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September 28, 2023

Top States for Nursing Careers

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

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America needs its nurses. Employment opportunities for nurses will grow 9% more than all other occupations between 2016 and 2026. That means you can apply for hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years.

But some places are better for nurses than others. If you want a long, prosperous career in nursing, you must figure out where the top states for nursing careers are. Here is your guide on the best states for nurses. 


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California employs more registered nurses than any other state and has the highest nurse wages. More than 325,000 nurses work in California, earning an hourly wage of $64.10 and an annual wage of $133,340. That’s $20,000 more than Hawaii, the state with the second-highest annual nurse wages

The ten top-paying metropolitan areas for registered nurses are all in California. Nurses living in San Francisco earn $164,760 a year, the highest of any metropolitan area in the country. The Los Angeles metro area has the second-highest employment level of any metropolitan area, with 111,660 working there. 

If you don’t want to live in a city, you can find several nonmetropolitan areas with high salaries, especially if you want a specialized job like a physical therapist. The Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode Region of California is close to the Nevada-California border. 1,140 nurses work there and earn an annual wage of $127,820. Nurses living on the North Coast earn $120,740 a year.  

The main downside to living in California is the high cost of living. California is the third-most expensive state, with a cost of living index of 139.7. This means that items in California cost 39.7% more than the national average. However, you can save money by renting an apartment rather than buying a house. Nonmetropolitan areas tend to have a lower cost of living than metropolitan areas, so you will save money over time by living outside cities.

South Dakota

South Dakota has the highest concentration of nursing jobs of any state. 32.99 nurses work for every 1,000 workers in South Dakota. The state has a location quotient of 1.59, meaning that nursing jobs in South Dakota are 59% more prevalent than the national average. 

Sioux Falls is the most popular place for nurses to work in South Dakota. 45.96 nurses work for every 1,000 workers in the city, and the location quotient is 2.21. Nurses earn an annual salary of $62,780 and an hourly wage of $30.18. While these wages are less than in other cities, Sioux Falls’s cost of living is lower than America’s average cost of living, so you can save thousands of dollars over time. 

South Dakota may seem small, but you can apply for dozens of jobs with local medical providers. Daily Care Solutions can connect you with hospitals, private practices, and other organizations looking for locum tenens nurses. We also offer support to medical providers, including consulting services and flexible staffing solutions. 

Are you a nurse looking for a great locum tenens job in South Dakota? Contact Daily Care Solutions, and we’ll help you apply for dozens of jobs in South Dakota today.

the skyline of New York City

New York

New York is suitable for new nurses and experienced professionals. You can become a registered nurse in New York with only an associate’s degree and a nursing license. Advanced careers like clinical nurse specialists require master’s degrees, but you can get your degree from an online program approved by the State of New York.

Several hospitals in New York receive high rankings from US News and World Report and other institutions. US News ranks New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell in the top 25 hospitals in the country in 24 branches of medicine, including oncology and cardiology. You can apply for many nursing jobs at New York Presbyterian, including dozens of specialized jobs and locum hospitalist positions. 

The New York City metropolitan area has the highest employment level for nurses among metropolitan areas. 182,710 nurses live in the New York City metropolitan area, earning an annual wage of $104,860.

New York can also be expensive to live in, as it has a cost of living index of 126.6. Try to avoid living in New York City, as the cost of living there is the highest of any city in the country. The New York City metropolitan area includes Long Island and Westchester County, which are more affordable places to live than New York City. You can go for locum interviews and work jobs in New York City while commuting from a more affordable area of the state. 

Related: Ace Your Next Locum Interview: Tips and Tricks


63,800 registered nurses work in Minnesota, earning an annual salary of $88,860. Minnesota also has 24,860 nursing assistants, 1,410 nursing instructors and teachers, and 2,460 nursing anesthetists, meaning you can pursue specialized work in the state.

Rochester, Minnesota, has the third-highest nursing job concentration in any metropolitan area. 6,760 nurses work in the Rochester metro area at a rate of 57.57 nurses per 1,000 workers. They earn a median wage of $90,060, which is more than enough to cover the cost of living and pay off medical school debt

Are you moving to Minnesota and need help finding a job quickly? Schedule an appointment with Daily Care Solutions, and we’ll help you prepare applications for locum tenens jobs throughout the state.

the skyline of Boston


Massachusetts has some of the best nursing and medical schools in the world. US News ranks the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College in the top 50 nursing schools in the country. It also ranks the MGH Institute of Health Professions, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Northeastern University in the top 100 schools. You can get a nursing degree, receive continuing education, or work as an adjunct professor at these institutions. 

Massachusetts also has several highly-ranked hospitals you can work at. US News ranks Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the top 50 hospitals in 12 specialties. The nursing department at Brigham and Women’s has won awards from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and other institutions. 

The Boston metropolitan area has one of the country's highest employment levels and annual nurse wages. 70,220 registered nurses work there and earn an annual wage of $106,980. 

Massachusetts is the fourth-highest paying state for registered nurses, with nurses earning $104,150 a year or $50.07 an hour. 

Related: Exploring The Advantages Of Locum Tenens For Physicians

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

Internal Medicine physician with over 10 years of experience in medical staffing solution. Completed medical education and residency in Columbia University. Provided expert oversight to private groups and hospitals. Contracted services organization and Take charge of establishing three hospitalist programs from inception to completion. Develop the scope of practice and negotiate contracts with other departments and specialties. Perform a wide range of tasks including contract negotiations, revenue cycle and human resource management, process improvement, and introduction of interdisciplinary rounding. Drove key efforts toward the reduction of cost of running programs by approximately 15-20%. Identified staffing needs while creating unique staffing plans for programs.

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