How Much Nurses REALLY Make In Each State

Career site released a new report featuring "real-world" salary rankings by state for registered nurses.

The list considers base pay along with cost of living -- a more meaningful salary comparison for nurses looking to advance their careers by relocating.

"We realized that nurses could benefit more from salary data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics if it contained a cost-of-living dimension. The combined data would offer a more accurate view of how far their salaries might go," said Phillip Lee, Product Manager for

"A nurse making $80,000 in New York technically earns more than a nurse making $70,000 in Texas," explains Lee, "but when you factor in New York's 40% increased cost-of-living, it's a completely different story."

To address this gap, data analysts at compared salaries to regional cost-of-living data. The result is a real-world look at earning power. Nurses can now use the data to compare their current salary to their true earning potential in another state.

The report contains some surprises. California, despite its relatively high cost of living, pays its nurses more than any state on a cost-of-living-adjusted basis. Nevada took the second-highest spot on the list, thanks in part to its lower living costs.

On a non-adjusted basis, California is still number one, but Hawaii takes the second spot. Factor in cost of living, and Hawaii drops well down the list to 13th.

Rounding out the top ten after California and Nevada on the list of top "real-world" nurse salaries is Alaska (No. 3), Oregon (No. 4), Massachusetts (No. 5), Washington State (No. 6), New Jersey (No. 7), Texas (No. 8), Arizona (No. 9), and Minnesota (No. 10).

In addition to adjusted salary data, the rankings report includes effective income tax rates, hourly and annual salary, and number of RNs employed in each state.

With this report, wishes to help the estimated 2.7 million working nurses in the U.S. work where they want to without sacrificing quality of life.

See how your state ranks below:

