

Attending a career fair has the following benefits: 

  • Seminars and workshops that are free of charge
  • Learn industry information
  • Having your resume reviewed
  • Learn to present your professional side; and
  • Immediate access to employment opportunities

The purpose of attending a career fair is to network, not to interview — getting hired on the spot should not be your goal. 

When attending a career fair, your goal should be to: 

  • Introduce yourself to different people
  • Tell them about your background; and
  • Get their contact information  

Travel Nursing Agency

Are you interested in traveling as a nurse? The per diem nursing option appeals to some people because of its flexibility. 

With a travel nursing career, you’ll always be in demand, with assignments available at all times. However, if a travel nurse agency does not employ you, it may be more difficult to land these assignments. 

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you can find temporary jobs that give you flexibility and the opportunity to travel.

When short-term staffing needs arise at health care facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities, travel nurses and health professionals fill in. 

Why should you choose us? We provide reliable, experienced assistance with finding work and supporting you in your role. 


highest paying rn jobs by state


Trusted Nurse Staffing: Contact Us to Find High Paying Travel Nursing Jobs Available All Over the United States

Trusted Nurse Staffing knows all there is to know about the nursing world. 

Our goal is to provide our travel nurses with great jobs that include excellent benefits and pay. We care about our nurses and are here to help you through every step, day or night. 

Our nurses know that we are on their side. Trusted Nurse Staffing provides nurses with: 

  • Welcome packages
  • 24/7 access to their Trusted Partner
  • Referral bonus programs; and
  • More 

Now is the time to begin the journey to your dream job with Trusted Nurse Staffing. 


highest paying rn jobs by state