Top pay for new nurses – the Midwest


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Where in the U.S. are new nurses receiving top pay? Let’s wrap up our tour of the U.S. by taking a look at the Midwest (get our round up for the West Coast here, the East 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:

Billings, MT: $26
Cheyenne, WY: $24.50
Denver, CO: $27
Albuquerque, NM: $28
Fargo, ND: $24
Sioux Falls, SD: $23
Omaha, NE: $23
Wichita, KS: $22
Minneapolis, MN: $30
Des Moines, IA: $24
Kansas City, MO: $25
Milwaukee, WI: $27
Chicago, IL: $29
Detroit, MI: $28
Indianapolis, IN: $25
Cleveland, OH: $27

Source: Nurse Zone

What nurses are saying about working in top Midwest cities:

Billings, MT:

“Yes there are new grad jobs but I don’t recommend moving out here. Benefis essentially owns the medical economy here and they are a crappy corporation to work for. They don’t care about their employees, patients are never satisfied after their hospital stay, there are a ton of really old (and some not so old) and really crappy nurses that somehow never get fired even when they make decisions that end up in a patient’s death. There are a few nursing homes that are not owned by benefis and some PT/OT companies but not so many options for nurses. It sucks. And the town is boring as hell.” – 

“Benefis is a amazing place to work. I’m not a nurse but a Phleb. in the lab so I go to all the diffrent departments and know most of the regular employees there pretty well. I love it and have no intentions as of yet to work any where else, even when I get my RN. Great Falls is a wonderful place to live and a great place to raise a family.  However, I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but it is very hard to get into the L&D unit. They have a very low turn over rate (my sister is an OB RN there) and they tend to heir in-house before bringing someone new in. Get into the hospital, spend some time there and keep an eye peeled for an opening on L&D is the best advice I can give you. Good luck!” – 

Cheyenne, WY:

“I am in Wyo and am noticing quite a few nurses moving in from other states. One I spoke with just the other day said she applied at hospitals all over the state and the only one that called her was a small facility in central Wyo. The flew her out to interview and she took the job but then only stayed for 5 months.” – 

“There are just so many nursing schools in southern Wyo/northern CO that they are probably inundated with applicants right now. I used to work for PVH and I know that the unit managers can be very picky due to the #s of applicants they get for each position – from both experienced RNs and new graduates.” – 

Denver, CO:

“I am starting at $24/hr but will have evening differential of $2/hr and night differential of $4/hr, plus an additional $1 for weekends. My shift is 12 hours, so 4 of those will be at evening differential and the other 8 at night differential. I don’t know if my starting salary is typical of the area, or even the hospital. Two of my classmates who were previous nurse externs at the same hospital are starting at $22.50/hr.” – 

“It is not impossible, but it is BAD even if you have experience. It is extremely bad if you are a new grad, even worse if you don’t have local connections, even worse if you don’t have a BSN.” – 

“Like SummitAP said – it is not impossible to get a RN job in Denver. But you might want to consider how many nursing programs (both ADN and BSN) there are in northern CO. There will be many entry level RNs applying for the same jobs as you. And these students did clinicals in the local hospitals so they have already made contacts and connections. Did you read the post about centura only hiring BSNs *with* experience? I am not being negative, only realistic. I would love to move back to Colorado. And so would a lot of other nurses -adding to the competition.” – 

“Centura hires tons of new grads on all floors, including ICUs, EDs, and Mom/Baby. Some of these new grads have no prior experience in the field other than clinicals during nursing school.” – 

“Hi. I am a RN, BSN, graduated almost 8 years ago. I was told recently, by more than one recruiter, that New Mexico is one of the best places for nurses to find a job. I live in Colorado, north of Denver, and am constantly applying, all over! For years! No job for me yet! I have also been told by these same nurse recruiters that CO, especially northern CO, is one of the most difficult spots in the country to land a nursing job. Wish you all the best!” – 

Albuquerque, NM:

“Hey! My friend graduated last May and found a job in October, she makes 24/hr here. If you Google “UNM Hospital jobs” they list salary with job description. Typically 23/hr.” – 

