So You Want to Be a Nurse? Top States to Consider in 2024


Kim Lee | March 22nd, 2024

Hey there, future Florence Nightingales! The nursing field is booming, and for good reason. Nurses are the backbone of the medical field, providing critical care to patients in all sorts of settings. But with so many amazing states to choose from, where do you even begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This guide will explore some of the most popular states for nurses in 2024, considering factors like salary, job growth, and overall lifestyle. 

Let’s Talk Money: States with High Pay for Nurses 

Alright, let’s be honest, salary is a big deal. If you’re putting in the hard work, you deserve to be compensated well. So, which states offer the biggest bucks for nurses? 

  • West Coast Winners: California takes the crown for the highest average nurse salary, with Hawaii and Oregon following closely behind. California boasts an impressive average of $133,340, while Hawaii and Oregon offer nurses an average of $106,530 and $98,630 respectively. 
    Link. However, it’s important to remember that a high cost of living often comes with a high salary. So, while that California paycheck might sound enticing, factor in housing costs before packing your bags.
  • Non-Coastal Gems: Don’t count out the hidden gems! Places like Washington D.C., Maryland, and New Jersey also offer attractive salaries for nurses. While they might not quite match the West Coast’s top earners, they often come with a more manageable cost of living. 

Looking for Growth? Top States with High Job Outlook 

A secure job with plenty of opportunities for advancement is a dream come true, especially for new nurses. So, where’s the action? 

  • Desert Delights: Buckle up for sunshine and opportunity! Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada are projected to experience some of the highest job growth for nurses in the coming years. These states are actively seeking qualified nurses to fill positions, making them a great option for those who want to step right into a rewarding career. 
  • Southern Hospitality with Growth: If you’re looking for a warm welcome and plenty of jobs, states like Georgia, Idaho, and Texas could be a great fit. The South is experiencing a growing need for nurses, and these states offer a good mix of affordability and job opportunities. 

Travel Nurses Rejoice: Top Paying States for Travel Nurses 

Feeling the wanderlust? Travel nursing can be a fantastic way to explore new places while using your valuable nursing skills. But which states offer the best travel nurse salaries? 

  • Golden State, Golden Opportunities: California retains its top spot for travel nurses too. With a high demand for nurses and competitive pay rates, California is a prime location for travel nurses looking to maximize their earnings. 
  • Island Paradise with a Paycheck: Hawaii isn’t just a beautiful vacation spot; it’s also a lucrative destination for travel nurses. With a high cost of living and a constant need for skilled nurses, Hawaii offers some of the highest travel nurse salaries in the country. 

Beyond the Paycheck: What Else to Consider 

While salary and job growth are important, they’re not the only factors to consider when choosing where to build your nursing career. Here are some other things to keep in mind: 

  • Cost of Living: A high salary can quickly disappear in a state with a high cost of living. Research housing costs, taxes, and other expenses before you make a move. 
  • Lifestyle: Do you crave bustling city life or the peacefulness of a small town? Consider your ideal lifestyle and choose a state that aligns with your preferences. 
  • Work Environment: Research the types of healthcare facilities available in your chosen state. Hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities all offer different work environments and career paths. 

Making the Move: Additional Resources for Nurses 

Ready to take the next step? Here are some resources to help you on your journey: 

  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN): https://www.ncsbn.org/ This website provides information on nurse licensure requirements for each state. 
  • American Nurses Association (ANA): https://www.nursingworld.org/ The ANA offers a wealth of resources for nurses, including career guidance and information on specific nursing specialties. 

The Perfect State Awaits! 

There’s no single “best” state for nurses – it all depends on your individual priorities. By considering salary, job growth, cost of living, and lifestyle, you can find the perfect state to launch your rewarding and exciting nursing career! So, get out there, explore your options, and start making a difference in people’s lives! 


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