INDUSTRY
April 29, 2018

Updated 2018: Happiest States For Registered Nurses

As nurses, it is our job to work to make others happy. But, what about your own happiness? The state you live in could be affecting your overall happiness especially when it comes to your work-life. 

That’s why we analyzed several factors to determine which states offer nurses the highest rate of happiness - then, we ranked them.

The ranking results are based on the following factors: 

1) Best states for quality of life 

U.S News looked at several factors within the overall quality of life indicator of social environment and natural environment by state and ranked each state. 

2) Nurse salaries (adjusted for the cost of living)

To calculate the highest paying states and adjust for cost of living, we took the average annual cost of living for a single adult in the United States ($28,4581), multiplied it by the Cost of Living Index2, and then subtracted that amount from the average nurse's salary for that state. States were then re-ranked by salaries adjusted for cost of living.

3) Nursing demand: surplus vs. shortage

We took a look at the nursing demand projections for all 50 states based on the latest report from the US Health Resources and Services Administration. 

4) Average hospital ratings

Lastly, we pulled data from our over 65,000 anonymous hospital reviews left by nurses. We then sifted through all the reviews to determine which states had the best ratings. 

Take a look to see where each state ranks in our nurse happiness study: 

#50 West Virginia

  • Quality of life: #45
  • Average RN salary: $58,010.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living: #47
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +4700 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 78%

#49 Alabama

  • Quality of life ranking: #35
  • Average RN salary: $56,890.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #46
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +5300 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 85%

#48 Indiana

  • Quality of life ranking: #48
  • Average RN salary: $58,910.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #32
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +14,000 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 85%

#47 Vermont

  • Quality of life ranking: #26
  • Average RN salary: $65,840
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #45
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +6800 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#46 Tennessee 

  • Quality of life ranking: #28
  • Average RN salary: $57,560
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #42
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +8400 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 83%

#45 Louisiana

  • Quality of life: #42
  • Average RN salary: $62,450
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #29
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +2300 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#44 South Carolina

  • Quality of life ranking: #30
  • Average RN salary: $61,110
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #39
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -10,400 (shortage)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 85%

#43 North Carolina

  • Quality of life ranking: #34
  • Average RN salary: $60,460
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #34
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +16,500 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#42 Kentucky 

  • Quality of life ranking: #27
  • Average RN salary: $58,770
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #38
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +10,500 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 80%

#41 Pennsylvania

  • Quality of life ranking: #44
  • Average RN salary: $67,550
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #21
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +8200 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 82%

#40 Virginia

  • Quality of life ranking: 41
  • Average RN salary: $65,340
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #24
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +22,700 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 83%

#39 Ohio

  • Quality of life ranking: #40
  • Average RN salary: $62,800
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #25
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +49,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#38 Florida

  • Quality of life ranking: #33
  • Average RN salary: $63,960
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #27
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +53,700 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 83%

#37 Kansas

  • Quality of life ranking: #16
  • Average RN salary: $57,410
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #44
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +12,600 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#36 Iowa

  • Quality of life ranking: #9
  • Average RN salary: $55,040
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #49
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +10,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 84%

#35 Illinois

  • Quality of life ranking: #47
  • Average RN salary: $69760
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #12
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3600 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#34 Connecticut 

  • Quality of life ranking: #38
  • Average RN salary: $77,330.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #18
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3,500 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 82%

#33 New Jersey

  • Quality of life ranking: #49
  • Average RN salary: $79,840.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #7
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -11,400 (shortage) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#32 South Dakota

  • Quality of life ranking: #5
  • Average RN salary: $55,100.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #50
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -1,900 (shortage)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#31 Maryland

  • Quality of life ranking: #31
  • Average RN salary: $73,200.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #22
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +12,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 82%

#30 New York

  • Quality of life ranking: #37
  • Average RN salary: $78,950.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #17
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +18,200 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 84%

#29 Georgia

  • Quality of life ranking: #32
  • Average RN salary: $63,190.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #23
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -2,200 (shortage) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 87%

#28 Maine

  • Quality of life ranking: #12
  • Average RN salary: $64,310.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #41
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +4,700 (surplus)
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 83%

#27 Nebraska

  • Quality of life ranking: #14
  • Average RN salary: $58,970.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #37
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3,500 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 80%

#26 Texas

  • Quality of life ranking: #46
  • Average RN salary: $68,890.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #8
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -15,900 (shortage) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#25 Utah

  • Quality of life ranking: #22
  • Average RN salary: $68,890.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #30
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +4,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#24 Oklahoma

  • Quality of life ranking: #17
  • Average RN salary: $59,040.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #33
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +5,500 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#23 Arkansas

  • Quality of life ranking: #7
  • Average RN salary: $56,870.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #43
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +9,800 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#22 Hawaii

  • Quality of life ranking: #36
  • Average RN salary: $90,130.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #13
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3,300 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#21 North Dakota

  • Quality of life ranking: #1
  • Average RN salary: $58,890.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #48
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +700 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#20 Arizona

  • Quality of life ranking: #39
  • Average RN salary: $71,790.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #9
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +1,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 83%

#19 Missouri

  • Quality of life ranking: #15
  • Average RN salary: $59,150.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #35
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +16,500 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#18 California

  • Quality of life ranking: #50
  • Average RN salary: $101,260.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #1
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -44,500 (shortage) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 91%

#17 Nevada

  • Quality of life ranking: #43
  • Average RN salary: $81,460.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #2
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +8,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 79%

#16 Idaho

  • Quality of life ranking: #20
  • Average RN salary: $61,280.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #28
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3,600 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 87%

#15 Mississippi

  • Quality of life ranking: #6
  • Average RN salary: $56,980.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #40
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +7,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 84%

#14 Montana

  • Quality of life ranking: #13
  • Average RN salary: $62,650.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #31
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#13 New Hampshire

  • Quality of life ranking: #4
  • Average RN salary: $67,190.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #36
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +1,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 78%

#12 Michigan

  • Quality of life ranking: #29
  • Average RN salary: $67,690.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #11
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +6,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 87%

#11 Rhode Island

  • Quality of life ranking: #23
  • Average RN salary: $76,410.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #15
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +2,500 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#10 Delaware

  • Quality of life ranking: #24
  • Average RN salary: $71,410.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #14
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +1,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#9 Wyoming

  • Quality of life ranking: #11
  • Average RN salary: $62,080.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #26
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +2,800 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#8 New Mexico

  • Quality of life ranking: #8
  • Average RN salary: $66,030.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #20
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +9,700 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 79%

#7 Massachusetts

  • Quality of life ranking: #25
  • Average RN salary: $88,650.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #5
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +2,000 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 87%

#6 Washington

  • Quality of life ranking: #21
  • Average RN salary: $78,130.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #6
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +6,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

#5 Colorado

  • Quality of life ranking: #10
  • Average RN salary: $69,990.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #16
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +63,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 85%

#4 Alaska

  • Quality of life ranking: #19
  • Average RN salary: $88,510.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #3
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: -5,400 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 78%

#3 Oregon

  • Quality of life ranking: #18
  • Average RN salary: $83,800.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #4
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +2,500 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: Data Inconclusive

#2 Wisconsin

  • Quality of life ranking: #3
  • Average RN salary: $66,400.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #19
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +6,200 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 88%

#1 Minnesota

  • Quality of life ranking: #2
  • Average RN salary: $72,310.00
  • RN pay compared to cost of living ranking: #10
  • Nursing surplus or shortage: +3,100 (surplus) 
  • Overall hospital rating by nurses: 86%

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