“Yes, the new grad market is tough. They will probably not hire as a tech as your licensure is above that and you can be held liable to the level of responsibility of the RN. Check Craigslist, the newspapers, etc…there are sometimes clinic stuff or free standing places like urgent care or ambulatory surgery which might hire you. I know when I did a travel contract there in 2010 at the heart hospital, they were having a hard time keeping staff and hiring all the time. But I do not know what it is like now.” – 

Fargo, ND:

“Attracting and keeping experienced nurses in a hospital setting is a challenge — so challenging that Sanford Health in Fargo is offering sign-up bonuses of $15,000 for registered nurses with at least two years of experience who commit to stay at least three years.” – 

“Sanford will hire new grads too, though I don’t think they’ll get a bonus. Needless to say, North Dakota hospitals are the only hospitals I have received call backs within a few days of filing my application. That includes Sanford. Just came back from visiting North Dakota too for interviews. It will take a while to get used to cows, corn, cows, and more corn. I dread the winters, although from what I heard from locals, last year’s winter was mild. Fargo was the nicest city in North Dakota, and there’s more housing there than in other cities. I hope for offers from the hospitals I interviewed with.” – 

Sioux Falls, SD:

“I was a new grad a year ago. I was hired at 33 dollars an hour, plus 3 dollars an hour for responsibility pay. Night differentials on top of that.” – 

“The reality is that new grads ARE having a more difficult time being hired at the present time. Like every other industry, jobs in Health Care have been impacted by the current economy. Nurses are not leaving their positions – retiring, moving, changing professions etc, as much as they used to because of economic uncertainties. So there are fewer job openings overall. That being said, as the economy slowly improves, and as more nurses retire because they need to retire, there will be more jobs. SO for those who have found jobs, congratulations! And for those who are still looking, keep the faith, keep a good attitude, keep your license intact, and keep up with what’s going on in your area. Try to get your foot in the door by volunteering, or applying for a different job. Be creative and stay positive.” – 

Omaha, NE:

“I don’t think the job market is as tight as it seems to be in other areas of the country. I work for Alegent Health, which owns probably over half of the hospitals and clinics in Omaha. I see quite a few positions open throughout the system. Creighton Med Center, which is affiliated with the university, has RN openings too. Creighton Univ Med Center is a level 1 trauma center (it shares those duties with the University of Nebraska Medical Center).” – 

“Likewise, for a city of its size, Omaha has remarkably good healthcare via a number of hospital systems including Nebraska Med. Ctr., Creighton (in conjunction with Boys’ Town), Children’s, Alegent, and Methodist, as well as an excellent network of out-patient agencies. Like all areas of the country, our local economy is hurt by the recession. Not as bad as most places, as unemployment here is at about 5% (high by NE standards, but better than most states.) Healthcare is a somewhat elective expense. No one can put off treatment for a heart attack, but elective procedures like cosmetics, Lasik, and even planned orthopedic surgeries drop off in hard economic times, so nursing jobs are harder to come by. And Omaha has a number of nursing education programs (UNMC, Clarkson, Creighton, Methodist, Metro., Iowa Western), so competition is stiff for new grad jobs. That said, I don’t know of too many new grads who are out of work here. It may not be their clinical area of choice, or full-time, but most seem to find something. I was a SAHM for 12 years and was forced back to work when my hubby was laid off. My license was current, and I had no trouble finding a job of my choice. That was 2 years ago.” – 

Wichita, KS:

“I can speak only as an upcoming nursing graduate, but landing the first job is becoming quite difficult in this area. We are saturated with nursing programs and many new grads are having a difficult time. Pretty much have to take whatever unit and whatever shift is available. Probably not what you wanted to hear.” – 

“The decades-long nursing shortage in Wichita appears over – at least temporarily. Graduating nursing students are finding fewer job openings and more competition from experienced nurses who have stayed on or returned because of the economic downturn. And even as the demand for nurses slows, the supply continues to grow as more training slots at more schools open up.” – 

“Hutchinson Regional (used to be called promise regional [and was hutchinson regional before that]) pays $19.28 starting in ICU with no previous experience.” – 

Minneapolis, MN:

“Hello and welcome, I don’t have much advice…but you can try Fairview Health services–I think they hire ADN-RN if going back for BSN. I think HealthEast only wants BSNs. Most of the hospitals are BSN preferred but you can try them. HCMC, Regions, Regina, Lakeview. I do not know the wages as I am a new RN myself I was an LPN, but I work at a clinic in the Twin Cities area.” – 

