Median Nursing Salaries By State For Registered Nurses

You’re thinking about becoming a registered nurse and you want to know the highest salaries by state for RN’s. The median salaries for registered nurses varies hugely depending on a number of factors – including what state you live in. If you look at the chart below, the median salary in Florida is just over $50,000. In New York, it jumps another $10,000 to just over $60,000. Woo hoo! Pack your bags, you’re headed to New York, right? What about sunny California with the highest median nursing salaries at just under $64,000? Think of the beautiful weather and the beaches. Forget New York!

Wait – not so fast with the packing. Put down your suitcases…slooowly. Knowing the highest nursing salaries by state isn’t the biggest factor in determining the lifestyle you’ll be able to live once you get that nursing degree. The most important factor to consider is quality of life (i.e. your standard of living). Salaries are generally higher in heavily-populated states with “big cities,” but if you hate living in those big cities and are miserable fighting traffic to get to work every day, the higher salary isn’t going to matter that much.

The next factor to consider is cost of living – especially housing. The starting pay in California would make nurses in Alabama green with envy – until you consider the fact that even with the current housing market crash there are many cities in California where it’s hard to buy a house for less than $300,000. Contrast that with Alabama where it would not be unreasonable to expect a nice house at half that cost. If you look at the chart below, you see that the overall cost of living is 54% higher in Los Angeles, CA than Birmingham, AL!

And according to the cost of living calculator at PayScale.com, if you are a registered nurse in Birmingham, AL with a yearly salary of $50,000, you would need to make $76,940 in Los Angeles, CA to maintain the same standard of living.

It’s fun and interesting to know the highest nursing salaries by state but in the end, it’s not all about the money. You need to factor in your quality of life and cost of living. Registered nurses in Alabama may not make as much as nurses in California, but their cost of living is much less and for many nurses working there, they probably like the “slower-pace” lifestyle that the South has to offer:) The point is, you need to factor all of these considerations (salaries, quality of life, and cost of living) before making a decision where you ultimately want to practice as a registered nurse.

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