Top 5 Highest-Paying States for Nurses


Washington, D.C. is among the highest paying states for travel nurses

By Anita Wong, contributor

Qualified nurses are in demand across the country, making it a great time to be a travel RN. You can choose opportunities that match your career goals and travel interests and work in the highest-paying states for travel nurses. States offering the best pay for RNs are among the most expensive places to live in the country, but luckily, travel nurses can offset some costs with benefits such as free housing and travel reimbursement.

What kind of salaries do nurses earn?

The average annual wage for nurses in the United States is $75,510, according to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this varies by state from $58,340 to more than $106,000. The difference is due to factors such as cost of living and local supply and demand for nurses. Salaries also vary within each state based on a particular facility's budget, the nursing specialty and your experience and qualifications. Here are the country's five highest-paying states for travel nurses.

1. California

California's gorgeous scenery and climate make it an optimal destination year-round. You can hang out in cool, vibrant cities or explore beautiful beaches, forests, deserts and mountains.

Nurses in the Golden State earn an average annual salary of $106,950, the highest in the country. A travel med-surg nurse in San Francisco can earn up to $42 per hour. A travel pediatric nurse in Los Angeles earns about $50 per hour and a travel OR nurse in Fresno can top $60 per hour.

California is ranked seventh-best in the nation for healthcare by U.S. News and offers rewarding opportunities for RNs. A job at a respected facility such as UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco or UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles looks great on a resume.

2. Hawaii

Hawaii boasts the country's best healthcare system based on access, quality and overall health of the population.

RNs in this state earn an average of $98,080 per year, the second highest in the country. Travel nurses in Hawaii earn in the range of $30 to $42 per hour in specialties such as med-surg, oncology, telemetry and the ER. An RFNA or case management nurse may earn up to $47.50 per hour.

It's easy to love the lifestyle in this picture-perfect destination. You can go snorkeling, diving, parasailing and fishing. When you're ready to relax, set up a blanket under the palm trees and watch the sunset.

3. Washington, DC

RNs in the nation's capital make an average of $92,350 per year. Travel nurses in DC can earn in the range of $32 to $57 per hour, with emergency room, perioperative and cardiovascular OR nurses often at the upper end of the range. Facilities such as MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Children's National Hospital help make DC's healthcare system one of the best in the country.

When your shift is over, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Visit national monuments and world-class museums, cycle beautiful trails, take in lively summer festivals and sample the delicious offerings at DC's renowned restaurants and food trucks.

4. Massachusetts

Ranked as one of the top eight states in the country to live in, Massachusetts offers a little of everything. You can hit the slopes at a ski resort, enjoy the sea breeze on the coast, discover vibrant city living and explore charming rural towns.

It's also one of the highest-paying states for travel nurses. Staff nurses earn an average of $92,140 per year. Travel nurses in Massachusetts can earn about $31 to $48 per hour. Hospitals such as Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston's Children's Hospital and Massachusetts General consistently rank highly.

Massachusetts has pending legislation for the Nursing Licensure Compact, meaning RNs may soon be able to practice there with a multistate license.

5. Oregon

The fifth highest-paying state for nurses is Oregon, with an average annual salary of $91,080. Travel nurse salaries in Oregon range from $32.50 to $35 per hour for a med-surg nurse in Medford, $35 to $40 per hour for an L&D nurse in Seaside and $50 to $55 per hour for a PACU nurse in Portland.

Travel nurses who enjoy the outdoors can spend time exploring the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, Crater Lake and beautiful towns along the coast.

Ready to find your next travel assignment? Search the database for an opportunity that's perfect for you and apply online today.


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