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How Compensation for Nurses Varies State by State

Nurse Compensation by State

Nursing is a demanding job and should be compensated accordingly. Nurses are often burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, so finding adequate compensation becomes all the more essential. But some nurses may be surprised to learn that nursing compensation varies widely across the country. Nurses tend to make more money in coastal areas with large population centers and a higher cost of living. Learn more about the regional differences in nursing compensation.

The Different Regions of Nursing

Different Regions of Nursing

The American Hospital Association has divided the U.S. into nine different regions to help us make sense of how nursing compensation varies across the country. Different regions are made up of the following states:

  • Region 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Region 2: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
  • Region 3: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia West Virginia, District of Columbia
  • Region 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico
  • Region 5: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin
  • Region 6: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • Region 7: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Region 8: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
  • Region 9: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Nursing Compensation by Region

Now that we’ve divided the country into different regions, we can start looking at how nursing compensation varies across these areas. The Nursing Salary Research Report shows us the average nursing salary per U.S. region.

  • Region 1: $76,566
  • Region 2: $76,086
  • Region 3: $66,435
  • Region 4: $64,050
  • Region 5: $67,911
  • Region 6: $62,634
  • Region 7: $71,649
  • Region 8: $75,339
  • Region 9: $97,708

Based on these findings, we can see that nurses in the Pacific region tend to make anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 more than their peers in other parts of the country. There are several different reasons as to why this may be the case. The cost of living tends to be higher in states like California, Oregon and Washington, which means nurses will need more compensation to pay for housing, food and transportation. For instance, the median home value in California is $477,500, which is far above the national average.

The report also shows us that nursing compensation is the lowest in the Midwest. States like North and South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota, and Nebraska tend to have a much lower cost of living compared to more coastal regions like California, New York and New Jersey. For instance, the median home value in Nebraska is just $148,100.

How Nurses Can Use This Information to Their Advantage

Nurses can use this information when deciding where they want to live and work. If a nurse is saddled with more student debt than their peers, they may be better off working in a state like California, the Southwest, or New England. However, nurses looking for a lower cost of living and an affordable mortgage can stretch their money further in states like Indiana, Missouri, and the Dakotas if they’re willing to work for less money.

This data shows us how nursing compensation varies across the country. Nurses can make more money for their time in coastal regions and the Southwest. If they can find an affordable living situation, this can help them pay off their student loans faster than if they were working in the Midwest.


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