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Carrington College Blog

Best states to work as an RN

September 19, 2013

If you're studying to be an RN, consider working in one of these states.As you near the end of your registered nursing program, it’s time to start thinking about where you would like to begin your nursing career. When you take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), you have to submit an application for licensure to the board of nursing in the state in which you wish to work.It’s a good idea to think about where you might want to live prior to taking the test so you don’t have to deal with the process of transferring your license. Not sure where you want to live after graduation? How about one of the top five states to be an RN?

1. California

If you’re in the process of becoming an RN, California is one of the best states to work as a nurse. According to U.S. News & World Report, the top five cities for nursing salaries are all in California. The average annual salaries for nurses in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Salinas and Napa all exceed $97,000.2

2. New Jersey

If you prefer living on the East Coast (the second-highest paying region for RNs), then New Jersey is a great option. Surprisingly, nurses in the Garden State have a higher average hourly salary (approximately $23) than those in New York. In fact, nearly 75,000 RNs in New Jersey earn salaries higher than the national average.3

3. New York

Of course, RNs in New York also do very well.  On average, nurses in New York state make $72,790 per year. However, if you work in New York City you make more than $90,000.4

4. Texas

Unsurprisingly, the second largest state in the county has plenty of job opportunities for RNs – there are nearly 185,000 employed within the borders of Texas.5 While nurses in this state only earn an average of $64,670 per year, it can be a great place to live and work if you are just starting out.6

5. Pennsylvania

Back on the East Coast, Pennsylvania is a popular state for RNs, with more than 130,000 registered nurses living and working there.7 On average, RNs in Pennsylvania make $63,600 per year, although salaries can fluctuate depending on specialty.8

1 National Council of State Boards of Nursing, ‘Application & Registration,’ 2013 –
2 U.S. News & World Report, ‘Registered Nurse: Salary,’ 2013 –
HEALTHeCAREERS, ‘Top 10 States to be a Nurse,’ Jan. 16, 2013 –
4 Nursing License Map, ‘Nurse Salary,’ 2012 –
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Occupational Employment and Wages – Registered Nurses,’ May 2011 –
6 Nursing License Map, ‘Nurse Salary,’ 2012 –
7 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Occupational Employment and Wages – Registered Nurses,’ May 2011 –
8 Nursing License Map, ‘Nurse Salary,’ 2012 –

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