Becoming a registered nurse takes a lot of money, time and work. In order to become a registered nurse, you must obtain either an associate or bachelor's degree, which generally takes between two and four years, and then pass a licensure exam.
However, this doesn't mean that you'll earn a lot of money once you become a nurse. The experts at CareerTrends, an employment and career research site by Graphiq, found the metropolitan areas in America with the lowest average salaries for nurses.
CareerTrends used 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find where registered nurses have the lowest income. They included salary data from each metro area for both registered nurses and nurse practitioners; in order to become a nurse practitioner, you would typically obtain either a master's degree or a doctorate.
Metro areas are ranked in descending order, meaning the metro area that pays its registered nurses the least is ranked No. 1. In cases where registered nurses have the same salary in multiple metro areas, communities are ranked by lower average salaries for nurse practitioners; if nurse practitioner data is not reported, metro areas are ordered by total number of registered nurses.
Every metro area included has an average salary for registered nurses significantly lower than $72,360 - the national average salary for registered nurses. Some metro areas - like one including Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia - are located in multiple states, but CareerTrends listed each metro area as part of the state it is primarily based in.
CareerTrends found that registered nurses tend to have lower salaries in less populated areas. The seven metro areas with the lowest average salaries for registered nurses each have under 200,000 people, while six of the seven metro areas with the highest average salaries have more than 400,000 people.
Registered nurses are also paid less in the South and Midwest than in the rest of the country. The top 29 metro areas in the ranking are all in either the South or the Midwest. One potential cause of this could be that the cost of living is lower in these parts of the country than the rest of the country.
CareerTrends also looked at the metro areas where registered nurses are paid the most.