Best Places to Work as a Nurse

As the baby boomer generation turns grayer and grayer, the need for nurses continues to explode. According to NursingLink, the United States will need more than a million nurses by 2016.

With such a shortage, nurses have their pick of the best places to work. Finding the right fit isn’t always easy with so many alternatives, however. Most nurses define the “best” place in terms of income, training and job advancement, attractiveness of the surroundings, or the opportunity to avoid falling into a professional rut.


It tops many nurses’ list. NursingLink says the states that pay nurses the most are California ($25.45 per hour on average), Hawaii ($24.76), Massachusetts ($23.38), New Jersey ($23.33) and Alaska ($23.09). Close behind are Delaware ($22.98), Oregon ($22.91), Nevada ($22.83), Maryland ($22.79), and Connecticut ($22.62).

States that pay the worst include South Dakota ($16.35), Iowa ($16.36), Mississippi ($16.42), Arkansas ($16.44), and West Virginia ($16.52). Slightly better are Kansas ($16.74), Oklahoma ($16.76), Wyoming ($16.88), Louisiana ($17.50), and North Dakota ($17.60).

Training and Advancement

Overall, the best opportunities for getting specialized training and advancing on a nursing career path occur in large medical centers and teaching facilities. Huge employers such as the Inova Health System offer detailed nursing career ladders.

Geography also plays a big factor in nursing openings. California tops the list of the 10 states with the largest average annual job openings with 10,900. Others on the list include Florida (7,440), New York (6,360), Ohio (4,630), North Carolina (4,093), Illinois (4,020), New Jersey (3,700), Michigan (3,500), Georgia (3,340), and Massachusetts (3,290).

Nurses who want to avoid the 10 states with the least job openings should steer clear of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, Hawaii, Delaware, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. Their average vacancies range from 210 to 570.

Local Surroundings

For a nurse who hates the cold, Minnesota probably isn’t the best place to work. She might adore Hawaii, Texas, or California, however.

Family needs often play a big part in determining how attractive an area appears. Nurses with children frequently gravitate toward large medical facilities where they’re able to work 12-hour shifts. The availability of part-time work often helps with child care.

If a nurse likes working with the elderly, she’s wise to choose a locale where many of the patients are seniors, such as Florida or Arizona.

Working for the Federal government could be a good choice if ample benefits and stability are important. Federal nursing jobs are posted at this site.

Avoiding a Rut

When frequent change in responsibilities or environment is energizing, working as a traveling nurse can be a good bet. A number of web sites such as TravelNursing post openings throughout the country. Nurses work for an agency that places them in their choice of short- or long-term assignments. This is a great option for retirees who are ready to pack their bags a few times a year and for any nurse wanting a change of scenery from time to time.

The current and projected occupational outlook for nurses allows each one to customize the definition of the best place to work.


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