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California RN Salary, Wage Earnings, & Hourly Pay Scale

California employs the highest number of registered nurses in the United States with approximately 252,940 RNs employed in this state, according to May 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale metropolitan division of California is the second largest metropolitan employer of RNs in the country with 69,610 working in this area alone. In addition to employing the most RNs, California is also the highest paying state for this occupation, with the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area, Oakland-Fremont-Hayward area and San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City areas being the highest paid in the state.

In May 2013, the median annual RN salary in California was $94,310. California RNs with earnings in the top tenth percentile were paid $141,030 or more per year. Those with earnings in the bottom tenth percentile made $63,670 or less per year. In the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area, the highest paying metropolitan area, registered nursing salaries ranged from less than $95,290 to upwards of $161,470 in 2013. The median annual salary in this area was $131,840. This is likely related to the high cost of living in this area. Though the RN salary in California is undeniably high, it does not necessarily outweigh the massive cost of living here.

In addition to high wages, California also has a high cost of living. In fact, out of all states and the District of Columbia, California has the seventh highest cost of living. As of January 2014, California's unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the country at 8.4%, according to BLS data. The best way to balance an RN salary in California with the high cost of living is to seek employment in one of the nonmetropolitan areas of the state. Commuting to a metropolitan area with higher salaries, rather than living and working in that area, might also help one achieve this balance. As is true in any state, RNs in California can influence their salary potentials by continuing education and accumulating experience in the field.



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