The Top Four States to Start a Nursing Career

With a projected need of 1,001,000 nurses in the United States between now and 2016, it has never been a better time to get a nursing degree. A degree from an accredited university allows you to write your own ticket anywhere in the country, all you need to decide is where. There are a variety of factors that go into making a move, but you want a job that pays well, is in demand, and is in a place that fits your lifestyle. Here are four states that have the best combination of wages, job growth, and overall appeal for nurses.

1. California

The Golden State comes in at number one on the list for its high wages, strong growth projection, and attractions. California is long famed for its beautiful weather, vast array of natural attractions, and exciting nightlife. San Diego and San Francisco are favorites among young professionals looking to move to California.

Starting Wage: $24.59/hr

Projected growth through 2020: 79,000 jobs at +23%

Why nurses should move there: Where else can you see movie stars walking down the street?

2. Hawaii

Hawaii has sandy beaches, beautiful weather, and is consistently ranked in the number 1 or 2 spots as the happiest state in the Union. Nurses will enjoy a year round vacation surrounded by volcanoes and marine wildlife. As one of the number one vacation destinations in the world, the real question is, who wouldn’t want to move to Hawaii?

Starting Wage: $21.39/hr

Projected growth through 2020:  1,500 jobs at +16%

Why nurses should move there: It really is one of the most relaxed places in the world.


If you find the east coast more appealing than tropical paradises, then Massachusetts is the best choice for you. None of the other New England states come close to starting wages, and you still have access to all the lobster and seafood you can eat.

Starting Wages: $25.12/hr

Projected growth through 2020: 20,450 +16%

Why you should move there: A quarter of a million young people live in the Boston Cambridge area, making it the youngest metropolitan area in the nation.

4. Alaska

If you are more of a thrill seeker, then maybe a journey to the Last Frontier is more your style. Alaska has a stable economy, and in many places is not nearly as cold as you think. Anchorage, for example, has warm summers, but still offers tons of outdoor adventures. Either way, Alaska is surrounded by natural beauty and is an outdoor person’s dream.

Starting Wage: $21.38/hr

Projected growth through 2020: 780 jobs at +27%

Why you should move there: Mountains, fishing, and winter sports!

All of these four states are great places for a nurse to call home. There are plenty of states to choose from, but you should find out which one is the best for you. Getting a degree in nursing is easier than ever with online nursing programs that you can take from your couch. When all is said and done, all you need to decide is which paradise is right for you.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.