2018 Nurse Salary Results by State/Region

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A deeper look into your answers

Last week, we released an overall picture of the results from our 2018 Salary Survey, offering an overview of many different areas and demographics. This week, we start our series of closer looks by category.

Average Salary by State/Region

Last week, we disclosed our finding that the West region (comprised of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) had the highest average full-time salary at just over $102,000. California, the highest-paying state at just over $106,000, received almost 1,500 responses.

But it’s not just the Golden State—of the five highest-paying states, four of them (California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah) are in the West region. The one out-of-region state to crack the Top 5 (Oregon, defined as Northwest region) borders two Western states.

The Northeast (defined as the six New England states) was the second-highest paying region at an average full-time salary of $94,559. From there, the order was as follows:

  • Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming): $90,113
  • Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania): $88,077
  • South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia): $78,551
  • Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin): $76,641

The corresponding chart shows a state-by-state breakdown, with darker shading indicating higher average salaries from California (average full-time salary $106,865) and lighter shading indicating lower average salaries, (West Virginia was our lowest-paying state, at an average salary of $63,416).

Average Salary by State (2018)

AVERAGE SALARY BY REGION (2018) As you can see, there is a good deal of consistency by region (notice the dark shading throughout the aforementioned West), but also some cases where 1–2 states stand out as exceptions—good or bad—from the rest of their region. For example, look at the disparity in neighboring South Dakota and Nebraska, two states where we saw a difference of over $32,000 in average salaries. The question comes down to number of respondents, and the categories or demographics into which each respondent falls.

Generally speaking, big-picture data tends to coordinate with similar studies, but the deeper we dove into each demographic, the more questions arose. The two highest-paying regions (West and Northeast) make sense, as these two regions of the country have notoriously high costs of living. But does the average nursing professional in South Dakota really earn almost 50 percent more than a Nebraska counterpart? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salaries for RNs in the two states are almost identical.

The answer lies in our number of respondents from each state—216 nursing professionals from Nebraska responded to our survey, as opposed to only 14 South Dakotans. As we discussed last week with regard to specialization, the more responses we received in a particular category, the more statistically significant the information tends to be. In terms of salaries by state, in this case the numbers from 216 Nebraskans does resemble the numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But where the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics only considers the salaries of RNs, the ADVANCE Salary Survey includes the full scope of nursing from LPNs to nurse practitioners. Of course, we will be looking closer at that data later in the series.

So other factors should be considered, specifically the fact that seven of our 14 (50 percent) respondents from South Dakota are nurse practitioners, one of the highest-paying job titles in our 2018 Salary Survey. Only 14 of the 216 responses from Nebraska (about 6.5 percent) came from nurse practitioners. So there’s something to be said for not only how many people respond, but who responds as well.

Read more about the 2018 salary results here

Coming soon…An interactive salary map by state!

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About Author

Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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