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The 10 Top-Ranking States for Nurses

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Feel like it’s time to hit the road? If you have the flexibility to choose what geographical area you work in, you may want to consider putting down roots in a state where you can get a great, high-paying job doing what you love. 

We’ve compiled all the information you need to make a plan in our comprehensive lists below. Learn more about the best states for nurses, the average nurse salary in high-paying regions and even where to go to school.

Get ready to pack your bags; it may be time to start your next big adventure!

Top states for nurses

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Rankings are relative, but the experts over at Nurse Journal took the time to make a list of top states for nurses that accounts for eight different factors, from salary to diversity and cost of living. Here are some of their key findings:

1. California: Sure, the sunshine and beaches are a draw, but so is the exceptional range of diversity in nursing staff and high salaries. California is frequently ranked as the best state to find work as a nurse. 

2. Washington: A diverse workforce and high salaries make the state of Washington a major draw. Just remember, all that fresh mountain air comes with a slightly higher cost of living than other places in the country. 

3. New York: Why is New York a great state for nursing? Because it’s a great state for just about everything. The  city has something for everyone, and you’ll enjoy your days off to the fullest, spending a bit of  your reasonably high salary. New York also boasts a booming job market for nurses. 

4. Texas: Don’t mess with Texas, or so the Lone Star state’s favorite motto goes. Texas offers a reasonable cost of living, good salaries and an exceptionally diverse workforce. 

5. Arizona: With high salaries and a wealth of jobs working with older populations, Arizona is a state worth considering if you’re a nurse

6. Delaware: We all know that Delaware is a tax-free state, and while that’s a draw, it’s not the only one. This state offers access to several cities, including those in bordering states (like Philadelphia), making it a good place to find work. 

7. Colorado: With employment rates on the rise and a wealth of jobs helping older populations, Colorado is a good move (literally) for nurses.

8. Massachusetts: Massachusetts has some of the highest nurse salaries in the nation, so you’ll be able to afford a comfortable life in this northeastern state (not to mention all the lobster rolls your heart desires). 

9. Maryland: If you want to go where the jobs are, consider Maryland. This state’s employment rate for nursing jobs is on the rise. 

10. Nevada: Nevada attracts many nurses with its incredibly diverse workforce and great salaries. It may not be listed among the best states for nurses regarding the cost of living, but look at it this way: You’ll have Vegas at your fingertips.

States with the best salaries for nurses

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Got money on your mind? Salary is a key factor in any career decision, especially one that involves a move to a different state. Here are the average salaries in states with high-paying nursing jobs:

  1. California: $120,560
  2. Hawaii: $104,830
  3. Massachusetts: $96,250
  4. Oregon: $96,230
  5. Alaska: $95,270
  6. Washington: $91,310
  7. New York $89,760
  8. Nevada $89,750
  9. New Jersey $85,720
  10. Connecticut $84,850

States with largest projected employment growth

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Another important factor when choosing where to work is finding an area with a stable employment growth rate, where you’re more likely to have long-term job security. Here’s how the top 10 states for nursing employment rates stack up:

  1. Arizona 35%
  2. Colorado 29.5%
  3. Utah 28.2%
  4. New York 24.6%
  5. Georgia 22.5%
  6. Nevada 22.3%
  7. Maryland 21.7%
  8. Washington 20.5%
  9. Delaware 20%
  10. Idaho 19.9%

Best states for nursing school

If you’re about to start your nursing career and want a change of scenery, you might consider schooling programs outside your current home state. You can begin your search by looking at schools with excellent programs and letting the quality of the education guide you. The ranking experts over at U.S. News chose these nursing master’s programs as the best in class

  1. Johns Hopkins University in Maryland 
  2. Emory University in Georgia
  3. Duke University in North Carolina
  4. University of Pennsylvania
  5. Columbia University in New York
  6. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
  7. University of Washington
  8. Vanderbilt University in Tennessee 
  9. The Ohio State University
  10. University of California–San Francisco
  11. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  12. New York University 

You’ll notice that several of these universities are in states that stand out for other reasons, so if you go to school in one of them, perhaps you can jump right into a fruitful career without packing up and going elsewhere.

Best states for new grad nurses 

So, you have your diploma in hand and a new certification, and you’re ready to work. Check out this ranking of the top states for new nurses

  1. California: Why? Lots of available jobs, so you’re likely to find a role that works for you.
  2. Texas: Why? Texas has a nursing shortage, so the workforce is looking for new members. 
  3. New Jersey: Why? Good salaries and a nursing shortage mean that you’ll find well-paying work more effortlessly than in other parts of the country. 
  4. South Carolina: Why? The demand for nurses is on the rise.
  5. Alaska: Why? As you might imagine, not everyone is jumping to work in this chilly state. But if you like winter sports, consider it. Alaska has a growing need for nurses, and it’s regarded as one of the best states for LPNs to live in.

Getting luxe scrubs from us is just a few clicks away, wherever your work takes you. We’re also here to provide cheat sheets like this one to make your career decisions just a bit easier.

And no matter where your career path leads you, don’t forget to send us a postcard!

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