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annual mean wage of RNs by state
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The Best States to Work as a Nurse

Are you wrapping up your RN degree, leveling up with a Masters or specialty degree, or just considering moving to a new place? Here are a couple of ways to decide which states are most nurse-friendly.  

Which States Employ the Most Nurses?

This may come as no surprise, but the states with the largest economies and populations employ the most nurses and have the most job opportunities. In 2018 California alone had almost 300,000 registered nurses working. 

employment of RNs by state

If you were to review a US population density map you would get a similar concentration of people per state. As you want nurses to match the needs of each state, this is a good thing.

Highest Paying States for Nurses

How much you are paid as a nurse can vary dramatically based on your hospital, further licenses, years in the industry, etc. But if you were looking for a state that pays their nurses a higher annual salary on average, you might consider this map your guide. 

annual mean wage of RNs by state

Nurses living in coastal states (like Oregon, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts) earn the highest median salaries on average, however, there are a couple of outliers. Alaska and Hawaii both pay their nurses a higher mean wage. If you didn’t want to leave the continental US you could also consider Minnesota as stand out for average wages. 

Where Should You Live in 2030 as a Nurse?

One thing all of the states that currently employ many nurses and pay them well have in common is that they have a higher cost of living and a more crowded job market. What if you wanted to get ahead of this curve and make a bet on where nursing roles will be expanding in ten years? 

You might want to start by looking where a large section of the US population with growing medical needs is moving. According to the US Census, “one in every five residents will be retirement age” in 2030. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing projects that this growing population will mean a shortage of nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects the need for an additional 203,700 new RNs each year from 2016 to 2026 to fill newly created positions and to replace retiring nurses.

So where do we think the next market for nurses will be?

Where are retirees moving? 

While Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the current homes to some of the oldest median age citizens, that doesn’t mean that is where older Americans will be in the future. One great indicator of where further nursing jobs will be created is where retirees are settling down after empty-nesting.

states where retirees are moving

Hopefully you are interested in living in the South West or East, because retirees are headed there in droves. Classic snowbird states like Florida and Arizona continue to top the list, but more people are considering cost-effective alternatives.

Some of these states, like Nevada, already have a history of paying nurses higher median wages, but just don’t currently have as many nurses as larger states. They could be an interesting market to look into if you wanted to move to a state with a more reasonable cost of living.

Where Do Earnest RN’s Live?

We think our clients are pretty smart, so are they living in tried and true states, or the up and coming alternatives?

Are Earnest RNs trend setters

Many Earnest RNs already live in well-established states like California, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and more. However, we did see a large count in both Texas and Florida, states that are not only established for nursing job opportunities but also are growing in population.

Registered Nurses having a hard time breaking into already saturated markets may want to consider states where retirees are moving to in higher numbers for future job openings. As people live longer, nurses and health care professionals will be in higher demand than ever, and it could pay major dividends to live where retirees deem desirable.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Earnest.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.