Top 10 highest paying states for nurses

Oregon coastline - one of the top states for nurse pay

Higher pay often tops the list when someone is considering where to work as a nurse. That’s true whether you’re considering relocating permanently or just taking a short term travel nursing assignment. The flexibility of travel nursing has the advantage of letting you try out a location before you make a commitment. Interested in increasing your earning potential? Here’s our countdown of the top 10 highest paying states for nurses (adjusted for the cost of living).

10. Minnesota


Growth in the direct care workforce, including home health RNs, is outpacing nearly every other occupation in the country. In Minnesota it will become the largest single occupation by 2026. As a result, the average RN salary of $72,310 is expected to rise even higher in the next few years. As a travel destination, whoever named it the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” undercounted by about 1000. Minnesota is a water lover’s dream, making for fun in, on, and around its azure blue lakes.

View travel nurse jobs in Minnesota

9. Arizona

Monument Valley tribal Park Taylor Rock Viewpoint, Arizona, USA

With nearly 52,600 RNs calling Arizona home, they know what travel nurses quickly find out — that the scenery is mind-blowing (after all, it is home to the Grand Canyon) and has Southwestern cuisine to die for. By 2022, nearly one in eight U.S. jobs will be in healthcare, which has accounted for much of the job growth in Greater Phoenix, which is poised to become a national healthcare hub.

View travel nurse jobs in Arizona

8. Texas

Scenic Mountain Road in Texas near Big Bend National Park, Texas

One thousand people pull up roots and relocate to Texas every day! That means an ever-increasing need for medical personnel that puts Texas in the top states for nurse pay. Dallas and Houston land in the top five of all U.S. cities for median salary for dialysis nurses by career experience, $61,526 and $69,339 respectively. And when working in Texas, don’t be surprised if you wind up the proud owner of cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats, y’all.

View travel nurse jobs in Texas

7.  New Jersey

Steel Pier - Atlantic City, New Jersey

With the demand increasing, New Jersey is fertile ground for talented nurses. Its average RN wage is $79,840 per year. In your off-time, stroll miles of its famous boardwalks, choose from 44 beaches to enjoy the sun and surf, or drive into nearby NYC or Philadelphia for those big cities’ art, cuisine, shopping, and entertainment.

View travel nurse jobs in New Jersey

6. Washington

Washington State forest

Home to Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, and Boeing’s manufacturing operations, Washington’s economy is consistently the fastest growing in the nation. With over 3,000 miles of Pacific coastline, one of the largest temperate rainforests in America, and more glaciers than all the other contiguous states combined, Washington is for travelers who love exploring destinations that lead to lifetime memories.

  View travel nurse jobs in Washington

5. Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts

Massachusetts joins the top states for nurse pay at $88,650 average annual salary. Small businesses like medical practices are a major force here, employing 20.8% of its population, larger than in most states. Enjoy the beauty of the Berkshire mountains in western Mass or the bustle of Boston in the east, and you might just fall in love, like so many have, with the Bay State.

View travel nurse jobs in Massachusetts

4. Oregon

Oregon coast

With the second highest continuous waterfall in the U.S. all 363 miles of its coastline free and public, and over 280 micro-breweries, what’s not to love about Oregon?  On top of which Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax. And if copious rainfall’s not your thing, you can hang out in Bend which enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

View travel nurse jobs in Oregon

3. Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Alaska’s average RN salary comes in at an attractive $88,510 with an hourly wage at $40.01. With much of its revenue from petroleum resources, Alaska has neither an income nor a sales tax, making your income go that much farther. Oil revenues even give residents a five-figure dividend every year. Want to see a breathtaking sight U.S. citizens in other states seldom experience — gossamer scarves of color waving in night skies?  Work in Fairbanks where the Northern Lights are on display 243 days a year.

View travel nurse jobs in Alaska

2. Nevada

Valley of Fire, Nevada

When you think Nevada, most people think gambling, Reno, Vegas, one-armed bandits, and extravagant shows. But how about no personal income tax, a scant 4.6 percent sales tax, and a great business climate? The state offers 60 hospitals to work in. You’ll be awed by the breathtaking beauty of nearby Lake Tahoe, the wonder of 10,000 year old petroglyphs (rock carvings), and the majesty of Hoover Dam, the second tallest dam in the U.S. Think Nevada and think a great place to work, explore, and enjoy.

 View travel nurse jobs in Nevada

1. California

San Francisco Golden Gate

California comes in at #1 of the top states for nurse pay, with a whopping average salary of $101,260 a year. It has the bragging rights as well to four out of the 20 hospitals named as U.S. News 2019-20 Best Hospitals Honor Roll – more than any other state. With 840 miles of Pacific coastline in places just two hours from mountains, world-class vineyards and teeming fertile farmlands, California’s diversity in resources and people is unmatched and worth exploring.

View travel nurse jobs in California

For more details on the average salary, cost of living, and tax rate in these and the other 40 states, check out’s, The Highest Paying States for RNs (Adjusted for Cost of Living).

Foundation Medical Staffing can help you find the travel nursing job that’s right for you. Give us a call at 877.461.4640 or view today’s travel nurse job openings.

About the author


Kevin Kealey

Kevin Kealey is a marketing writer who’s been with CHG for sixteen years. Prior to joining CHG, Kevin worked as an educator, executive coach, and training consultant for 20+ years. Kevin lives with his wife Suzanne in South Carolina with their three German shepherds, Bailey, Blazer, and Bodie, and a Congo African Grey parrot who goes by the name of Sebastian.

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