Top 10 Best Paying States for RN Jobs

palm trees along the beach at sunset
Written by
Laila Ighani
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
March 13, 2023

Are you a newly graduated registered nurse (RN) trying to figure out how much you’ll be able to earn in your chosen career? Or perhaps you are an experienced RN tired of being under-compensated for your hard work. Regardless of your experience in the field, this list of the highest-paying states for RNs will tell you where you can earn the highest income as a registered nurse.

Want to learn all there is to know about RN salary? See also The Ultimate Guide to Registered Nurse (RN) Pay [Updated 2023].

1. California

California Palm Trees

With an average salary of $124,000 annually, the Golden State takes the prize for being the highest-paying state for registered nurses.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in California?

The average RN in California can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $59.62
  • Average weekly rate: $2,384.80
  • Average monthly rate: $10,333.33
  • Average annual rate: $124,000

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in California

Evidently, the previous figures don’t reflect RN entry-level salary—neither do they reflect the salaries of the highest-paid RNs. With this in mind, RNs can estimate the salary they might make in California by considering the following salary percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $78,070
  • 25th percentile: $98,960
  • 50th percentile: $125,340
  • 75th percentile: $155,930
  • 90th percentile: $165,620

Based on these figures, an entry-level RN position in California might offer approximately $78,070 annually, whereas an RN with higher education, nursing certifications, and many years of work experience will earn around $165,620 per year. In either case, California offers unparalleled compensation for RNs.

Registered Nurse Pay in California Adjusted to Cost of Living

Many of you are probably wondering—and rightly so—whether RN income in California is still high after factoring in the elevated cost of living in this state. In fact, the cost-of-living-adjusted hourly wage for RNs in California drops from $59.62 to $42.65. Interestingly, even factoring in the cost of living, California continues to be the state where registered nurses earn the highest income nationwide. 

2. Hawaii

There is more good news for beach lovers: Hawaii is the second-highest-paying state for RNs.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Hawaii?

The average RN in Hawaii can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $51.22
  • Average weekly rate: $2,048.80
  • Average monthly rate: $8,877.50
  • Average annual rate: $106,530

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Hawaii

Since the average RN salary is not representative of all RNs, here are RN salaries in Hawaii broken down into percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $75,380
  • 25th percentile: $94,100
  • 50th percentile: $111,070
  • 75th percentile: $126,800
  • 90th percentile: $129,670

Based on this data, new RNs looking for jobs in Hawaii can estimate that they would initially be in the lowest percentile until they accrue work experience and would gradually move up the salary ladder until they reach a six figures salary. 

Registered Nurse Pay in Hawaii Adjusted to Cost of Living

Now, get ready for the bad news: Hawaii is actually the state where an RN salary is worth the least. In fact, it ranks 50th in the US for cost-of-living-adjusted RN salary. After factoring in the cost of living, the average hourly rate for RNs in Hawaii plummets from $51.22 to $26.97.

In conclusion, unless you find a way to cut down on living expenses—perhaps you are lucky enough to have family members in Hawaii—the Aloha State is not the best place for RNs to make a good living.

3. Oregon

With the enviable average RN salary of $98,630, Oregon is number three on our list of the highest-paying states for RNs.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Oregon?

The average RN in Oregon can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $47.42
  • Average weekly rate: $1,896.80
  • Average monthly rate: $8,219.17
  • Average annual rate: $98,630

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Oregon

Although the overall average salary for RNs in Oregon is $98,630, the following percentiles will help you locate your approximate salary potential based on your years of nursing experience, level of education, and nursing certifications, among other factors:

  • 10th percentile: $76,180
  • 25th percentile: $81,700
  • 50th percentile: $99,410
  • 75th percentile: $107,270
  • 90th percentile: $127,680

Registered Nurse Pay in Oregon Adjusted to Cost of Living

Unlike Hawaii, Oregon makes both the list of the top ten highest-paying states for RNs and the list of the top ten states where an RN salary stretches the farthest. Ranking at number ten for best cost-of-living-adjusted RN salary, the hourly rate in Oregon dips from $47.42 to $39.32 after factoring in the costs of living in this state.

4. District of Columbia

district of Columbia

Although not a state, DC certainly makes the list of the top-paying locations in the US for RNs. 

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in DC?

