Top 10 Highest Paying States for Nursing

Highest Paying States

Nurses are one of the most in demand professions in the U.S. It can also be one of the more demanding career choices so the pay should reflect that effort.

Travel nurses are wise to consider earning potential and how it might vary based on where the assignment is located. These ten states top the list as the highest paying for nursing professionals.


  1. California
  2. North Dakota
  3. South Dakota
  4. New York
  5. Montana
  6. New Jersey
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Wisconsin
  9. West Virginia
  10. Illinois


  1. California

You might guess that one the most sought after states to call home is also the best state in terms of nurse compensation. Everything from the mild climate and spectacular coast to mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratiosmake it an easy guess. However, California’s cost of living is one of the highest in the union making your paycheck in the Golden State not quite as shiny.


  1. North Dakota

Where Theodore Roosevelt National Park spans the Little Missouri River, North Dakota is dominated by the Great Plains and best known for The Badlands, which draws visitors from around the world. Thanks to a boom in oil production and thus the nation’s second best economy, the state’s population is no longer shrinking.


  1. South Dakota

Like sister to the north, South Dakota is well loved for her wide-open spaces. Black Hills National Forest is home to two historical monuments carved right into soaring granite peaks. Mt. Rushmore pays tribute to four revered U.S. presidents, and Crazy Horse Memorial honors the storied Native American tribal leader. The state ranks seventh for higher education with a good number of teaching hospitals.


  1. New York

There’s an entire state beyond the famous island of Manhattan. New York is home to four of the world’s ten most-visited tourist attractions and the alluring Adirondack Mountains. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the state takes third for most hospitals in the country, which means more opportunities for nurses.


  1. Montana

Big Sky Country is known for its big, blue skies and Glacier National Park named for its snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes and alpine hiking trails. Unsurprisingly, Montana boasts one of the lowest obesity and hospital readmission rates.


  1. New Jersey

One of the foremost research centers in the world lends itself to the state’s number two rating for education and it’s also near the top for healthcare. The Garden State is famous for the Jersey Shore (the place and sadly, the MTV series) and one of the most visited amusement parks Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari.


  1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire has its pulse on healthcare earning it the spot for fourth best state for healthcare by U.S. News & World Report. While small in terms of square miles, the Granite State has a wide variety of settings to call home including urban, rural, lakeside, coastal and in the mountains.


  1. Wisconsin

You don’t have to be a fan of cheese curds to make Wisconsin home – although they are pretty darn delicious. Wisconsin has one of the top-rated healthcare systems in the country and a low cost of living. Madison came in third on’s “Best Places to Live” list, and if you’re wanting a scenic, quaint town, check out the Sturgeon Bay area.


  1. West Virginia

Adventure-seekers will not be disappointed by some of the most rugged land in the country and the best skiing the East Coast has to offer. West Virginia is rich in American history and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure like the Bridge Walk over the New River Gorge. Bonus: Your paycheck will go far because it’s the tenth most affordable state in the U.S.


  1. Illinois

Considered a microcosm of the entire country, Illinois is the fifth most populous state and home to Chicago, where you can stroll the Magnificent Mile and capture breathtaking views from the shores of Lake Michigan. Iconic Route 66 is a 300-mile stretch of American roadway immersed in legend with quirky museums and eateries along the way. The state is among the top for gender equality, which many nurses (and those who support them) certainly appreciate.


Picking your location is part of the travel nurse journey. One of the many benefits is you can pick the place that’s right for you depending on different factors including family, friends, hobbies and pay package.

Curious about another state on your prospect list? Check out RN average salaries by state published by Becker’s Hospital Review. If you’re interested in learning about our current travel nursing opportunities, contact your recruiter or visit us online. We’d love to help you narrow your search to find the perfect assignment.



Be in control of your destiny.

Want to try out life on the opposite coast or pick up a hobby that requires mountaintops? Life as a travel nurse means you’re in the driver seat of your destiny. Nursing is a profession ripe with demand, which means you are in the position to call the shots. After all, opportunity is always knocking, so which door are you going to open?


Travel nurses who contract with a staffing agency have a sweeter deal. That’s because the less exciting legwork is handled by the nurse’s representing company. Seeking out available positions, determining appropriate fit, and the tedious application process and contract negotiations can all be off your plate if you partner with an agency. That leaves you with time to get ready for your next adventure.


If you have what it takes to be a travel nurse, check out the current opportunities with PPR today.

Fast-paced career growth that’s fun.

Travel nurses have a luxury that many envy because they can dodge the dread of feeling stagnant at their job. Few career opportunities present such a fast-paced trajectory upward simply because travel nurses are always on the move growing and learning in a whole host of ways. With each assignment comes a new facility along with a slew of SOPs, people, and responsibilities to navigate.


