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Location, Location, Location!

Even though cost of living tends to offset regional pay discrepancies – therefore making it unlikely a nurse in San Diego is any better off salary-wise than one of equal standing in, say, Reno – it is still interesting to see where nurses are earning the biggest bucks.

Respondents from California reported an average salary almost double that of the mean pay-per-year in Nevada. But which areas of the Golden State are paying the most?

Perhaps due in part to extremely expensive housing costs, the Bay Area, including the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, was reported as doling out the highest annual salaries at an average of $96,932, with a regular hourly rate of $52.53.

Northern California also notched the second and third highest-paying areas in the state: Central Coast/Central Valley ($91,897) and Wine Country/Sacramento ($90,275).

“Overall the data collected is consistent with my own observations,” said Paula Willems, BSN, RN, nursing recruitment programs manager at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Napa. “When I looked at the data from the Wine Country, I noticed that our pay is higher, which may be due in part to balancing the cost of living in this area. But I also think that at our facility this is a reflection of sound hiring practices, which enable us to provide highly competitive compensation packages.”

Respondents from Southern California claimed the lowest wages, with San Diegans earning $86,786 per year, those from Orange County bringing in $81,455, and the Inland Empire and Greater Los Angeles areas each averaging roughly $80,000.

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