The Top 10 States for Nurses

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A new report looks at salary, work environment, job markets, and other factors to come up with the 10 best states to be a nurse.

May marks the month when healthcare organizations, doctors, and patients celebrate the contributions of nurses. National Nurses Day was celebrated last week, and many healthcare organizations across the US spent the past week honoring their nurses.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the US has nearly 4 million nurses, including 3.1 million registered nurses and some 800,000 licensed practical nurses. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show those nurses had a median salary of $66,640 in 2014. US News and World Report labeled “registered nurse” as the 16th best healthcare job in the US.

As anyone in the healthcare industry knows, the job market for nurses in the US is robust, with just a 2.1% unemployment rate among registered nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for registered nurses to grow 16% in the decade from 2014-2024, more than twice the projected growth of the overall workforce.

Physicians know the healthcare system would cease to function without nurses. However, while the job can be rewarding it also exists on the front lines of the healthcare industry, and nurses must deal with the indignities that go along with treating people who are suffering and frustrated.

So how frustrating is it to be a nurse? That depends on a lot of factors, of course, including the healthcare system, the physicians, a given nurse’s schedule, and many, many other factors. However, the consumer finance website WalletHub wanted to get a bird’s eye view of the quality of life for nurses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To do that, pulled together 14 metrics and ranked the states based on the data.

The result is WalletHub’s list of the Best and Worst States for Nurses. Below, we’re presenting their 10 best states for nurses. The 14 metrics the researchers collected were merged into two broad categories: “Opportunity and Competition” and “Work Environment.” The former category includes things like job openings, projected competition for jobs, salary, and number of healthcare facilities. The latter category includes things like restrictions on mandatory overtime, average commute times, and average hours of work per week.

Below are the Top 10 States for Nurses, along with each state’s rank in the two broad categories, and salary and workforce data.

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 21

Work Environment Rank: 16

Total Active Nurses (2014): 221,284

Average RN Salary: $65,000

9. New Hampshire

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 39

Work Environment Rank: 4

Total Active Nurses (2014): 10,012

Average RN Salary: $63,920

8. Connecticut

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 45

Work Environment Rank: 1

Total Active Nurses (2014): 54,367

Average RN Salary: $75,660

7. Minnesota

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 37

Work Environment Rank: 2

Total Active Nurses (2014): 93,029

Average RN Salary: $70,780

6. California

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 5

Work Environment Rank: 18

Total Active Nurses (2014): 378,181


Average RN Salary: $94,120

5. Iowa

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 4

Work Environment Rank: 17

Total Active Nurses (2014): 50,181

Average RN Salary: $52,540

4. Oregon

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 17

Work Environment Rank: 8

Total Active Nurses (2014): 38,319

Average RN Salary: $78,530

3. Texas

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 3

Work Environment Rank: 19

Total Active Nurses (2014): 318,636

Average RN Salary: $66,350

2. Illinois

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 20

Work Environment Rank: 5

Total Active Nurses (2014): 163,118

Average RN Salary: $66,260

1. Washington

Opportunity and Competition Rank: 7

Work Environment Rank: 7

Total Active Nurses (2014): 58,366

Average RN Salary: $75,350

Continue reading for an interactive map of all 50 states.

Source: WalletHub

References: WalletHub’s “2016 Best & Worst States for Nurses,” Kaiser Family Foundation, Nurse Salary Guide.