The prospects for a travel nurse are robust especially if you’re interested in broadening your skill set and exploring an alternate healthcare field. Take a welcomed leap over to pediatrics, radiology, or even become a trainer to implement new software. Wherever your career might lead, you can rest assured knowing its meaningfulness will remain constant both to you as a professional and those who receive your care and support.


If you want to jumpstart your nursing career in a big way, we’d love to be your launch pad. Learn more about our work with travel nurses around the country.

Seize adventures like it’s your job. Because it is!

Packing up and moving your life to a different city means adventure is never far behind. Travel nurses have the unique opportunity to change locations about every 13 weeks. And while starting fresh (albeit again and again) is not for everyone, those who detest the dull truly meet their match as a travel nurse.


A new contract might take you to a place you didn’t even know existed with fascinating places to explore and get to know. An outdoor concert arena, a Thai fusion restaurant, or a rail-to-trail bike path could be awaiting your arrival. Going to work as a travel nurse means learning the ins and outs on shift while meeting friends and colleagues for the first time. You just never know who or what might cross your unchartered path.


See what travel nurse opportunities are available now and find your next assignment.

Neonatal Nurse Day: Caring for the Tiniest Lives

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At PPR Travel Nursing, we are honored to have a neonatal nurse on staff. Nicole Lanier was activated during the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey as part of her work with the KidsKare Transport Team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in our home town Jacksonville, FL. When she returned from her trip, we took some time to sit down and talk about why she chose neonatal nursing and to hear about her experiences in Houston.

Q: In your own words, what is a Neonatal nurse?

A neonatal nurse is a special nurse.  Neonatal nurses are blessed with the opportunity to take care of and help save the tiniest of lives.  Their assessment skills have to be accurate as the babies cannot talk to you, so we must monitor their vital signs closely, observe, and respond appropriately to their needs.

Q: How did you get involved with the field of Neonatal nursing?

I went to Florida State University for my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.  During my last semester, I was assigned to the NICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for my internship.  During my internship, I met the manager and she told me to contact her once I passed my boards – she saw potential in my skills and said she would offer me a job.  Once I passed my boards, she was true to her word, and I was hired directly into the NICU.

Q: Is there a specific experience that drew you to want to work specifically with babies?

There was no specific thing that drew me to working with babies.  I enjoyed the challenge of the job.  No one neonate is the same.  Every child presents with different challenges and their status can change within minutes.  I do enjoy working with the families.  You are taking care of their most precious possessions.  It is a great feeling to be able to help the neonates, but also be a source of support for the families.

Q: How long have you been a Neonatal nurse?

I have been a NICU Nurse for 15 years.

Q: Recently you went to Houston to assist with the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey, can you explain what you were doing there?

In Houston, we took our equipment and we helped support the hospitals there by providing our resources and our expertise as neonates needed to be moved from hospitals.

Q: You went to Houston through your work with Wolfson Children’s Hospital – can you explain that program?

I am on the KidsKare Transport Team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.  We are a Neo/Pediatric Critical Care Team that services a 250-mile radius of Northeast Florida.  We have a partnership with Air Methods. It was that partnership that provided us the invite to go out to Houston to help with relief efforts.

Q: Is there a specific story or experience from Houston that you can share with us?

It is one thing to see devastation through stories on TV, it is another to see it firsthand.  When we would fly into areas, just seeing the water up to the roofs of houses was chilling.  At certain hubs, we saw recoveries/families and our hearts just were broken for them.  There were a lot of resources that were sent to that area and we all worked together to get things done.  It was wonderful to see all of the Teamwork from our staff, Air Methods, the Coast Guard, Navy, etc, that were there working together to help the people on the ground as well as hospital staff.

Q: If you could give a piece of advice to a nursing student who is considering specializing in neonatal, what would you say?

I would say be ready for a challenge, but know that it is one of the most fulfilling jobs you will ever have. You will develop some of the best assessment skills you will ever need as a nurse.  You will always look back on neonatal nursing with a happy heart.

Q: Is there something you wish you had known early on in your nursing career?

Nothing specific. If I had my career to do over again – I would not change a thing.  I am proud to be a Neonatal nurse and it prepared me well to go on to train for caring for the pediatric critical care population as well. Nursing has made me a better human.  It is a selfless and sometimes thankless job, but you know you are providing a need, service, and care for the smallest little lives.  It is a personal calling for me since I was very young.  I am proud to be a Nurse and extra proud to be a Neonatal Nurse.


And we are extra proud to have Nicole Lanier as part of our PPR Family!

Happy Neonatal Nurse Day to all of our NICU Travelers! We appreciate you caring for the tiniest of lives, not just today but every day.