The average RN in the District of Columbia can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $47.38
  • Average weekly rate: $1,895.20
  • Average monthly rate: $8,211.67
  • Average annual rate: $98,540

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in DC

Interestingly, although DC is not the best place for entry-level nurses to earn a good salary, the highest-paid RNs in DC earn as much as the highest-paid nurses in Hawaii and even more than the highest-paid nurses in Oregon. Here is the breakdown of RN salaries in our nation’s capital:

  • 10th percentile: $62,700
  • 25th percentile: $77,740
  • 50th percentile: $95,220
  • 75th percentile: $101,650
  • 90th percentile: $129,670

Registered Nurse Pay in DC Adjusted to Cost of Living

Unfortunately, DC doesn’t make it onto the list of the top ten best places to live on an RN salary. Whereas the living wage in Oregon for one adult is $19.38—remember that Oregon only barely made the top ten list of best places to live on an RN salary—the living wage in DC is $22.15.

5. Alaska

Alaska isn’t far behind, with an average RN salary of $97,230 annually.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Alaska?

The average RN in Alaska can expect to earn the following wages:

  • Average hourly rate: $46.74
  • Average weekly rate: $1,869.60
  • Average monthly rate: $8,102.50
  • Average annual rate: $97,230

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Alaska

Although Alaska is the fifth highest-paying state for RNs overall, it is second only to California when it comes to entry-level RN salaries. In other words, Alaska is a great state to begin your career with a high entry-level salary. Here are the average RN salaries in Alaska broken down into percentiles

  • 10th percentile: $77,450
  • 25th percentile: $78,760
  • 50th percentile: $99,110
  • 75th percentile: $101,650
  • 90th percentile: $127,020

Registered Nurse Pay in Alaska Adjusted to Cost of Living

Another consideration when it comes to RN salary in Alaska is the cost of living. Alaska ranks nineteenth on the list of states where an RN salary is worth the most. After factoring in the cost of living, the hourly rate for RNs in Alaska drops from $46.74 to $36.89.

6. Massachusetts

With an average annual salary of $96,630, the Bay State is the sixth state with the highest RN salary. 

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Massachusetts?

The average RN in Massachusetts can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $46.46
  • Average weekly rate: $1,858.40
  • Average monthly rate: $8,052.50
  • Average annual rate: $96,630

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Massachusetts

Although not a great place to earn a high entry-level RN salary, Massachusetts is second only to California when it comes to the highest-earning RNs. Therefore, if you have many years of work experience, a master’s in nursing, and perhaps one or two nursing certifications, you might want to consider applying for RN jobs in Massachusetts; you might just enter the highest-paid percentile for registered nurses. Here are the salary percentiles for RNs in Massachusetts: 

  • 10th percentile: $61,180
  • 25th percentile: $75,920
  • 50th percentile: $94,960
  • 75th percentile: $120,240
  • 90th percentile: $151,310

Registered Nurse Pay in Massachusetts Adjusted to Cost of Living

Now, before you pack your bags and move to Massachusetts, you should factor in the cost of living in this state. With an hourly rate that drops from $46.46 to $31.41 after factoring in the cost of living, Massachusetts ranks at forty-six on the list of the best places to live on an RN salary.

7. Washington

Washington Mountain

Washington makes the list of the top ten highest-paying states for RNs, with an average annual salary of $95,350.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Washington?

The average RN in Washington can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $45.84
  • Average weekly rate: $1,833.60
  • Average monthly rate: $7,945.83
  • Average annual rate: $95,350

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Washington

Interestingly, Washington beats other states higher up on the list of the highest-paying states for RNs when it comes to both the average entry-level salary and the highest-paid RNs in the state. All around, Washington is a good place to earn a high salary as a registered nurse. Here are the salary percentiles for RNs in Washington: 

  • 10th percentile: $74,070
  • 25th percentile: $77,980
  • 50th percentile: $96,980
  • 75th percentile: $103,210
  • 90th percentile: $127,320

Registered Nurse Pay in Washington Adjusted to Cost of Living

Washington is not only the seventh highest-paying state for RNs but also the seventh state with the best cost-of-living-adjusted salary for RNs. In fact, after factoring in the cost of living, the RN hourly wage in Washington only dips from $45.84 to $40.25—not nearly as much as in other high-paying states.

8. New York

With an average annual salary of $93,320, the Empire State also makes the list of the top ten highest-paying states for RNs.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in NY?

