Top pay for new nurses – the East Coast


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Where in the U.S. are new nurses receiving top pay? Let’s take a look at the East Coast (get our round up for the West Coast here and the South here). Keep in mind that the facts and figures are mostly related to new nurses and numbers might be higher for nurses with more experience or for those in specific specialties.

Did you miss our list of top 10 best paying nursing specialties? You can read that here!

Average pay (per hour) for top cities:

Portland, ME: $26
Burlington, VT: $27
Manchester, NH: $27
Boston, MA: $31
New York City, NY: $34
Albany, NY: $26.50
Hartford, CT: $31
Newark, NJ: $31
Philadelphia, PA: $31
Baltimore, MD: $30
Wilmington, DE: $30
Washington, D.C.: $29
Providence, RI: $29

Source: Nurse Zone

What nurses are saying about working in top East Coast cities:

Portland, ME:

“The RN job market is VERY tight here in Portland. Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital are the two major facilities but they often hire from within (i.e. CNAs who are now new RNs). Fewer nurses are retiring and the floors rarely “grow.” The hospitals are also only hiring BSN RNs…you didn’t mention what your degree would be. There are more opportunities the farther north you go but it can get very rural up there! That being said, nursing/LTC facilities are more likely to have openings. Depends on what you are looking for.” – 

“I’m a current nursing student but have been looking at the job market to see what is available in this area. Maine Med has quite a few RN jobs open for experienced nurses. I would also check Mercy Hospital and Southern Maine Medical Center (30 minutes south of Portland). We have very few nursing programs here in Maine and they take a very limited amount of students every year, so I don’t think the market is too swamped with new grads. Good luck finding a job! Maine is a great place to live and a great place to raise a family.” – 

Burlington, VT:

“Try Rutland Regional Medical Center. They have a good number of nursing jobs open at any given time. It’s a great place to work, too. I applied online for an LNA position and heard back within a week or so.” – 

“I worked at Central VT hospital. I enjoyed it very much. We didn’t have a union but our pay was decent and the benefits great. I enjoyed all the people I worked with, and all the people in the other depts. And when I was a patient three different times, I had a wonderful stay. I think there is a lot of the same “stuff” no matter where you go, but it is a nice place to work. Copley is a smaller hospital. I don’t know too much about it, but I know a lot of the nurses like working there.” – 

“Central VT would be tough, in that you mainly have Copley and CVMC to choose from. Copley is quite small, so I’m not sure if they have many openings. If you can stand a somewhat longer drive, I would look into jobs in the Burlington area (FAHC, a few rehabs here and there). Is there any particular reason that it must be Central VT, like a hubby’s job or kids? Take a look at Waterbury for a place to live. Sits right in between Burlington and Montpelier/Barre. But I don’t consider myself an expert…I will be a new grad soon so I don’t know much about the VT job market/pay/conditions. I used to live in the Burlington area, and I miss it every day! Best of luck to you.” – 

Manchester, NH:

“There is a lot of agency work in the area, throw a resume on Monster and they won’t leave you alone.” – 

“The market is VERY tight right now for any acute care RN jobs here in NH. I would definitely get your NH license as that could be a major HR road block. Also, make yourself stand out from other candidates. Send a few emails to the nurse managers of units you’re really interested in. Tell them about your experience, why you’re passionate about working on their unit, yada yada yada. This strategy worked beautifully for me after many months of no call backs. My experience is that HR “ditches” many applications for various reasons so it’s important to go to the source. After all, what do you have to lose? Good luck!” – 

Boston, MA:

“When I left my hospital job last year, I was making $31 and change an hour with 4 1/2 years experience. That was at a non-union hospital in Boston proper. I know union hospitals paid significantly more than that and I had a friend at another non-union hospital in Boston who was making either $32 or $33/hr base with the same amount of experience as me.” – 

“Beth Israel is not a union hospital. They were sued a few years ago for illegal pay practices and I think they’ve gotten a little better since then. Your base should be more than $26/hr–new grads make more than that up here. The way hospitals do their differentials varies by the hospital. I believe Beth Israel’s differentials are similar to the other adult hospitals in the area – Brigham and Women’s and Mass General – and that it’s a flat rate as opposed to a percentage. Boston doesn’t have a city tax but Massachusetts has a fairly high state tax. Parking is expensive. If you plan to live in the city, take the T to work. Nearly all of the hospitals will subsidize T passes and allow you to pay the remainder with pre-tax dollars. I am making significantly more working in home health than I did in the hospital but this isn’t necessarily true across the board. In general hospitals will pay more, it’s just my hospital in particular didn’t pay well when compared to other Boston hospitals.” – 

