Average RN Salaries by State (2019)
If you are a registered nurse, the good news is that the job outlook for nurses remains strong and jobs are expected to grow faster than most other occupations in the coming decade. Registered nurses (RN) earn salaries that generally keep pace with the cost of living and are in the middle of the pack of all nursing specialties. Here’s a look at the average RN salary by state and the things you need to know about your earning potential as a nurse.
RN salaries across the United States average $64,000 and the top 10 percent of nurses earn more than $94,000. Generally, they are master’s prepared nurses with many years of experience. According to Nurse Journal, the highest salaries are paid by the government, mid-range salaries are paid by hospitals, and the lowest salaries are paid by doctor’s offices.
Salaries vary widely depending upon the state in which an RN practices. For example, the highest paying state for nurses is California with an average salary of 102,700. The lowest annual RN salary in the continental US is found in South Dakota at $57,010. However, among all US states and territories, Puerto Rico comes in with the lowest RN salary of $34,630.
When assessing salaries, it’s important to keep in mind the cost of living in each state, territory or the District of Columbia (Washington, DC). Nurse.org ranks salaries according to cost of living. They found that “many of the highest paying states also had high costs for food, housing, and transportation. Conversely, many of the lowest salaries were found in states with much lower costs for those same basic necessities.”
- South Dakota was number 51, with the lowest cost of living and lowest salary of $55,100 (which varies from the salary noted by the Nurse Salary Guide above).
- Virginia ranked in the middle at number 25 with average salaries of $65,340.
- California was number one on the list, with the highest cost of living and highest RN salaries of $101,260 (another variation from the Nurse Salary Guide).
Not only do salaries vary widely by state, they also vary by county within each state. Here are some examples of how salaries can differ from one county to the next:
- Montgomery county: $64,260
- Florence-Muscle Shoals County: $49,710
- Napa county: $113,740
- Chico county (far northern California): $82,140
- Texarkana: $58,420
- Houston-the Woodlands-Sugar Land: $79,060
Here is a list of RN salaries in all 50 states*:
|State||Annual Salary||Hourly Wage|
|District of Columbia||$90,110||$43.32|
|*Information provided by Nurse Salary Guide|
Salaries also vary by level of training. According to U.S. News & World Report average salaries in 2017 looked like this:
- Nurse Practitioners: $107,480
- Registered Nurses: $73,550
- Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: $45,710
As we mentioned earlier, the job outlook for RNs is strong and expected to grow faster than other occupations in the coming decades. There are many reasons for this:
- The population is aging
- Chronic disease rates are increasing
- Baby Boomers are actively engaged in their healthcare and are demanding more services
- An increased emphasis on preventative care
- Nursing jobs in skilled nursing and rehabilitation will increase as care moves to outpatient settings
Nursing demand varies by state and it’s a good idea to know what the projected demand is when choosing where to practice.