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.