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The 5 Best and 5 Worst States for Nurses

Topics: Data & Research

If you’re about to graduate from college and get your nursing license, you might be looking forward to starting your career with mixed feelings. On the one hand, nursing careers pay well and offer low rates of unemployment; on the other, getting started can be a struggle. It can be hard to get the minimum two or three years of experience that many employers look for in a new hire.

With this in mind, WalletHub recently evaluated all 50 states and the District of Columbia to identify the best and worst states for nurses – especially new nurses – in the U.S.


(Photo Credit: tiffany98101/Flickr)

Do You Know What You're Worth?

WalletHub’s methodology analyzed 14 metrics in two major areas, Opportunity & Competition and Work Environment, to see which states offered the best support for nursing careers. Metrics included starting salary (adjusted for cost of living), nursing-job openings, educational opportunities, mandatory overtime restrictions, and average number of work hours. The full ranking is here; these are the five best and worst states for nurses in the U.S.:


Best States for Nurses:

1. Washington:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 7

Work Environment Rank: 7

2. Illinois:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 20

Work Environment Rank: 5

3. Texas

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 3

Work Environment Rank: 19

4. Oregon:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 17

Work Environment Rank: 8

5. Iowa:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 4

Work Environment Rank: 17


Worst States for Nurses:

1. District of Columbia:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 51

Work Environment Rank: 33

2. Louisiana:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 49

Work Environment Rank: 51

3. Hawaii:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 50

Work Environment Rank: 20

4. Alabama:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 29

Work Environment Rank: 49

5. South Carolina:

Opportunity & Competition Rank: 32

Work Environment Rank: 43


For more information, see WalletHub’s list.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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