How Much Does a Nurse Make? You Owe It To Yourself To Know These Averages

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Researching salaries for a career is an important step. You want to make sure that you get a good return on your college investment. So how much does a nurse make on average?

While money should not be the main motivator for becoming a nurse, the nursing career does in fact provide a largely comfortable lifestyle for most Americans. The average national salary for a registered nurse in America was $82,750 in 2021.

Now before we move onto our list of how much does a nurse make in America, we also want to mention that we are going to include the average cost to buy a home in these states. This will help give you a better picture of what the cost of living in that state is before you start packing up to move there.

It is important to mention that money should not be the main motivator in becoming a nurse. This is because it is a very demanding job. It can be very physically and emotionally taxing. But, if you like working with the public, helping people, and working a 3 to 4 day work week, this could be a great path for you.

So, let’s look at how all 50 states compare to the national average in America for how much nurses make.

We used the source U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics to gather our salary data, and Experian to gather our median housing price data.

How Much Does a Nurse Make, on Average, in America?

Our First 12 States:

StateAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly WageMedian House Price
Alabama$61,920$29.77$134,300
Alaska$97,230$46.74$326,000
Arizona$81,600$39.23$257,600
Arkansas$65,810$31.64$129,500
California$124,000$59.62$550,800
Colorado$80,670$38.78$381,300
Connecticut$88,530$42.56$244,800
Delaware$77,760$37.39$236,300
Florida$72,000$34.62$237,900
Georgia$73,380$36.24$193,500
Hawaii$106,530$51.22$619,000
Idaho$73,640$35.41$274,200

Our income to expenses ratio thoughts:

So, I am not a financial analyst. I am not a statistician. But I think it’s safe to say that although the salaries in California and Hawaii are impressive, look at the median price of a home in those states. That is 5 to 6 times a nurse’s salary!

If I were looking to relocate after I became an RN, while also keeping quality of life in mind, I would say Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, and Idaho are looking pretty attractive here. Those are for the main reasons of good income to expenses ratio, beautiful scenery and usually lots to do.

Our next 15 States on our how much nurses make list:

StateAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly WageMedian House Price
Illinois$78,260$37.63$183,500
Indiana$68,890$33.12$148,700
Iowa$64,990$31.25$146,500
Kansas$66,560$32.00$141,500
Kentucky$67,260$32.34$148,400
Louisiana$70,380$33.84$147,600
Maine$73,630$35.40$237,800
Maryland$82,660$39.74$290,500
Massachusetts$96,630$46.46$408,100
Michigan$75,930$36.51$154,500
Minnesota$84,030$40.40$239,900
Mississippi$63,130$30.35$130,200
Missouri$67,790$32.59$163,700
Montana$73,610$35.39$242,100
Nebraska$69,850$33.58$169,900

Our income to expenses ratio thoughts:

I first want to mention that it is nice to see that in the states where nurses are making in the $60K range, the median house price is extremely affordable. So there is no doubt that a nursing salary can provide a very comfortable life in the lower-income states.

The states that are looking attractive to me though, for relocation purposes, are Maine, and Maryland. The income looks reasonable, and I have personally been to those states. They are beautiful with lots of fun things to do.

Our next 15 States on our how much nurses make list:

StateAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly WageMedian House Price
Nevada$88,800$42.69$291,800
New Hampshire$78,270$37.63$280,400
New Jersey$89,690$43.12$329,000
New Mexico$77,590$37.31$197,400
New York$93,320$44.86$305,300
North Carolina$71,200$34.23$189,900
North Dakota$71,200$34.23$210,000
Ohio$71,640$34.44$142,600
Oklahoma$68,180$32.78$125,400
Oregon$98,630$47.42$350,600
Pennsylvania$76,000$36.54$176,500
Rhode Island$85,270$40.99$284,200
South Carolina$69,580$33.45$170,700
South Dakota$60,540$29.11$194,700
Tennessee$66,680$32.06$170,800

Our income to expenses ratio thoughts:

My totally biased opinion on which states are looking attractive to me, for relocation purposes are: Nevada, New Hampshire (gorgeous state), and New Mexico.

Why? Well, Nevada is a growing state, with lots of nice new-build homes and a ton to do. New Hampshire is one of the most beautiful states I have ever been to. New Mexico is impressive because the income is pretty high considering their median housing costs, and there are some really pretty places up north in the state.

Our final 8 States on our how much nurses make list:

StateAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly WageMedian House Price
Texas$79,120$38.04$199,900
Utah$72,790$34.99$351,100
Vermont$75,160$36.13$210,600
Virginia$76,680$36.87$264,200
Washington$95,350$45.84$393,800
West Virginia$67,640$32.52$99,000
Wisconsin$76,850$36.95$191,600
Wyoming$73,130$35.16$236,100

Our income to expenses ratio thoughts:

Again, totally biased here. But I would totally relocate to Texas. Lol. In all honestly, that is where I relocated to, so take it with a grain of salt. However, that is a pretty nice looking ratio if I do say so myself.

The other attractive looking states on this list to me are Vermont, and possibly West Virginia if you were looking for a crazy affordable place to live.

In conclusion:

As you can see, there are many more factors to look into when researching how much money a nurse makes. How much does it cost to buy a home? What is the average cost of rent? How much do food, utilities, and gas cost in the area?

Regardless, there is no doubt about it. With a nurse’s salary, you can afford to live just about anywhere in the country. When it comes to states like California, Hawaii, and New York, if you have a partner or second stream of income, you could still probably live a comfortable lifestyle there.

If you are here looking for some motivation to keep going in your nursing journey, read our article we wrote here about a few famous people who never gave up on their dreams.

Let us know in the comments below, which states look attractive to you regarding the ratio of income and expenses?

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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