New York City, NY:

“DON’T COME TO NEW YORK CITY. The fact that a city this large has only a few okay-ish hospitals should tell you that this is not a particularly thriving healthcare system. NYP hospital system cut their new graduate training program for external candidates last spring. I did a two month internship at Weill Cornell Medical Center (part of the NYP system) towards the end of my nursing school year, and they wouldn’t consider my application. Nobody else in my nursing school got hired by them either. I graduated from a NYC nursing school back in May. Even before graduation I was networking with nurses, nurse managers, and instructors, sending out resumes, etc. I have had NO job offers. Just one job interview. (To put this in perspective, I had clinical instructors telling me I was their best student and that they were sure I’d get hired right away) I’m planning on moving to Houston, where the hospital system is even larger and better-funded. My advice: don’t come here. Consider places that have a large medical center, like Cleveland. The job search in this city feels more like a really bad game of musical chairs. Maybe you’ll be one of the few who gets something, but no reasonable person would want to take such a big gamble.” – 

“In a very broad and general sense the top and pretty much all “decent” healthcare systems/hospitals want RNs who are on point and correct. Where possible they want new grads who came out near or top of their class who are able to think quickly, multi-task, proactive, skilled and competent. The last two bits come more as one gains experience but hospitals want to see that there is something “there” for them to work with. Part of this culture has to do with the demanding nature of healthcare (patients, physicans, etc…) that is simply part of NYC life, much of which falls onto nurse’s shoulders. Here in NYC persons will drag you into court if you look at them the wrong way and a simple nursing error that results in an adverse outcome can cost a hospital millions in malpractice claims, so they look to minimise exposure by having “the best” in terms of nursing staff.” – 

Albany, NY:

“I started a year ago at AMC as a new grad. I feel they are very supportive of new grads; it’s a teaching hospital so I believe that helps immensely. You have a lot of ancillary support (i.e. respiratory, phlebotomy, clinical support for IV starts/NGT or foley problems, stat RNs you can page with concerns or questions) which helps especially when you are brand new. Later on you can become more autonomous. Orientation on the floor is usually 3 months and they have a new grad residency program, which serves mainly for peer support through the 1st year of nursing. Some of the floors also have great nurse to patient ratios.” – 

“Albany, NY area $20-23/hour, dayshift starting pay for new grads. Shift differentials can get you up closer to $30 if you want to work evenings or nights. The job market seems decent for new grads, they just hired 6 of them for my floor, but all of them have BSN. With a year or two of experience you would have no difficulty finding a position. Oh, cost of living is pretty low compared to the rest of the East Coast. Probably comparable to Pittsburgh.” – 

Hartford, CT:

“Pay is low because there is not a nursing shortage. The shortage that exists is not mainly hospital nursing. There are shortages of RNs in some areas like critical care areas that are demanding and require extra certs. There is a shortage of home care nurses, especially pediatrics, pay in that area is usually $25/hr or better according to need. There is a shortage of LTC nurses in some locales. Doctor offices rarely use RNs mostly medical assistants, when they do use nurses, the pay and benefits are bad. Community Health Centers have shortage of RNs and LPNs, the pay is not that great but benefits are very good. RNs working through Home Care agencies doing skilled visits usually get about $35 to $45 per visit, sometimes you can do 2 or 3 visits in an hour. If you want women’s health, you might try Planned Parenthood and similar clinics. Most do not perform abortions on site, if you have an issue with that.” – 

“It was hard to find work as a new grad in Connecticut, it took me 3 months to finally find a job. I filled out an application for every nursing home in my area. It helped to follow up on every application I filled out. Be persistent or you are just a name on a piece of paper. I laugh now but, I can remember feeling like a phone stalker! Once you have gained a year of experience things will be easier.” – 

Newark, NJ:

“Many hospitals are hiring in NJ. It’s better that you have experience. If you have certifications and your NJ license you have a pretty fair shot. Right SBHCS is doing a lot of hiring and UMDNJ. Check their website. Where will you be specifically? We can give you a better idea of the hospitals in that area. Good luck” – 

