Registered Nurses in the state of California earn an average salary of $120,560 per year (or $57.96 per hour) as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This makes it the overall highest-paying state for nurses in the United States.
At this level, California RNs earn about 44% more than the national average salary for nurses, at $80,010 (or $38.47 per hour).
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Why such a large difference in salaries? Among other factors, California’s sky high cost of living relative to the rest of the country is key. With a Cost of Living Index of 142.4 in 2020, California’s nurses face higher prices for things like food, housing, and transportation than in other states. Adjusted for the cost of living, RN salaries for nurses in California would be closer to $84,663 on average, making it much more comparable to the national average.
|State||Avg. RN Salary||Avg. RN Salary (adjusted for COL)||Local Estimates|
|California||$120,560||$120,560||Get Local Estimate|
|Nationwide||$80,010||-||Get Local Estimate|
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RN salary across California cities
California is home to all ten of the highest-paying metro areas in the United States. At the top is the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region, where the average annual RN salary is a whopping $146,870. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area is close behind at $149,200 per year. In addition to such high average nurse salaries, these two regions are home to a large number of nursing professionals – 17,750 and 40,600 respectively – so there are numerous job opportunities for nurses seeking a higher salary in these regions.
|CA Metro Area||Avg. RN Salary|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$146,870|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$149,200|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||$134,000|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$110,200|
Top California nurse jobs on Incredible Health
San Francisco, CA | $120k-$200k/year
RN salary vs similar healthcare professions in California
At $120,560 average annual salary, Registered Nurses in California tend to earn more than many other types of healthcare workers. Across all these professions, “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations” workers earn an average salary of $108,330, according to the BLS.
Here’s how a sample of these other types of healthcare professions compare to RN salaries in California:
|Profession||# Employed in CA||Avg. Salary|
|LPNs / LVNs||71,320||$64,090|
Job outlook for Registered Nurses in California
California’s Board of RN reports that there are over 300,000 Registered Nurses and more than 15,000 Nurse Practitioners with an active registered nursing license. Despite the large number, there is still a shortage, which is forecasted to increase over the next decade.
In California, Registered Nursing jobs are projected to increase by 16.7% from 2018 to 2028 – an increase of 53,400 new RNs in the state.