The Best States To Start a Healthcare Career

September 2, 2016

The Best States for Healthcare Jobs

Starting a healthcare career today is a popular choice for recent graduates and those looking to change jobs alike. But whether you’re looking to start your life or get a fresh start, the question of where to find the best healthcare opportunities in the US remains.

To answer your question, we've gathered data from every state (plus the District of Columbia) to find out which state has the best opportunities for starting your healthcare career: specifically Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations (this includes doctors, dentists and surgeons along with allied healthcare workers).

We looked at the total number of employees in the field, the average hourly wage, and the prevalence of healthcare jobs in that job market. All of this data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


While Alabama may have the 13th highest proportion of healthcare jobs as a percentage of the total jobs in the state (around 6.5%), that’s offset by its having the 12th lowest annual mean (average) wage in the country at $68,600. Still, with the cost of living in Alabama relatively low, it’s a good choice for someone looking to go south.


phalinn / Flickr / CC BY

Alaska, on the other hand, boasts the second highest mean wage for its healthcare sector in the entire country at $91,670. Contrast that with a cost of living that’s slightly below average. Still, there are fewer healthcare jobs to go around in Alaska, as this sector makes up just above 5% of the workforce there.


Offering a relatively average sized healthcare sector (the 36th largest at 5.5%) and the 21st largest average annual pay at $76,420, Arizona has a lot to offer. Just make sure you bring your sunscreen.


Getting a healthcare job in Arkansas might not be as difficult as other states, with healthcare making up 6.3% of all jobs in the state. However, at $66,680, the average annual salary of a healthcare worker in Arkansas is 47th in the entire United States.


If you’re looking for a high healthcare salary, then look no farther than California. Workers in the healthcare sector in California make more than any other state in the union, an average of $95,230 per year! It just might be hard to snag one of those healthcare jobs, though, as the sector makes up just 4.8% of the job market (only Utah, DC, and Nevada are behind). Still, there are large differences in hiring across this large state.


Similar to Arkansas, Colorado comes in a bit higher than middle of the road for healthcare workers. The average annual income is above average at $79,200 (18th in the country), while healthcare workers make up 5.3% of the workforce. Still, if you’ve always dreamed of finding a healthcare job a mile high, there’s no better place.


Pan American Health Organization PAHO / Flickr / CC BY-ND

No doubt one of the best places in New England to start a new healthcare career, Connecticut boasts the 8th highest average annual salary for healthcare workers in the country, $87,110. Plus, the healthcare industry makes up 6.1% of all the jobs in the state. Massachusetts may do a little better, but Connecticut is no slouch.


Not surprisingly, considering the entire district is a city, DC has the 5th-highest average salaries for healthcare workers ($90,290). Of course, that comes accompanied with a high cost of living (as well as an excellent quality of life depending on where you live in the DC area). Yet, with so much of the population based in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, DC also ends up with the second lowest proportion of healthcare workers at 4.4%.


With a fairly large healthcare workforce (6.5% of all jobs in the state) and an average annual salary of $82,020, Delaware looks fairly similar to its neighbors, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. It ranks in the top 15 of nearly all of our metrics.


It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that a state with as many retirees as Florida has plenty of healthcare career opportunities (though not as many as 19 other states), but those jobs don’t come with very large salaries. Largely owing to a low cost of living in most of the state, the average annual salary is just $73,240.


NTNUmedicine / Flickr / CC BY-NC

When it comes to healthcare jobs, Georgia is fairly middle of the road. True, you’re likely to find more demand in the fast growing Atlanta suburbs, but the state overall has just 5.5% of its workforce in healthcare, earning an average of $74,690 a year.


Who wouldn’t want to start a healthcare career in sunny, beautiful Hawaii? Not many, it seems. Hawaii has a very competitive industry, with just 4.8% of its workers employed in healthcare. Those workers, however, make an average of $90,560 per year! Only Alaskans and Californians earn more.


If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to settle, Idaho is a solid choice for finding a healthcare job. It’s no standout – with 5.4% working in the healthcare field and earning just under $71,000 a year, financially, it’s not one of the better choices nationally.


