The Best States for Nurse Practitioners in 2016

There are a few states that stand out as the most favorable for nurse practitioners. Often, as a profession we focus our state rankings when it comes to nurse practitioner friendliness on scope of practice. We look at the ability for NPs to practice independently of physician oversight. But, what happens when we also take other factors that make a state a great place to live into consideration?

Here at ThriveAP, we took a multifaceted approach to our search for the best states for nurse practitioners to live and practice. First, we took scope of practice laws into account, prioritizing states that allow independent nurse practitioner practice. We also looked at salaries for nurse practitioners in these states, factoring them into our ranking. Then, we took other lifestyle factors into account, such as cost of living. Using the Best States to Make a Living rankings, we identified states that also offer a low to medium cost of living and/or favorable income tax rates. Finally, we also noted how the state ranks in terms of overall freedom, which takes into account state fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and limitations to personal freedom. 

The following are the best states for nurse practitioners in 2016. 

1. Washington

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Average Salary: $100,530

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 2

Freedom Ranking: 32

Washington State has long been recognized for having some of the most favorable scope of practice laws for nurse practitioners in the nation. While the cost of living in Washington is higher than in many other states, the state does not have an income take giving it a leg up on other locations. Nurse practitioners practicing in the Evergreen State also enjoy salaries that are significantly above average, topping the $100,000 mark. 

2. Alaska 

Average Salary: $115,670

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 24

Freedom Ranking: 5

Alaska is known for the unique career opportunities it has to offer NPs. From practicing in the wilderness, to making patient visits by float plane, the state affords unlimited opportunity to the adventurous NP. Not only will nurse practitioners in Alaska benefit from unique practice opportunities and the ability to work without physician supervision, the states doesn’t have a sales or income tax. 

3. New Hampshire 

Average Salary: $100,000

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 34

Freedom Ranking: 1

New Hampshire nurse practitioners can live true to the state’s motto ‘Live Free or Die’. Not only is New Hampshire ranked as the most free state in the nation, residents do not pay state income tax on earned wages. NPs in New Hampshire may practice independently and earn substantial salaries for doing so, with the average salary in the six-figure range. 

4. Wyoming 

Average Salary: $90,400

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 1

Freedom Ranking: 13

Nurse practitioners practicing in Wyoming may not earn average salaries in the six-figure range. Their dollars, however, will go far. The state’s low cost of living combined with a lack of state income tax make Wyoming a great place for NPs to live. Not to mention, nurse practitioners practicing in the state enjoy the freedom if independent practice. 

5. Idaho

Average Salary: $94,040

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 21

Freedom Ranking: 7

Idaho consistently finds itself on a variety of ‘Great Places to Live’ lists given its lower than average cost of living, moderate climate, and unmatched great outdoors. The state’s culture strays from excessive regulation making Idaho the seventh freest state in the nation. Nurse practitioners practicing in Idaho enjoy similar liberties with highly favorable scope of practice laws. 

6. Minnesota 

Average Salary: $102,640

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 10

Freedom Ranking: 37

Minnesota boasts independent nurse practitioner practice, a six-figure average salary for NPs, and a low unemployment rate. While the state does have an income tax, the favorable economic climate and freedoms given to NPs, make Minnesota a great place for nurse practitioners to call home. 

7. North Dakota 

Average Salary: $88,520

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 4

Freedom Ranking: 12

North Dakota’s got it all when it comes to freedom. Nurse practitioners enjoy independent practice and the state’s freedom ranking is near the top of the list. While North Dakota does have a state income tax, the state’s tax rate places the lowest burden on wage earners. 

8. Arizona

Average Salary: $100,590

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 22

Freedom Ranking: 14

Arizona makes a solid all around place for nurse practitioners to live. With a moderate cost of living, yet higher than average salaries for nurse practitioners, NPs practicing in the state afford an excellent lifestyle. Scope of practice laws support independent practice making the Grand Canyon State a top pick for NPs. 

9. Iowa 

Average Salary: $92,770

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 18

Freedom Ranking: 9

The cost of living in Iowa is significantly lower than average. Paired with favorable scope of practice regulations, this makes Iowa a great place for NPs to practice. 

10. New Mexico 

Average Salary: $100,490

Best Place to Make a Living Ranking: 40

Freedom Ranking: 30

New Mexico may not top the list of freest states in the nation, or best places to make a living. However, New Mexico’s commitment to the nurse practitioner profession is noteworthy. NPs in the state enjoy independent practice and average six-figure salaries in a state with an average cost of living. As an added bonus, New Mexico also offers NPs practicing in rural areas a $3,000 tax credit. State Governor Susana Martinez sees nurse practitioners as a key component to providing healthcare in the state ensuring a continued favorable practice environment. 

How does your state rank as a place for nurse practitioners to live and work?


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