“I work in Southern MN now. Starting salaries range from $20/hr up north (where I started as a new grad) to about $28/hr in SE MN. These are hospital starting salaries, clinics pay less as do outpatient surgery centers. I’m sure the Twin Cities wages are higher than up north so probably around $26-28 for new grads in the hospital.” – 

Des Moines, IA:

“I work in a smaller hospital. I get paid 21.00 with a 1.50 extra for night shift. I have friend that got a job in Des Moines and I can tell you that the pay difference is nothing. She gets paid around the same as I do.” – 

“As a new grad LPN in LTC: $17/h. Same facility when I got my RN: $21/h. This is in Johnson County.” – 

“I can only give you my thoughts on Des Moines. I’d look at Blank Children’s Hospital for higher level NICU. Please be aware pay for MN to IA is vastly different. We are worst in the nation for nursing pay. Also Iowa city is a college town, Des Moines is the capital, we awesome suburbs! Just my two cents.” – 

Kansas City, MO:

“I can speak from very recent experience that finding employment as a new grad is, indeed, tough. For me, getting interviews wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was beating out the other 5-7 people also interviewing for the position. My sincere well wishes to all the new grads still looking. Just got hired on in a Rehab center in MO. Will be making $26/hr for day shift.” – 

“$23 sounds about right for the metro from what I hear. I worked with a gal who graduated from JCCC in 2008 or ’09 and started at Olathe @ 22.00/hr. if I remember right. She eventually moved to St. Louis for a better paying job.” – 

Milwaukee, WI:

“24.80/hr. in Eau Claire, WI (floor nursing in a hospital).” – 

“Not positive but I did interview at KMH which is a sister hospital and they start at 21.75/hour. Aurora starts at 23.70/hour plus awesome tuition reimbursement for RN to BSN. Basically 100%!” – 

Chicago, IL:

“I will be graduating in May, just got a job where I will be making $22.30 for evening 3-11 shift, plus weekend differential. I live in central IL.” – 

“I’m a new grad and just accepted a position in southern Illinois – $20.50/hour plus differentials for nights/weekends.” – 

“Hi, the RNs that I know that resides in the hospital as a new grad makes $25/hr, I know some new grads that made $26/hr-$28/hr in a nursing home facility. All places pay different amounts. It is possible to live in Chicago on an RN salary, you really have to budget your money and work lots of overtime. Also, you can work in a nursing home or hospital, and work on the side doing home health. Most home health agencies pay $60/per vist, with the latter being $85/per visit. It all adds up. You just have to work in more than one facility or work more than 80 hours bi-weekly.” – 

Detroit, MI:

“$23-24/hr plus evening ($1.50+) and weekend differential ($2) in Detroit area hospitals.” – 

“Just got hired in Detroit. $24.81 + differentials.” – 

“Doctor’s Hospital in Pontiac and DMC are hiring new grads. You just may have to work midnight shifts ….I know several people that just graduated in May and are working there now as nurse techs until they pass their NCLEX. Many of the hospitals around SE Michigan have a hiring freeze or are not hiring new grads due to budget reasons. They prefer nurses with experience. Good luck in your job search and let us know how it worked out!” – 

Indianapolis, IN:

“New grad in northern Indiana. Just got hired in a small town LTC facility. 20hr + 95cents for 2nd shift diff. Not exactly what I expected but thankful to get a job.” – 

“I just graduated in May and started in Pediatrics in June, I start at $22.50/hr in Indiana, + $4.00 more an hour for 7pm -7am shift differential. This is a smaller town as well.” – 

Cleveland, OH:

“I just graduated with my BSN in Cleveland in January and was very lucky to find a job at UH on the mother/infant unit where I did my preceptorship which I will be starting in about a week. I found this job under the ‘RN–Less than 1 yr experience’ category on the UH job website. Many of my classmates were hired at UH by applying for jobs in this category. Right now, there isn’t anything posted, but if you check every day jobs will eventually appear for new grads! Once you see a job posted, you should apply immediately because the new grad jobs tend to only stay posted for a few days before they are removed from the website.” – 

“I would say the payscale for Cleveland in general is around $25-27/hr for new grads, which is pretty good, especially considering the cost of living here is pretty low! I hope this helps.” – 

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

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