The average RN in New York can expect to earn the following figures:

  • Average hourly rate: $44.86
  • Average weekly rate: $1,794.40
  • Average monthly rate: $7,776.67
  • Average annual rate: $93,320

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in New York

As is the case with other high-paying locations, such as Massachusetts and DC, New York is not the best place for newly graduated RNs to make a good income. However, nurses with some work experience and other salary-increasing cards up their sleeves should consider RN jobs in New York since the higher-paid half of RNs in New York make a pretty juicy income. Here are the salary percentiles for RNs in the State of New York:

  • 10th percentile: $61,260
  • 25th percentile: $75,670
  • 50th percentile: $96,170
  • 75th percentile: $101,570
  • 90th percentile: $127,080

Registered Nurse Pay in New York Adjusted to Cost of Living

Another reason why newly graduated nurses might want to choose a different high-paying state is that New York ranks at forty-four on the list of states where an RN salary stretches the farthest. In fact, the average RN hourly rate in New York drops from $44.86 to $32.79 after factoring in the cost of living in this state.

9. New Jersey

With an average RN salary of $89,690 annually, New Jersey also offers registered nurses one of the highest salaries nationwide.

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in New Jersey?

The average RN in New Jersey can expect to earn the following salary:

  • Average hourly rate: $43.12
  • Average weekly rate: $1,724.80
  • Average monthly rate: $7,474.17
  • Average annual rate: $89,690

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in New Jersey

Even though New Jersey is the ninth of the top ten highest-paying states for RNs, this state offers higher wages to the lowest-earning ten percent of RNs than other states higher up on the list. Therefore, New Jersey is a better option for newly graduated RNs to find high-paying nursing jobs than higher-paying locations such as New York, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia. The following are the salary percentiles for RNs in New Jersey:  

  • 10th percentile: $70,920
  • 25th percentile: $78,050
  • 50th percentile: $94,690
  • 75th percentile: $99,340
  • 90th percentile: $117,990

Registered Nurse Pay in New Jersey Adjusted to Cost of Living

Another reason to choose New Jersey over its northern neighbor is that it ranks at twenty-six on the list of the states with the highest cost-of-living-adjusted salary for RNs—whereas New York ranks at forty-four. After factoring in the cost of living in this state, the average hourly rate for RNs in New Jersey drops from $43.12 to $36.36.

10. Nevada

Las Vegas

Nevada actually offers the same average annual salary as Connecticut ($88,800) but beats its fellow state when it comes to the average hourly rate, lowest-earning ten percent of RNs, and highest-earning ten percent of RNs. 

How Much Do RNs Make an Hour, a Week, Monthly, and Annually in Nevada?

The average RN in Nevada can expect to earn the following income:

  • Average hourly rate: $42.69
  • Average weekly rate: $1,702.40
  • Average monthly rate: $7,400.00
  • Average annual rate: $88,800

RN Entry-Level Salary and the Highest-Paid RNs in Nevada

Although slightly higher than that of Connecticut, Nevada doesn’t offer a very high RN minimum wage. However, it pays its highest-earning ten percent of RNs $9,000 more than Connecticut. The following are average RN salaries in Nevada divided into different salary-tier percentiles

  • 10th percentile: $61,790
  • 25th percentile: $77,140
  • 50th percentile: $79,360
  • 75th percentile: $98,510
  • 90th percentile: $119,530

Registered Nurse Pay in Nevada Adjusted to Cost of Living

Nevada might be tenth on the list of the highest-paying states for RNs, but it is second only to California when it comes to cost-of-living-adjusted salary. The average hourly registered nurse pay in Nevada only dips slightly from $42.69 to $40.50 after adjusting for the cost of living. 

Do RNs Make Good Money?

The numbers do not lie: Whereas the median hourly wage for all full-time wage and salary workers in the United States is $27.13, the median hourly wage of registered nurses is $37.31. Therefore, we can safely say that RNs make more than the average full-time worker in the United States.

That said, perhaps the question we should really be asking is, “How can I make more money as an RN?” For the answer to this question and many more, check out our Nurse Salary Guide: Understand How Much You Can Make as a Nurse.

Blog published on:
March 13, 2023

Laila is a contributing copywriter and editor at Nursa who specializes in writing compelling long-form content about nursing finances, per diem job locations, areas of specialization, guides, and resources that help nurses navigate their career paths.

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