October 7, 2017
Downtown Boston at sunset with sun shining over the water

Thinking about working in Massachusetts? Here's everything you need to know about being a nurse in the Bay State.

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The U.S. Health Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) conducted a workforce analysis of projected nursing needs through 2030. The study looked at each individual state and identified shortages and surpluses. While Massachusetts is currently experiencing a nursing shortage, it is projected to have a nursing surplus of 2,000 nurses by 2030.

Despite the surplus reported by the HRSA analysis, the reports provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there is a high demand for specialized nurses including nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists in Massachusetts.

Overall, the need for nurses will be affected by a variety of reasons, including changes in health care coverage and reimbursement, health insurance changes at a government level, and hospital accreditation changes.

Part One Massachusetts Board of Registered Nursing

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing regulates and issues all nursing licenses in the state. Its mission is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens in the Commonwealth through the fair and consistent application of the statutes and regulations governing nursing practice and nursing education.

Contacting The Board

Office Address

Board of Registration in Nursing

239 Causeway Street, Suite 500, 5th Floor

Boston, Massachusetts 02114

Phone: 1-800-414-0168 or 617-973-0900

Fax: 617-973-0984

Email Directory

Department Email
Renewal Notice
Good Moral Character (GMC)
General Nursing

Part Two Massachusetts Nursing Licenses

Massachusetts is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, so every nurse must apply for a separate license to practice there.

Massachusetts, along with two other states (PA and VA) manage all licensure applications through a private company called Professional Credential Services


All applications must be made through this online system. Here are the direct links to the online nursing applications and forms.





Payment must be made by credit card. All fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Applicants:


RN or LPN First-time by Exam or Expired Application Candidates (initial application submitted greater than one (1) year ago):


$200 NCLEX fee payable to NCSBN

RN or LPN Re-Exam Applicants (within 1 year of receipt of application):


$200.00 NCLEX fee payable to NCSB

RN or LPN by Reciprocity Applicants:


Foreign Education Credential Evaluation Applicants: 



Massachusetts requires license renewal as follows:

Registered Nurses: On your birthday every even-numbered year

Licensed Practical Nurses: On your birthday every odd-numbered year

There are 3 options for MA nursing license renewal:

Renew Online at the state board’s website:

Request a paper renewal application by emailing

In person at the Board office in Boston. However, you will not receive a receipt for renewal


To check the status of an existing Massachusetts nursing license, go to the state board’s license verification page.

Part Four Nursing Salaries 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average annual salary for nurses in Michigan are as follows:

Massachusetts Nursing Salaries By Practice Level

Practice Level Hourly Avg Annual Avg
LPNs and LVNs $29.01 $60,340
Registered Nurses $44.79 $93,160
Nurse Anesthetists $97.06 $201,890
Nurse Midwives $51.52 $107,150
Nurse Practitioners $58.77 $122,240

Some metro areas have higher pay rates than others. Here are the highest:

Highest Paying Cities For RNs In Mass

Metro Area Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Barnstable Town $41.81 $86,970
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua $46.40 $96,510
Leominster-Gardner $42.50 $88,390
New Bedford $38.62 $80,340
Pittsfield N/A N/A
Providence-Warwick $39.51 $82,170
Springfield $39.74 $82,650
Worcester $39.89 $82,960

Related: Highest Paying US Cities For RNs

While these numbers are the reported averages, nurses have the ability to earn even more depending on responsibilities, certifications, and shift differentials.

Cost-of-living should also be taken into consideration. See a full ranking of all 50 states salaries adjusted for the cost-of-living.

How To Increase Your Nursing Salary

Certifications such as CCRN, CPN, and RNC will all earn individuals additional pay depending on the hospital system. This can vary depending on a variety of factors but nurses can either receive a one-time bonus or an increase in their hourly wage. It is important to check with employers regarding this. 

Shift differentials range from 5%-20% depending on the shift work. Weekend night shifts pay more than weekday day shifts. Before accepting any position it is important to speak to Human Resources to understand the shift differential at each hospital. Furthermore, some hospitals will only provide a shift differential if a nurse is paid on an hourly basis. Rarely are salaried employees eligible for this benefit.

Participating in hospital- and unit-based committees may also contribute to higher earnings. Hospitals, particularly Magnet-designated, commonly have numerous opportunities in which to participate.

While participation alone does not increase pay, it can help a nurse climb the clinical ladder. With each step in the clinical ladder, there is also a pay increase.

Precepting new nurses can also be a way to earn bonuses. Most hospitals offer bonuses for precepting new nurses. This is paid in two lump sums. The first payment is after the new nurse is off of orientation while the final payment is after the new staff member has been in the hospital system for a full year. This is a great incentive for senior nurses to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of nurses.

