The top 10 states for nurses

So, you just graduated from nursing school. Where's the best place to pursue a career?

The best state to work as a nurse is Maine, followed by Montana and Washington, according to a new report from financial website WalletHub. The worst is the District of Columbia, with Hawaii and Vermont rounding out the bottom three.

WalletHub ranked the states and the District of Columbia by 21 metrics across two categories: opportunity and competition (including factors like monthly average starting salary and health care facilities per capita) and work environment (including factors like ratio of nurses to hospital beds and quality of the public hospital system as measured by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data). 

RELATED: Check out the states where Americans are paying the highest in income taxes:

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States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes
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States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes

California

State income tax: 1% to 13.3% 

Maine

State income tax: 5.8% to 10.15%

Oregon

State income tax: 5% to 9.9%

Minnesota

State income tax: 5.35% to 9.85%

Iowa

State income tax: 0.36% to 8.98%

New Jersey

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.97%

Vermont

State income tax: 3.55% to 8.95%

Washington, DC

State income tax: 4% to 8.95%

New York

State income tax: 4% to 8.82%

Hawaii

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.25%

Wisconsin

State income tax: 4% to 7.65%

Idaho

State income tax: 1.6% to 7.4%

South Carolina

State income tax: 0% to 7%

Connecticut

State income tax: 3% to 6.99%

Arkansas

State income tax: 0.9% to 6.9%

Montana

State income tax: 1% to 6.9%

Nebraska

State income tax: 2.46% to 6.84%

Delaware

State income tax: 2.2% to 6.6%

West Virginia

State income tax: 3% to 6.5%

Georgia

State income tax: 1% to 6%

Kentucky

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Louisiana

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Missouri

State income tax: 1.5% to 6%

Rhode Island

State income tax: 3.75% to 5.99%

Maryland

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

North Carolina

State income tax: 5.75%

Virginia

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

Oklahoma

State income tax: 0.5% to 5.25%

Massachusetts

State income tax: 5.1%

Alabama

State income tax: 2% to 5%

Mississippi

State income tax: 3% to 5%

Utah

State income tax: 5%

Ohio

State income tax: 0.495% to 4.997%

New Mexico

State income tax: 1.7% to 4.9%

Colorado

State income tax: 4.63%

Kansas

State income tax: 2.7% to 4.6%

Arizona

State income tax: 2.59% to 4.54%

Michigan

State income tax: 4.25%

Illinois

State income tax: 3.75%

Indiana

State income tax: 3.3%

Pennsylvania

State income tax: 3.07%

North Dakota

State income tax: 1.1% to 2.9%

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Nursing can be a rewarding career, though nurses also must contend with challenges like mandatory overtime and potentially troublesome patient behavior. Through 2026, the field is anticipated to grow more than double the average rate for other occupations, per Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

That said, a chief issue in the field currently is that nursing schools are rejecting thousands of applicants partially based on their struggle finding teachers to meet demands for classes. Nurses are retiring in significant numbers, yet schools can't produce enough graduates to replace them, CNN Money reports. Nursing programs are working to try and create space for more students.

The most nursing job openings per capita could be found in Vermont, the District of Columbia and Maine (all tied for No. 1), followed by North Dakota and Alaska. The fewest were in Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Alabama and Arizona.

Nurses were paid the most annually – adjusted for cost of living – in Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Michigan and Texas. The lowest annual nursing salaries were in Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Vermont and New York.

The top 10 best states for nursing can be found below, and a complete list is available here.

Overall RankStateOpportunity & Competition RankWork Environment Rank
1Maine162
2Montana

5

10
3Washington612
4Wyoming132
5New Mexico231
6Minnesota291
7Arizona716
8New Hampshire373
9Oregon364
10Colorado

20

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