10 best and worst states for nurses

Not all states are equal when it comes to the job quality and opportunity of being a nurse the U.S. While the profession is in high demand, with expectations that the industry will double the rate of the average occupation by 2026, there are several challenges to being a nurse depending on location.

WalletHub compared the 50 states plus the District of Columbia across 21 metrics that assess nursing job opportunities in the nation. The list took into account metrics across two dimensions––work environment and opportunity and competition––looking at nursing salary, the prevalence of healthcare facilities and laws and regulations.

Best states for nurses:

  1. Oregon
  2. Minnesota
  3. Washington
  4. New Mexico
  5. Maine
  6. Montana
  7. Arizona
  8. Nevada
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Iowa

Nevada was ranked as the No. 1 state for the highest annual nursing salary, followed by Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona and Ohio. On the other end of the spectrum, Maryland, Vermont, Maine, New York and the District of Columbia were among the lowest annual nursing salaries.

While ranking as the worst state for nurses, the District of Columbia was tied with three other states for the most nursing job openings per capita. New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont also had the most job openings, followed by Massachusetts. The District of Columbia was tied with North Dakota for the state with highest competition by 2026. By comparison, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, California and Washington were ranked as the five states with the lowest competition by 2026.

Worst states for nurses:

  1. Virginia
  2. Vermont
  3. Ohio
  4. Mississippi
  5. Alabama
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Louisiana
  8. Hawaii
  9. New York
  10. District of Columbia

See the full ranking from WalletHub here.