Typical Benefits For Nurses

Nurses enjoy strong benefits throughout Michigan. Actual benefits including healthcare will vary depending on the healthcare institution. Most institutions will only offer benefits to part-time and full-time employees. Rarely are they offered to per diem or contracted employees.

Standard benefits include:

  • Disability insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Retirement options
  • Discounts on a variety of products
  • Dental coverage
  • Maternity leave
  • Health insurance
  • Childcare support
  • Various memberships related to the organization
  • Leave benefits 

Part Five Top Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

Considering furthering your nursing education in Massachusetts? Our panel of registered nurses reviewed nursing programs across the state based on their reputation, NCLEX pass rate, tuition, and accreditation status. See the top 10 listed below, and get additional details in our Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts guide.  

  1. Simmons College
  2. Boston College
  3. University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  4. University of Massachusetts - Lowell
  5. University of Massachusetts - Boston
  6. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
  7. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
  8. College of Our Lady of the Elms
  9. Regis College
  10. Salem State University

Part Six Best Hospitals In Massachusetts

With more than 1.7 million nurses employed at inpatient hospitals, understanding the key differences between these facilities is important. You’ll want to know which hospitals nurses like best and other important features like Magnet status and location.

Magnet Hospitals

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), in its aim to promote nursing excellence, evaluates healthcare organizations through its credentialing programs. The Magnet designation is the highest credential awarded to healthcare institutions based on their work environment, nursing excellence, innovations in nursing practice, and quality patient outcomes.

For RNs seeking work with best-in-class medical institutions, choosing one with Magnet status is a smart move.

Hospital City
Baystate Medical Center Springfield
Boston Children’s Hospital Boston
Dana Farber Cancer Institute Boston
Melrose/Wakefield Hospital Campus Melrose
Lowell General Hospital Lowell
Massachusetts General Hospital Boston
South Shore Hospital South Weymouth
Winchester Hospital Winchester

Hospitals Recommended By Nurses

Badge for top nursing hospitals in analyzed 521 surveys of nurses from 68 hospitals in Massachusetts to rank the best hospitals to work for in the state of Massachusetts.

1. Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital


4.8 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Great experience. Coworkers are always ready to help.”

“This is a fantastic hospital and was a great location to learn from well educated and highly experienced coworkers.”

“Super friendly coworkers who assist you.”

Read Reviews

2. Massachusetts General Hospital


4.7 Average Rating
95% Recommended

Magnet Hospital

“A great organization with every opportunity to learn and gain skills to be a proactive clinician and advocate.”

“Coworkers are great and everyone works together.”

“It is a great hospital with many great opportunities for advancement.”

Read Reviews

3. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Boston, MA

4.5 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Working at Beth Israel becomes like a second home for you, everyone becomes family. You are never alone, everyone is a team and value you for your work.”

“I feel that this hospital has a great environment to help teach new nurses and welcome the help as they need it! I could have asked for a better start to my career.”

“There are a lot of learning opportunities and the staff is great.”

Read Reviews

4. Brigham and Women’s Hospital


4.6 Average Rating
90% Recommended

“It’s a nurse driven hospital because of the strong union.”

“All staff is considered and appreciated and treated as equals to upper level providers.”

“Great learning experience and very knowledgeable staff.”

Read Reviews

5. Cape Cod Hospital


4.4 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Coworkers, doctors, schedule, and pay were great at this hospital.”

“Great people. Awesome staff.”

Read Reviews

6. Boston Medical Center


4.2 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“The nursing staff, medical staff, and ancillary staff are the most dedicated to [patient] care that I have ever experienced in my long career.”

“Great people to work with and collaborative practice with physicians.”

Read Reviews

7. Tufts Medical Center


4.1 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“It has many good aspects and affords a nurse many opportunities for practice and upward mobility.”

“Tufts is a great place to work. Nurses are team players and orientation is thorough.”

Read Reviews

8. Lowell General Hospital (tie)

Lowell, MA

4.0 Average Rating
100% Recommended


Magnet Hospital

“Incredible support for nurses.”

“It’s a great place to learn and be part of a team.”

Read Reviews

8. North Shore Medical Center (tie)

Salem, MA

4.0 Average Rating
100% Recommended

“Everyone is super friendly and awesome and very welcoming.”

“Coworkers were like a second family.”

“Patient centered care with compassion.”

Read Reviews

10. Charlton Memorial Hospital

Fall River, MA

3.9 Average Rating
93% Recommended

“The unit I work on has a good team spirit and good morale. The management is positive and supportive.”