“Newark Beth Israel is hiring new grads into some positions. Apply even if it says experience is required.” – 

Philadelphia, PA:

“I guess I can come out and say that as far as I’ve heard (from fellow new grads) all Penn Entities (HUP, Presbyterian & Pennsylvania Hospital) start new grads at 27.32. I’m fairly certain I heard this from recruiters at fairs & in published material so I think it’s ok to share. I haven’t heard anyone really having success “bargaining salaries”–at least not at facilities with established Clinical Ladder Programs that you have to apply/achieve raises based on your experience and contributions (which I believe most Magnet Recognized Hospitals within the city have–at least places such as UPHS, Chop, Jefferson etc.) There would be a notable differential between Union and non-union hospitals. That’s something to consider when accepting a job (which is, from what I understand) why Temple would be considerably more than UPHS.” – 

“It seems like the standard range for new grads in Philly is 27-28. I heard that Montgomery Hospital in the county starts around $25 for new grads. For new grads, there really isn’t negotiation room, and given the market, I really don’t see hospitals hurting from having this information public. There are tons of nursing schools in the immediate area and even more in the not so immediate area.” – 

Baltimore, MD:

“If you’re interested in ER, Sinai’s ER pays around $32 an hour with a couple of years of experience, plus differentials. Can’t tell you about anywhere else, as I’ve never worked anywhere else.” – 

“UMMC provides, or at least subsidizes, housing for its medical staff, so I’m sure the hospital maintains a list of available housing nearby. My only advice is to find an apartment or town house within walking distance to the campus. While security’s always around and the campus is well-lit, the campus spans well over several blocks, and isn’t exactly in the safest part of the city. But you’ll love the area and city life! Best wishes on your move, and welcome to Balmore, hon!!!” – 

Wilmington, DE:

“Graduates are getting hired, but they are the ones that are networking and putting in the mileage to meet-‘n-greet, not faxing their resumes. They are pounding the pavement, meeting the managers, and attending seminars and meetings with other nurses. People who only fax and call are not the ones that get hired. You have to show your face to the managers and make a good impression. Yes, it’s an old-fashioned way of doing business, but it works.” – 

“I know a lot of the temp agencies are hiring (like Bayada). It’s a good way to gain experience and get your foot in the door. Also, Bayhealth is hiring for pt/per diem but you have to be persistent and have great references.” – 

Washington, D.C.:

“I am a new-grad working at Washington Hospital Center, and the starting salary for a new graduate was a little over $27/hr. WHC is a hospital with nurses in the NNU (union) and a set pay scale (I don’t know what the salary would be for your level of experience off hand).” – 

“The pay in DC is terrible when you consider what the cost of living is. I’m not a new grad (they credit me with 4 years RN for my 8 as an LPN and 2 as an RN) and my base pay is $30 and change… Which is $2/hr more than Augusta, GA. I pay SIGNIFICANTLY more for housing here as you might imagine. I’ll say that I haven’t found the people to be bad, but I was born in California so maybe I’m used to the pace. Travelers do get paid more, but I would definitely contact some that know the system because those that I work with have some pretty variable stories regarding their companies and how they are reimbursed re: housing, etc.” – 

Providence, RI:

“Try Providence Park Hospital in Novi. They have many different per diem options…some paying as high as $50/hr. But you have to travel for those. I believe the float RNs in the hospital made $38-42/hour depending on experience. The St. John Providence health system is one of the highest paying in the state. Avoid the DMC if you are looking to make money.” – 

“I don’t think that it’s that bad. I’m not originally from Michigan, but I moved here 5 years ago. Certainly, the economy has gotten worse in the last few years, but I’ve also found that to be the case in most states. For the most part, you should not have a difficult time finding employment in SE MI as an experienced nurse. There are several large hospital systems relatively close to Northville- Providence Park Novi (part of St. John’s), Henry Ford Health System (new hospital in West Bloomfield and several others in SE MI), University of Michigan, St. Joe’s in Ann Arbor, St. Mary’s in Livonia, DMC Huron Valley in West Bloomfield. Northville is a very nice town and I would not feel unsafe there. I still think that SE MI has a lot to offer in the form of shopping and entertainment. The winters are horrible though, there is no getting around that.” – 

Live and work on the East Coast? Share with the Scrubs community what you think about your area in the comments below.

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