  1. South Dakota

Average RN Salary: $55,100

Average Hourly: $26.14

Number of RNs in South Dakota:  12,130

Cost of Living Index: 102.8

Effective Tax Rate: 9.77%


  1.  Iowa

Average RN Salary: $55,040

Average Hourly: $26.59

Number of RNs in Iowa:  32,370

Cost of Living Index: 91.7

Effective Tax Rate: 12.84%


  1. North Dakota

Average RN Salary: $58,890

Average Hourly: $28.77

Number of RNs in North Dakota: 8,710

Cost of Living Index: 98.8

Effective Tax Rate: 10.03%


  1. West Virginia

Average RN Salary: $58,010

Average Hourly: $27.98

Number of RNs in West Virginia:  20,880

Cost of Living Index: 95.7

Effective Tax Rate: 10.38%


  1. Alabama

Average RN Salary: $56,890

Average Hourly: $26.68

Number of RNs in Alabama:  47,440

Cost of Living Index: 91.2

Effective Tax Rate: 9.43%


  1. Vermont

Average RN Salary: $65,840

Average Hourly: $31.36

Number of RNs in Vermont: 5,850

Cost of Living Index: 122.4

Effective Tax Rate: 10.89%


  1. Kansas

Average RN Salary: $57,410

Average Hourly: $27.50

Number of RNs in Kansas:  27,130

Cost of Living Index: 90.4

Effective Tax Rate: 12.28%


  1. Arkansas

Average RN Salary: $56,870

Average Hourly: $27.26

Number of RNs in Arkansas:  23,380

Cost of Living Index: 88.5

Effective Tax Rate: 12.28%


  1. Tennessee

Average RN Salary: $57,560

Average Hourly: $27.69

Number of RNs in Tennessee:  47,440

Cost of Living Index: 89.8

Effective Tax Rate: 7.97%


  1. Maine

Average RN Salary: $64,310

Average Hourly: $29.76

Number of RNs in Maine: 14,190

Cost of Living Index: 112

Effective Tax Rate: 11.63%


  1. Mississippi

Average RN Salary: $56,980

Average Hourly: $26.86

Number of RNs in Mississippi:  28,590

Cost of Living Index: 86

Effective Tax Rate: 12.14%


  1. South Carolina

Average RN Salary: $$61,110

Average Hourly: $29.32

Number of RNs in South Carolina: 41,800

Cost of Living Index: 100.5

Effective Tax Rate: 8.84%


  1. Kentucky

Average RN Salary: $58,770.00

Average Hourly: $28.33

Number of RNs in Kentucky:  45,500

Cost of Living Index: 90.8

Effective Tax Rate: 12.01%


  1. Nebraska

Average RN Salary: $58,970

Average Hourly: $28.45

Number of RNs in Nebraska:  21,240

Cost of Living Index: 91.3

Effective Tax Rate: 13.80%


  1. New Hampshire

Average RN Salary: $67,190

Average Hourly: $32.07

Number of RNs in New Hampshire: 13,260

Cost of Living Index: 119.2

Effective Tax Rate: 10.09%


  1. Missouri

Average RN Salary: $59,150

Average Hourly: $28.28

Number of RNs in Missouri:  67,920

Cost of Living Index: 90.8

Effective Tax Rate: 11.02%


  1. North Carolina

Average RN Salary: $60,460

Average Hourly: $28.65

Number of RNs in North Carolina:  99,050

Cost of Living Index: 94.2

Effective Tax Rate: 10.63%


  1. Oklahoma

Average RN Salary: $59,040

Average Hourly: $28.49

Number of RNs in Oklahoma:  27,660

Cost of Living Index: 88.6

Effective Tax Rate: 10.70%


  1. Indiana

Average RN Salary: $58,910

Average Hourly: $28.27

Number of RNs in Indiana:  63,870

Cost of Living Index: 87.9

Effective Tax Rate: 11.87%


  1. Montana

Average RN Salary: $62,650

Average Hourly: $29.98

Number of RNs in Montana: 9,800

Cost of Living Index: 100.8

Effective Tax Rate: 6.89%


  1. Utah

Average RN Salary: $61,000

Average Hourly: $29.23

Number of RNs in Utah: 21,470

Cost of Living Index: 92.8

Effective Tax Rate: 9.25%


  1. Louisiana

Average RN Salary: $62,450

Average Hourly: $29.24

Number of RNs in Louisiana: 44,780

Cost of Living Index: 94.4

Effective Tax Rate: 10.33%


  1. Idaho

Average RN Salary: $61,280

Average Hourly: $29.90

Number of RNs in Idaho: 12,330

Cost of Living Index: 89.6

Effective Tax Rate: 8.48%


  1. Florida

Average RN Salary: $63,960

Average Hourly: $30.15

Number of RNs in Florida: 174,710

Cost of Living Index: 99

Effective Tax Rate: 8.94%


  1. Wyoming

Average RN Salary: $62,080

Average Hourly: $29.54

Number of RNs in Wyoming: 4,970

Cost of Living Index: 91.7

Effective Tax Rate: 7.43%


  1. Ohio

Average RN Salary: $62,800

Average Hourly: $29.95

Number of RNs in Ohio: 128,030

Cost of Living Index: 93

Effective Tax Rate: 13.06%


  1. Virginia

Average RN Salary: $65,340

Average Hourly: $31.00

Number of RNs in Virginia: 63,820

Cost of Living Index: 100.2

Effective Tax Rate: 10.89%


  1. District of Columbia

Average RN Salary: $79,560

Average Hourly: $38.47

Number of RNs in DC: 10,320

Cost of Living Index: 149.2

Effective Tax Rate: 10.00%


  1. Georgia

Average RN Salary: $63,190

Average Hourly: $30.93

Number of RNs in Georgia: 73,330

Cost of Living Index: 91.4

Effective Tax Rate: 10.57%


  1. Maryland

Average RN Salary: $73,200

Average Hourly: $35.31

Number of RNs in Maryland: 53,330

Cost of Living Index: 125

Effective Tax Rate: 11.92%


  1. Pennsylvania

Average RN Salary: $67,550

Average Hourly: $32.05

Number of RNs in Pennsylvania: 139,480

Cost of Living Index: 102.8

Effective Tax Rate: 12.33%


  1. New Mexico

Average RN Salary: $66,030

Average Hourly: $32.49

