It’s a good idea to consider all the statistics when considering where you should work as a nurse. Of course, some of the decisions may be made for you. For instance, if you don’t want to relocate your family, you probably won’t consider moving to the other side of the country for a job. But there are other factors to consider as well, such as whether or not to work in a general hospital or physician’s office, and whether or not you should branch out into fields not directly related to nursing.
Average Wages by Work Setting
There are about 2.6 million registered nurses in the United States. The median wage among them is $31.48 per hour, or $65,470. Those in the lowest 10% make $21.65 per hour, or $45,040 a year, while those in the top 10% make $45.54 per hour, or $94,720 a year. How much you can make as a registered nurse will depend on a variety of factors, including where you work, in what setting you work, and how long you have been a nurse. You can make the most as a nurse working in fields not directly related to nursing, such as if you carry your expertise over into wholesale electronics markets, working as an agent or broker, where you make $86,510 a year. People who work for the federal government or as an instructor at a college or university also make higher than average incomes – $79,270 and $74,540, respectively. As far as typical medical settings for nurses, those who work in specialty hospitals, with the exception of psychiatric or substance abuse settings, make the most at $73,610 a year. This is followed by outpatient care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, home healthcare services, and then physician offices. Nurses working at skilled nursing facilities make the least, at $61,220 a year.
Average Wages by Geography
The states with the highest employment level of nurses are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
The highest employment by metropolitan area is New York, followed by Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Phoenix. As would be expected, the areas that have the most and the biggest hospitals employ the most nurses. However, this is not the same as the location quotient for nurses, which essentially refers to the amount of jobs per 1,000 that are made up of nursing positions. The states with the highest location quotients are South Dakota, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Missouri, and Massachusetts. By metropolitan area, the cities with the highest location quotients are Rochester, Minnesota; Gainesville, Florida; Jackson, Missouri; Lima, Ohio; and Greenville, North Carolina. This list, too, is different from the states and cities that offer the highest average wages for registered nurses. The states with the highest wages are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon. The cities with the highest incomes are all in California – San Jose; Vallejo; Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Your decision on where to work, however, might not be so straightforward as reading a list. For example, even though it is clear that you can make a lot of money living in California, the cost of living is also higher in many places in the state. And even though you might think you would have a better chance of working in a high employment area like New York or Chicago, the overall populations are higher as well, meaning you’ll have more competition for work.