The presence of the nation’s third biggest city isn’t enough for Illinois to stand out either. Average annual salaries are 27th in the country at $74,650, and 5.6% of Illinoisans work in the healthcare sector.


NEC Corporation of America / Flickr / CC BY

Like its Midwestern neighbors, Indiana doesn’t have particularly high average salaries, with the average worker earning $71,750. What makes it worth consideration is the size of its healthcare industry, which makes up a solid 6% of the state workforce.


In spite of some excellent state universities offering great healthcare education, Iowa ranks fairly low for the size of its healthcare workforce (5.4%), and their annual salaries ($68,370), though this is also fairly standard compared to its neighbors.


Coming in at 38 out of 51, Kansas isn’t going to wow anyone with the average salaries in its healthcare field ($69,600), or the percentage of healthcare workers (5.7%). But there are always more healthcare career opportunities in next-door Missouri.


Surprisingly, Kentucky has managed to develop the 6th largest healthcare sector as a proportion of its workforce (6.7%). Unfortunately, this is coupled with the 44th lowest average annual salary at just $67,570.


Louisiana is a bit of a dichotomy when it comes to its healthcare sector. There should be plenty of healthcare jobs there, as they make up more than 6.5% of its workforce, but in terms of salary it’s placed dead last with just $62,790 per year on average. Sadly, this is accompanied with wider job market losses throughout the state.


Maine has always been a great place to enjoy the simple pleasures of small town life and incredible nature. But, it turns out it also has excellent opportunities in its healthcare sector. Maine has the 16th highest average income at $79,350, and the second highest percentage of healthcare workers in the country at an incredible 6.9%.


NTNUmedicine / Flickr / CC BY-NC

There’s no denying Maryland is an excellent place to start a healthcare career. Whether you’re looking at the rural part of the state of the DC suburbs or elsewhere in the state, it boasts the 16th largest healthcare sector as a percentage (6.3%) and the 14th highest average income ($83,580).


Even among the high performing New England states, Massachusetts is a standout with the 4th highest average income for its healthcare sector ($90,530), and the 4th largest healthcare sector by percentage (almost 6.9% of the workforce).


Michigan performs well for the midwest, but is fairly run-of-the-mill nationally with the size of its healthcare workforce at just 6.3% (17th nationally) and the annual income at $76,330 (22nd nationally).


Performing similarly to its neighbor Michigan, Minnesota has 6% of its workers in the healthcare sector earning the 19th best average income in the country at $78,570.


Considering Mississippi still holds the title of the poorest state in the union, it’s no surprise that only Louisiana healthcare workers earn less. In Mississippi, healthcare sector workers earn an average of just $64,920, though they do make up a fairly large 6.8% of the workforce.


The Show Me State may have plenty to offer, but its healthcare sector is far from burgeoning. Currently, average wages there are 45th in the country at $67,370, though workers from the healthcare sector do make up about 6.7% of the workforce.


Rural and rugged Montana may be a standout for its natural beauty, but its healthcare sector doesn’t match. Average income is 31st in the country at $73,200 and healthcare workers make up 6.4% of its workforce.


Orbis UK / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

With the 43rd highest average income ($67,800) and the 26th largest healthcare workforce as a percentage of its overall working population (around 6%), Nebraska is another Midwestern state with an okay healthcare job market.


Nevada remarkably manages to have the smallest healthcare sector as a percentage of its workforce in the entire country. Just 4.2% of working Nevadans work in healthcare. Still, with the 11th highest average income at $86,350, there are reasons to consider working there.

New Hampshire

Boasting almost the same average annual income as healthcare workers in Nevada, $85,650, New Hampshire also has a larger healthcare sector, making up 5.8% of all workers. That’s pretty good nationally, but middle of the road for New England.

New Jersey

If you’re looking to start a new career in healthcare, you could hardly do better than New Jersey, which boasts the 6th highest average salaries, $89,540, and a solid 5.6% of the workforce in the healthcare sector. Plus, there are some excellent hospitals to work in.

New Mexico

Ranking right about in the middle of the pack in nearly all of our metrics, New Mexico offers a decently-sized healthcare workforce (5.6% of the workforce) and average salaries ($74,660). So New Mexico is not a bad place to start a healthcare career, but you could probably find better options in another state.

