These Are the Best States for Nurses in 2018
Make your next move based on the states that offer RNs the best salaries, job opportunities, and overall quality of life.
Image via Unsplash.com/John-Mark Smith
The United States is currently in the throes of a nursing shortage, which naturally presents nurses with unprecedented opportunities for career growth and mobility. That said, these opportunities will differ from state to state, so the real question is: Which states will give nurses the BEST chances for professional—and personal—satisfaction?
There have been a number of studies done to address this topic, so we decided to make things easier by collecting all of their key insights into one place. Specifically, we focused on studies that ranked states on three key factors: RN job availability, RN salaries, and overall quality of life.
Below, we’ve provided ranked lists of the top 10 states for each category, as well as the relevant data points that contributed to each state’s rank.
The 10 States With the Greatest Need for RNs
First, we wanted to know which states have the greatest need for RNs–or, in other words, which states will have the most RN jobs available.
The following list is from a 2017 Nurse.org report on the states with the highest demand for RNs. For their report, they looked at the U.S. Health and Human Resources Administration’s (HRSA)’s projections for RN supply and demand in 2030 and then ranked the states in order of shortage to surplus. You’ll notice that the last three states are projected to have a small surplus, so the job markets should be more competitive than those of the other seven states.
2030 RN Supply (Total # of Working RNs): 343,400 2030 RN Demand (Total # of RNs Needed): 387,900 Shortage: -44,500 RNs
2030 RN Supply: 253,400 2030 RN Demand: 269,300 Shortage: -15,900 RNs
3. New Jersey
2030 RN Supply: 90,800 2030 RN Demand: 102,200 Shortage: -11,400 RNs
4. South Carolina
2030 RN Supply: 52,100 2030 RN Demand: 62,500 Shortage: -10,400 RNs
2030 RN Supply: 18,400 2030 RN Demand: 23,800 Shortage: -5,400 RNs
2030 RN Supply: 98,800 2030 RN Demand: 101,000 Shortage: -2,200 RNs
7. South Dakota
2030 RN Supply: 11,700 2030 RN Demand: 13,600 Shortage: -1,900 RNs
2030 RN Supply: 12,300 2030 RN Demand: 12,100 Surplus: +200 RNs
9. North Dakota
2030 RN Supply: 9,900 2030 RN Demand: 9,200 Surplus: +700 RNs
10. New Hampshire
2030 RN Supply: 21,300 2030 RN Demand: 20,200 Surplus: +1,100 RNs
The 10 Highest-Paying States for Registered Nurses
Once we knew which states had the most job availability, we then wanted to focus on where RNs could earn the highest salaries.
Nightingale College published a handy guide on RN salaries by state, which included figures for average salaries adjusted for each state’s cost of living. The data was based on 2017 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and cost of living data from Numbeo.
Below, you’ll find a list of the top 10 highest-paying states for RNs, in order of highest salary to lowest and adjusted for each state’s cost of living.
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $80,986
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $78,415
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $78,412
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $77,773
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $76,239
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $74,143
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $74,109
8. New Mexico
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $73,402
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $72,891
Average RN Salary (Adjusted): $71,830
The 10 Best States for RNs’ Quality of Life
After we identified the best states for RN career stability and salary potential, we turned our attention to the states that could provide RNs with the highest quality of life.
U.S. News & World Report published their “Best States for Quality of Life in 2018” ranking, which was based on each state’s scores for two categories: A “Natural Environment” score (e.g., drinking water quality, air quality) and a “Social Environment” score (e.g., community engagement, social support). States that made the top of the list do the best job of promoting their residents’ well-being. Below, we’ve provided the 10 states that made the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list.
Want to go to nursing school in one of these states? We also added the top three undergraduate and graduate nursing programs to the list, based on Niche.com’s and U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the country’s top undergraduate and master’s in nursing programs, respectively. (https://www.itsacinch.com/disclaimer/).
1. North Dakota
Top 3 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Programs: North Dakota State University; University of Jamestown; University of North Dakota Top 3 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs: North Dakota State University; University of Mary; University of North Dakota
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; St. Olaf College; Gustavus Adolphus College Top 3 MSN Programs: St. Catherine University; Minnesota State University – Moorhead; Augsburg College
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of Wisconsin; Milwaukee School of Engineering; Marquette University Top 3 MSN Programs: Marquette University; University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee; University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
4. New Hampshire
Top 3 BSN Programs: Saint Anselm College; University of New Hampshire; Rivier University Top 3 MSN Programs: Franklin Pierce University; Rivier University; Southern New Hampshire University
5. South Dakota
Top 3 BSN Programs: Augustana University; University of South Dakota; South Dakota State University Top 2 MSN Programs: South Dakota State University - Brookings; Mount Marty College
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of Mississippi; Mississippi College; William Carey University Top 3 [MSN Programs:](https://nursejournal.org/msn-degree/mississippi-msn/) Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Mississippi University for Women
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of Arkansas; Harding University; Arkansas Tech University Top 3 MSN Programs: University of Arkansas; University of Central Arkansas; Harding University
8. New Mexico
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; Brookline College - Albuquerque Top 3 MSN Programs: New Mexico State University; Eastern New Mexico University; University of New Mexico
Top 3 BSN Programs: University of Iowa; Luther College; Dordt College Top 3 MSN Programs: University of Iowa; Briar Cliff University; Allen College
Top 3 BSN Programs: Regis University; University of Colorado – Denver; University of Colorado – Colorado Springs Top 3 MSN Programs: University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus; University of Colorado – Colorado Springs; University of Northern Colorado
Unfortunately, no one state has it all. While Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wisconsin all landed within the top 10 for highest RN salaries and best quality of life, each missed the mark when it came to greatest need for RNs. And although Georgia and Texas both ranked high on the list in terms of RN demand and salary potential, they fell to the middle and bottom of the pack for quality of life scores. Then there’s New Hampshire and both North and South Dakota: These states offer RNs great job opportunities and quality of life, but they don’t do nearly as well when it comes to salary.
Not one state has it all (yet), but be sure to check out this table of all 50 states (and, where possible, Washington D.C.) to see where they land within each category. As for your job search, it may make compromising in one category a tad easier if the state only narrowly missed making the top 10. Just keep in mind that they’re ranked 1-51, with #1 signifying the “best” state and #51 signifying the “worst” state.
|State||“Most Demand for RNs” Rank||“Highest RN Salaries” Rank||“Quality of Life” Rank|
|District of Columbia||N/A||50||N/A|
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Cinch™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice. For our full disclaimer, click [here](https://www.itsacinch.com/disclaimer/).
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