“Staff is well educated and can be used as a resource.”

“Nursing staff is very supportive.”

Read Reviews

Part Seven Continuing Education Requirements 

Check out the Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts!

Massachusetts requires nurses to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education (CE) every 2 years.

According to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services:

Continuing Education (CE) in Nursing consists of planned, organized learning experiences designed to augment the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the enhancement of nursing practice, with the goal of improving health care to the public.

The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program/offering qualifies as acceptable CE is that it be a planned program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of the licensed nurse.

The nursing regulations pertaining to CE can be found at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education.

For more information on continuing education, see our Continuing Education Guide.

The Board provides a checklist to determine whether a CE program satisfies Board requirements. 

Continuing Education Audit

You do not need to send evidence of CE program completion or certificates to the Board unless you are requested to do so by the Board. If you receive a request, you will be directed where to mail them. If you are selected for audit or named in a complaint, you may be required to send two cycles worth of CE certificates to the Board.

When you renew your license, you attest under penalties of perjury to compliance with state tax and child support laws, mandatory reporting laws, and regulations pertaining to your practice, including CE requirements.

It is the responsibility of each licensed nurse to maintain an authenticated record of CE programs completed for two consecutive registration periods (four years).  

Part Eight Labor Unions

Massachusetts is a right to work state which means that you have a choice of whether or not to join a labor union. Union members often enjoy higher pay, better working conditions, and more job security.

However, they must also pay union dues, participate in strikes, and may have limited access to advancement opportunities (due to seniority).

Related: Pros and Cons of Nurses Unions 

The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest nursing union in Massachusetts. The MNA works as a collective voice to ensure that nurses throughout the state are receiving fair wages and benefits, have proper collective bargaining tools, and representation in times of need. The union represents nurses at the following organizations:

  • American Red Cross
  • Anna Jaques Hospital
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center
  • Baystate VNA & Hospice Greenfield
  • Bedford Public Health
  • Berkshire Medical Center
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Boston VNA
  • Brigham & Women’s Hospital
  • Brockton Hospital
  • Brockton VNA
  • Burbank Hospital
  • Cambridge Hospital
  • Cape Cod Hospital
  • Cape Cod VNA
  • Clinton Hospital
  • Cooley-Dickinson Hospital
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  • Dialysis Clinic, Inc.
  • Diversified Home Service, Inc.
  • Falmouth Hospital
  • Faulkner Hospital
  • Gloucester School Nurses
  • Grafton School Nurses
  • Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates
  • Heywood Hospital
  • Holy Family
  • Jordan Hospital
  • Kindred Health Care (Braintree)
  • Lawrence General Hospital
  • Lawrence Public Health Dept.
  • Leicester School Nurses
  • Leominster Hospital
  • Marlborough Hospital
  • Martha’s Vineyard Hospital
  • Medford School Department
  • Mercy Medical Center
  • Merrimack Valley Hospital
  • Methuen Schools
  • MetroWest Medical Center
  • Morton Medical Center
  • Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Nashoba Boards of Health
  • Newton Public Health
  • Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • Noble Hospital
  • North Adams Hospital
  • North Middlesex Regional SD
  • Northeast Hospital Corporation
  • North Shore Salem Hospital
  • Providence Hospital
  • Quincy Medical Center
  • Radius Hospital-Boston
  • Radius Hospital-Quincy
  • Smith College
  • Steward Carney Hospital
  • Steward Good Samaritan MC
  • Steward Norwood Hospital
  • Steward St. Elizabeth’s MC
  • Somerville Hospital
  • Southcoast Hospitals Group
  • St. Vincent’s Hospital
  • Taunton School Committee
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • UMass Memorial Medical Center
  • UMass Memorial, Hahnemann
  • UMass Medical School
  • Unit 7
  • Vibra
  • VNA and Hospice of Cooley Dickinson
  • Wachusett Regional Schools
  • West Springfield Schools
  • Whidden Memorial Hospital
  • Wilmington Schools
  • Worcester Public Health
  • Worcester Schools

Part Nine Nursing Jobs In Massachusetts

As a skilled nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the featured listings below or search thousands of job listings on our job board and get the pay and career path you deserve.


Gardner, MA | MedPro Staffing

Travel contract. 2 years recent experience in Acute Case Manager Setting required. Private housing or housing allowance. Group Health insurance benefits. Company-paid life and disability insurance. Matching 401(k).

Apply Now   


Cambridge, MA | RNetwork

Direct patient care that requires the utilization of sophisticated medical equipment to monitor vital signs. Customized benefits package. Paid private housing, reimbursement for travel. 

Apply Now  

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