2020 Nursing Salary Survey: Salary by State

We look at the salary by state searching for the highest averages and other standout information

After years of evaluating Salary Survey results, certain trends become notable to the point that the highlight of each subsequent survey isn’t the data itself, but those areas in which the trends start to change. We covered one such trend last week, when we saw an almost negligible difference in salaries between members of different racial groups. This week, however, it’s back to the usual reliable information. Yet again, California boasts the highest average salary by state for RNs, with an average figure of $97,702 among our 755 respondents from the Golden State.


For RNs, the trend of Pacific, New England and Mid-Atlantic states boasting the highest average salaries held true in 2020. California’s neighbor to the North, Oregon, was second with an average salary of just over $94K per year (albeit among only 20 responses.) Alaskan RNs, at least the 10 who responded, average $88K per year to finish third among all states.

Moving East, the 247 New York RNs we heard from average salaries around $83,300, while their neighbors in Connecticut broke the $80K barrier as well. Pennsylvania, the second-most common state for responses among RNs with 572 responses, had an average salary of $63,967, well below the national average of just over $70K.

While we received only seven responses from the state’s RNs, Wyoming showed the lowest average salary at just under $34K per year. (It’s important to realize that while these results are usually somewhat reflective of larger trends, answers from seven RNs aren’t enough to make inferences about the entire profession in any state.) Generally speaking, the South and Midwest see lower salaries than more populated coastal states, and that holds true this year among RNs.


State-by-state differences are much more challenging to gauge among APNs and DNPs due to the lesser number of responses, but those same coastal states trend higher in average salaries. The national average for APNs was just $107K, with DNPs just a tick higher at $108,681. Only a handful of states received more than 20 responses from DNPs, led by Texas with 30 responses at an average salary of $113,075. Louisiana, for example, enjoys a remarkably higher average salary at $136K for DNPs, but with only three responses received.

Again, California showed the highest average salary among states with more than 20 responses at just over $138K. By comparison, Illinois had 28 responses averaging out to right around the national average ($108,019).

Switching to APNs, New Yorkers enjoy an average salary of over $164K among 29 responses. Again, coastal states trended higher, but this particular profession showed less variance by state than RNs or APNs. The national average was right at $107K, and a large number of states fell very close to that mark in average salary.


With more than 2,200 responses from NPs this year, we should have enough responses to draw some conclusions about salary trends, particularly in the more populated states. This time, it was the Empire State leading the way with 184 responses, averaging an annual salary of $113,075 (only slightly higher than the national average of $106,107 per year.)

California had the second-most responses among NPs (147) with a well-above-average salary of $127,230. Massachusetts (129 responses) was right on average at $106,960, while Pennsylvania (108) was our highest-response state to fall below the national average with salaries averaging $94,247.

One interesting phenomenon among NPs were the states that were not highly populated, but showed high average salaries from a decent number of responses. For example, Mississippi usually falls toward the lower side of our average salaries, but 16 NPs from the Magnolia State reported an average salary of over $125K, nearly 20 percent above the national average.


We finish where we started – a profession with a high number of responses from the state of California equaling the highest average salary in the nation.

Almost 20 percent (325 of 1660) of our LPN responses came from out West, and they reported an average salary of $59,975, far eclipsing the national average of just below $47K. The ‘why’ is simple enough – California is the most populated and one of the most expensive states in the country, with Sperling’s Best Places rating California’s cost of living at 149.9 on a scale where 100 is average.

This time, Ohio was our second-most popular state for responses with 163 people averaging an annual salary just below $41K in an area far more affordable than the Golden State. Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida also had over 100 responses each, with their average salaries falling below the national average.

Be sure to check out our upcoming Salary Guide for a full breakdown of each state’s number of responses and average salary to see how your state compares to the rest of the nation.

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