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Highest Paid Nurses in the USA: Where Registered Nurses Earn the Most

Updated on January 18, 2019
By TimeForNurses
By TimeForNurses | Source

© 2018 by Aurelio Locsin.

In hospitals, clinics and health centers, registered nurses (RNs) interact with patients far more times than doctors. In addition to medical skills needed to treat patients, educate their families, and perform diagnostic procedures, RNs must also show caring, sympathy, understanding, and offer good communication. In short, they require superb bedside manners to succeed in earning the highest salaries. The U.S. Department of Labor reveals where registered nurses earn the highest pay.


The nation’s 2.9 million registered nurses earn a median of $33.65 per hour or $70,000 per year for the entire country. However, wages can range from a low of $23.41 per hour or $48,690 per year to a high of $50.05 per hour or $104,100 per year. Jobs for RNs are expected to grow by 15 percent until 2026 states the BLS, which is much faster than average.


The state with the highest population, California, also offered the most job opportunities for registered nurses at 282,290 positions. Salaries here were also the highest for the profession at a mean $49.37 per hour or $102,700 per year. Other top-paying states are Hawaii at $96,990 per year, the District of Columbia (which the BLS classifies as a state) at $90,110, Massachusetts at $89,330 and Oregon at $88,770. Except for California, none of these top-paying states correlate with those having the most jobs, which are Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Salaries in these states range from $64,890 to $83,450 per year.


The metropolitan areas with the most jobs are New York with 122,780 positions, Los Angeles with 79,420, Chicago with 75,320, Houston with 51,610, and Boston with 43,150. These areas differ from the cities with the highest pay, which are all in California. They are San Francisco at $139,700, Salinas at $129,940, San Jose at $129,140, Santa Cruz at $124,470, and Vallejo at 119,830. Employment numbers here range from a low of 1,430 positions in Napa to a high of 19,550 in Oakland, which are far lower than the numbers of the high employment cities.


With almost 1.7 million positions, general medical and surgical hospitals have the most jobs for registered nurses, followed by doctors’ offices with 196,040 jobs, home health care services with 179,310, nursing care facilities with 155,450 and outpatient care centers with 132,020. The best salaries were in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing at $90,510, accounting and payrolls services at $89,050, the Federal Executive Branch at $87,030, business schools and training for computers and management at $86,990 and wholesale electronic markets and agents at $83,190.

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© 2011 Aurelio Locsin


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    • gmmurgirl profile image

      Shan Moore 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Alocsin, that is a very well-put and informative hub about nurses. No wonder most of the nurses in my country would opt to work as RN in the US. Thanks much!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      7 years ago from Asia

      Having just written a hub about becoming a nurse, this was an interesting read. Although I knew the salaries could be quite good, I was unaware that they went that high!

      Shared, up, interesting, pinned and tweeted.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Absolutely right, Peggy W. Unfortunately, the BLS statistics don't include cost of living, otherwise we'd get a more accurate picture of what a salary is really worth in an area.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      While some of those higher salaries sound great, the cost of living also must be taken into account. Some of those high paying states also have extremely high housing costs, for example. Nursing is a great profession! Here is to all past, present and future nurses! May they be happy wherever they choose to live and work. Voting this interesting and useful.


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