We don’t have enough space here to cover every combination and permutation of where you work, who you work for and how many years of experience you have, but the following, which focuses on staff psychiatric nurses in hospitals, will give you an idea of where the money is, where the jobs are and where the living is good for psychiatric nurses.
Where the highest salaries are
PayScale, an online market research company that specializes in salary analysis, reports that the highest-earning psychiatric nurses are located in the states of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) and Illinois (Chicago), but in terms of average salaries, here are the states that rank at the top, plus the average hourly pay range for psychiatric nurses in each one:
- New York – $22.03 to $54.25 per hour
- California – $24.36 to $45.62 per hour
- Ohio – $14.70 to $43.07 per hour
- Virginia – $20.13 to $40.11 per hour
- Pennsylvania – $19.73 to $39.56 per hour
- Florida – $22.82 to $39.50 per hour
Where the lowest salaries are
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest-paying states for all RNs—there is no separate data for psychiatric nurses—are the following:
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
Next: Where the jobs are →
Where the jobs are
In mid-December 2011, the job search section of the website of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association posted the most job openings for psychiatric nurses in the following states:
- New York
- New Hampshire
Where the salary, cost of living and lifestyle equate to good living
You don’t necessarily want or need to live in a state that has a super-low cost of living. Sure, the basic necessities of life need to be affordable in relation to your salary, because that enables you to also save some money and gain financial security. But you also have to live where there are opportunities to build a rich life for yourself. Ideally, you want to live where there are activities that interest you, clubs or associations that you want to join, and opportunities for you to enjoy the arts or nature or any hobbies you have.
These are the types of away-from-work pursuits that will help you build a circle of friends and develop a social life, which you need in order to be happy. No matter how dedicated you are to the profession of psychiatric nursing, don’t think that you can simply immerse yourself in your work; you need to have a life, too.
Next: Our top two →
Here are our two top picks for states you should explore if you’re a psychiatric nurse thinking of making a move:
- Virginia: Salaries for psychiatric nurses are high here and jobs are abundant. The state is beautiful, with plenty of history and culture. The arts are big here. Often rated as one of the best states to raise children, Virginia offers tons of activities for all ages to make life rich. You’ve got the coast, the Blue Ridge Mountains and fascinating cities like Richmond and Norfolk.
- Texas: It offers a balance of exciting large cities like Houston and Dallas, and delightful smaller ones like San Antonio and Austin. House prices are low, there are great colleges and universities for your children, and there’s the beautiful Gulf Coast to escape to for some rest and relaxation when you need it. Salaries are relatively high, although they didn’t quite make the highest salary list at the beginning of this article, and jobs for psychiatric nurses are abundant here, so you can choose the city or town that appeals to you the most.
Where are you a psychiatric nurse?
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!