New York

Boosted by the powerhouse of New York City, New York State has the 10th highest average healthcare salaries in the country at $86,660. Add to this the nearly 5.7% of the workforce who are currently working in the healthcare sector and it’s clear there are plenty of opportunities in New York.

North Carolina

phalinn / Flickr / CC BY

In spite of its high-tech research triangle around Durham, North Carolina’s healthcare sector is middle of the road with 6.2% of state workers in the field and an average salary of $72,570.

North Dakota

One of the least populous states in the country, it’s no shock that North Dakota doesn’t have a particularly large healthcare sector in spite of its recent oil boom. Currently, 5.4% of workers are in the sector, making an average of $68,300 per year.


It’s been said many times that Ohio is a microcosm of the US and that’s true of its healthcare industry as well. It comes in 32nd out of 51 in terms of healthcare salaries ($72,690), and 8th in the country in terms of the size of its healthcare field at 6.6% of all workers.


Definitely on the lower end of the spectrum of healthcare salaries, Oklahoma ranks 39th in average salary at $68,620 and 27th in the size of its healthcare workforce at 5.9%.


Like many other wealthy states, Oregon has a fairly small healthcare sector with just 5.3% of all jobs in the state, but the average pay more than makes up for that. The typical Oregonian working in healthcare makes $88,250 per year. That’s the 7th best in the country.


In spite of its several major cities and size, Pennsylvania is more like a Midwestern state than a northeastern one in terms of its healthcare sector. Both its average salary ($73,250), and the size of its healthcare workforce (6.6%) are fairly standard.

Rhode Island

Fitting in better with its northeastern neighbors than Pennsylvania, Rhode Island has the 9th best average salaries for healthcare workers at $87,000, with those workers making up 6.5% of its workforce.

South Carolina

Similarly to its neighbor to the north, South Carolina has a fairly average healthcare sector both in terms of salaries ($70,740) and the percentage of its workers in that sector (6%).

South Dakota

Monash University / Flickr / CC BY-NC

Without the economic boom its northern neighbor has experienced recently, South Dakota ranks 46th in terms of healthcare salaries ($66,700), while remarkably having the third largest percentage of workers in healthcare at 6.9%. Still, of the hiring going on, healthcare dominates, so it’s a good time to find a job there.


Similarly, Tennessee also has a fairly large healthcare sector (6.5%) accompanied by lower than average wages, 48th in the country at $66,050. Though these numbers will vary widely between rural parts of the state and cities like Nashville.


In spite of its large size, Texas hardly compares to other big states like California in either its average healthcare salaries ($74,540) or the size of its healthcare sector (5.3% of state workers).


Utah ranks fairly low in its average salary for healthcare workers at $70,250, but it’s third from the bottom in terms of the size of its healthcare workforce. Just 4.7% of all workers in Utah have healthcare jobs.


NTNUmedicine / Flickr / CC BY-NC

Being one of the more rural states in the northeast, Vermont manages to have slightly higher than average healthcare salaries at $79,210, and a fairly standard 6.1% of its workforce employed in healthcare.


Virginia has quite a dichotomy when it comes to healthcare salaries, with two of the highest-income counties found in its northern suburbs (Loudoun and Fairfax) and poorer rural areas throughout the rest of the state. The result is fairly average numbers for average annual wages ($75,390), and nearly 5.4% of workers in healthcare.


Much like its neighbor Oregon, Washington healthcare workers are highly paid, making $84,300 a year on average, but they make up just 5.1% of the workforce.

West Virginia

West Virginia is yet another state with a huge contrast. It has the third lowest paid healthcare workers in the country, but those workers make up a remarkable 8% of the workforce, the highest in the country.


Wisconsin makes up another middle of the road Midwestern state for anyone looking to start a healthcare career in that region. It’s 24th in average salaries at $75,150, and has 5.7% of its workforce employed in healthcare.


Similarly to many rural states, Wyoming healthcare professionals make less than average annual salaries at $76,530 per year, and make up a very small percentage of the workforce at less than 5%.

Where are you considering starting your healthcare career? If you’re interested in a career in allied healthcare and finding opportunities in the New Jersey area, consider an allied health program with AIMS.