Number of RNs in New Mexico: 16,200

Cost of Living Index: 95.7

Effective Tax Rate: 10.73%


  1. Wisconsin

Average RN Salary: $66,400

Average Hourly: $31.94

Number of RNs in Wisconsin: 55,410

Cost of Living Index: 96.9

Effective Tax Rate: 13.60%



  1. Connecticut

Average RN Salary: $77,330

Average Hourly: $35.33

Number of RNs in Connecticut: 61,830

Cost of Living Index: 130.7

Effective Tax Rate: 13.56%


  1. New York

Average RN Salary: $78,950

Average Hourly: $38.65

Number of RNs in New York: 180,730

Cost of Living Index: 135.2

Effective Tax Rate: 13.58%


  1. Colorado

Average RN Salary: $69,990

Average Hourly: $33.05

Number of RNs in Colorado: 47,590

Cost of Living Index: 102.1

Effective Tax Rate: 9.34%


  1. Rhode Island

Average RN Salary: $76,410

Average Hourly: $35.73

Number of RNs in Rhode Island: 12,150

Cost of Living Index: 122.1

Effective Tax Rate: 13.57%


  1. Delaware

Average RN Salary: $71,410

Average Hourly: $33.32

Number of RNs in Delaware: 11,320

Cost of Living Index: 102.6

Effective Tax Rate: 6.07%


  1. Hawaii

Average RN Salary: $90,130

Average Hourly: $43.76

Number of RNs in Hawaii: 11,300

Cost of Living Index: 167.4

Effective Tax Rate: 10.33%


  1. Illinois

Average RN Salary: $69,760

Average Hourly: $33.03

Number of RNs in Illinois: 121,670

Cost of Living Index: 95.5

Effective Tax Rate: 14.76%


  1. Michigan

Average RN Salary: $67,690

Average Hourly: $32.43

Number of RNs in Michigan: 92,670

Cost of Living Index: 88.2

Effective Tax Rate: 13.00%


  1. Minnesota

Average RN Salary: $72,310

Average Hourly: $35.80

Number of RNs in Minnesota: 61,830

Cost of Living Index: 101.1

Effective Tax Rate: 11.59%


  1. Arizona

Average RN Salary: $71,790

Average Hourly: $34.94

Number of RNs in Arizona: 52,610

Cost of Living Index: 98.1

Effective Tax Rate: 9.60%


  1. Texas

Average RN Salary: $68,890

Average Hourly: $33.02

Number of RNs in Texas: 207,810

Cost of Living Index: 90.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.12%


  1. New Jersey

Average RN Salary: $79,840

Average Hourly: $38.36

Number of RNs in New Jersey: 79,400

Cost of Living Index: 121

Effective Tax Rate: 12.63%


  1. Washington

Average RN Salary: $78,130

Average Hourly: $37.71

Number of RNs in Washington: 55,350

Cost of Living Index: 107.1

Effective Tax Rate: 11.72%


  1. Massachusetts

Average RN Salary:$88,650

Average Hourly: $40.58

Number of RNs in Massachusetts: 20,250

Cost of Living Index: 134.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.52%


  1. Oregon

Average RN Salary: $83,800

Average Hourly: $42.32

Number of RNs in Oregon: 35,220

Cost of Living Index: 115.4

Effective Tax Rate: 9.22%


  1. Alaska

Average RN Salary: $88,510

Average Hourly: $40.01

Number of RNs in Alaska: 5,570

Cost of Living Index: 131.6

Effective Tax Rate: 5.64%


  1. Nevada

Average RN Salary: $81,460

Average Hourly: $40.36

Number of RNs in Nevada: 20,250

Cost of Living Index: 104.5

Effective Tax Rate: 7.66%


  1. California

Average RN Salary: $101,260

Average Hourly: $48.30

Number of RNs in California: 274,650

Cost of Living Index: 134.8

Effective Tax Rate: 8.79%

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to check out ModernNurse Jobs for the latest job postings.

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3 years ago

Fla. is a horrible place to live and work as a nurse! The beaches are flat and boring, 2 seasons…hot summer and hurricane. Glad to live in WA. State where I make triple the salary!

3 years ago

I am an LPN for 30 years. I have been fortunate that my salary has been decent for me especially being a single mom of 4. I always look at other opportunities just for curiosity. It amazes me that some places in my state offer anywhere from $18,000-$35,000 less a year. What a massive difference. How do they expect anyone to survive on basically minimum wage. It amazes me that someone working in a fast food restaurant is earning the same as a nurse. Nothing against employees in other jobs but a nurse who actually is responsible for someone’s life… Read more »

D. Wilson
3 years ago

I agree with M Brennan- Fla RN’s too many in the job market and consequently I am making what most LPN’s in other states make and I have been nursing for 33 years . If it wasn’t for my elderly parents , I would have left a long time ago.

3 years ago

Florida has new BSN NURSES IN VOLUSIA COUNTY STARTING AROUND 15TO 18 DOLLARS AN HOUR .FLAGLER AROUND I9 DOLLARS AN hour.These are for new hospitals reason is [ well u have the beach]. Senior nurses coming from the north make half of what they made up north.They all said the same thing that they have the beach..Cheaper to live here not.Housing taxes cheaper but come no where near making up the difference in salaries.Can’t speak for other counties but Miami area highest paid.Increaced dangerous clientele. Best you’ve In hated community.Taxes high.

Jamie P
3 years ago

How about an LPN comparison? Thanks!