7 US States With the Best Salaries for Recent Graduate Nurses

Debra Riley


Dedicating your life to nursing requires patience and responsibility. Nurses must provide quality care for many patients, often from 8 to 12 hours a day. Not to mention the time it takes to become a certified nurse.

But, they need to know that this hard work will be rewarded. There are several states where fresh graduates can start their nursing careers on higher salaries. Today I’m going to list the 7 states with the best salaries for recent graduate nurses.

I’ll also explain some other factors to take into consideration such as cost of living and further career salary progress. Let’s get to it!

7 US States With the Best Salaries for Recent Graduate Nurses


The Golden State remains the best destination for registered nurses. According to the latest data from the US Department of Labor, they earn around $124,000 per year in California. It’s way above the national average and more than enough to save money for debt repayment to an essay writing service they might have used.

Hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose pay registered nurses even more. Note that those without a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree earn little over $65,000 per year.

People with over 20 years of experience and advanced degrees may earn up to $125,000 for the same period. Yet, the high salary is reduced by the steep living costs.


If living in California is not your cup of tea, check out Hawaii. The 50th state offers a $106,530 median salary in the city of Honolulu. But, the earnings vary between $63,000 and $126,000. The state’s healthcare industry is the most well-paying on the archipelago, closely followed by the IT sector.

In addition to salaries, Hawaii is one of the most picturesque and sun-stricken states in the Union. But, like California, it comes with a cost of living 88% higher than the national average.

Most of the land is designated for attractions and resorts. That’s why the housing market is 200% more expensive than the average.


The New England state has the third highest salaries for nurses. It doesn’t share the steep living cost of California and Hawaii. But Massachusetts still pays a lot to registered nurses. The latest data has their median annual salary at $96,630. Depending on your credentials and experience level, this number varies between $56,490 and $131,710.

Such individuals can live in the state’s most populated city. Boston’s living costs are only 17% above the national average. The price of utilities also doesn’t stray far above their average cost across the United States. Massachusetts may be the perfect destination for recent graduate nurses if they don’t mind the 6 months of winter.


California’s northern neighbor offers great opportunities for nurses. On average, Oregon nursing specialists earn $98,630 a year. Recent graduates may get up to $65,080, while more experienced individuals’ income can top $118,540. It’s not too bad considering the low healthcare coverage in the rural state.

Most of its facilities are accumulated in the state capital of Salem and the city of Portland. The state also offers great opportunities for certified nursing assistants. On average, they earn around $38,830 annually with an $18.67 hourly rate. Despite the presence of tech and sportswear giants, the cost of living is about 13% higher than the country’s average.

rising salaries


The most remote state on the northern side of the US offers good salaries to its nurses. That’s because healthcare is both expensive and hard to find in Alaska. Even nurses fresh from school can earn $62,270, while their experienced peers have a $119,210 yearly income. The average median income is $97,230 per year.

Most nurses work at medical outposts, which can be found all over the state or in the city of Anchorage. The state emphasizes hiring nurses with indigenous heritage and experience in rural nursing. It even offers supplemental grant money for professionals who choose to work in Alaska.


Nevada isn’t just the gambling capital of the United States. It offers great opportunities for recent graduate nurses. The state offers a median salary of $88,800. If one desires, it’s possible to look for career opportunities in the state’s capital, Las Vegas. The city of lights and casinos has a living cost that’s only 3% above average due to the high price of transportation.

Las Vegas’s utility bills are 10% lower when compared to prices across the US. The only caveat is that the city heavily relies on the tourism industry. This influences the kind of people that visit the hospitals. It might not be the best place to start your career.

New York

Originally one of the 13 colonies of the United States, New York has great career opportunities for nurses. They enjoy a median income of $93,320. Recent graduates earn up to $54,050 per year. Professionals with more experience get around $117,470 for the same period. There are currently 297,331 registered nurses with a license to work in this state.

It has 8% of the entire number of these specialists in the US. There’s always work to do as the state is the 4th most populous one in the country. Around 40% of its people live in New York City alone. But, it contrasted with a high cost of living that’s 128% higher than the average. NYC housing is infamously costly at a staggering 369% higher rate than other US cities.

nursing graduates


In conclusion, dedicating your life to nursing is a rewarding career option, with many states offering great opportunities for registered nurses. It requires patience, responsibility and hard work to become certified and find employment. The best states for fresh graduates are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.

California offers the highest salary of around $124,000 per year and Hawaii provides a beautiful location alongside a median salary of $106,530 in Honolulu. However their median salaries vary greatly depending on the state’s cost of living. New York State has the fourth highest number of registered nurses in the US but its high cost of living may be prohibitive for some.

If you’re a recent graduate nurse, carefully weigh your options before deciding which state to work in. Take a look at the cost of living, utility bills, and salaries and you’ll surely find the right place to work.