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Starting RN Salary in the 10 Largest US Cities

Career News August 21, 2013

The RN starting salary can play a significant role when you are trying to decide where to work. You have gone through a lot of school, and you deserve to be compensated well for it. To give you a general idea of how much you can make when you are just starting out, here are the average RN starting salaries for the 10 largest cities in the country, according to

New York, New York – New York is considered the largest city in the country by Info Please. This should come as no surprise. Since New York City also has one of the highest cost of living rates in the country, RN starting salary ranks among the highest at $56,000 annually. However, the average salary that you can make as an RN in New York City is $102,000, so there is a lot of room for improvement.

Los Angeles, California – Los Angeles is the second largest city, and it also has a high cost of living. Accordingly, it offers a RN starting salary of $46,000 annually, with an average overall salary of $84,000. While the cost of living is high, LA’s ideal weather and ample attractions make is a great option.

Chicago, Illinois – The windy city comes in as the third largest city. Believe it or not, it actually has a higher RN starting salary than LA, coming in at $47,000 annually. This is surprising because the cost of living in Chicago is quite a bit lower than it is in LA. The average RN salary is $85,000 annually. This is a great choice if you are looking to stretch your salary as far as possible.

Houston, Texas – This coastal city is the fourth largest city and boasts a RN starting salary of $43,000 annually. If you enjoy warm, humid weather, this is a great city to live in. The average RN salary is $78,000 annually.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – If you also enjoy history, this fifth largest city may be perfect for you. The starting salary for RNs is $41,000, and the average salary is $75,000.

Phoenix, Arizona – If you love heat, Phoenix is a great place to live. As the sixth largest city, it boasts ample places for hiking and enjoying the outdoors year-round. The starting RN salary is on the lower end at $37,000. However, the cost of living is relatively low in Phoenix. Accordingly, the average salary is only $68,000.

San Antonio, Texas – Even though this is the seventh largest city, it ranks as the lowest RN starting salary on the list, coming in at only $36,000. Once again, the cost of living is something to consider, as your salary will stretch much further here than in some of the bigger cities. The average salary is $65,000.

San Diego, California – This southern California city is the eighth largest in the country and offers a starting salary of $44,000. This city also offers an ideal climate and plenty of day-off activities for you to enjoy. The average salary for RNs goes up to $81,000.

Dallas, Texas – This ninth-largest city has one of the lowest costs of living in the country, so its RN starting salary of $43,000 is extremely generous. The average salary rises to $78,000.

San Jose, California – This mid-California city may be the tenth largest city in the country, but it ranks the highest for RN starting salaries at $59,000. This is probably attributed to its high cost of living and ideal climate. The average salary is also the highest at $107,000.

Now that you know how much you will be able to earn in each of these cities, it is also important to realize that there are many factors that contribute to your salary besides just the location and cost of living. Additionally, it will matter what type of degree and how much education you have. The nursing specialty you choose will also have an impact. For example, a Nurse Practitioner makes much more than a hospice nurse. It is important to weigh all of these factors before deciding where to live, so you can make the most of your salary and earn what you are worth.

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