Economy & Jobs

Texas: The Best State to Start Your Nursing Career

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A career in nursing is an increasingly popular choice among Millennials. This tech-savvy generation is drawn to the medical field’s numerous technological advances. On top of that, you’ll likely always be able to find work in this field, and the starting salary is often much higher compared to most first jobs after college.

But where’s the best place to live and work as a nurse? Where can you keep more of your hard-earned money? Texas is a great option, due to its lack of state income tax. Plus, WalletHub ranks Texas as one of the top 10 states for nurses in terms of job opportunities, competition, salary, and other factors. But, more importantly, the state ranks as number one for the highest average nursing salaries (adjusted for cost of living) in the country.

There are other benefits to starting your nursing career in Texas, too, making the Lone Star State stand out among the rest. Here’s a look at just a few.


Texas boasts a wide array of graduate nursing programs that are recognized across the nation. University of Texas—Austin, for instance, ranked 13th in the country from U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 ranking of best nursing schools, while charging lower-than-average yearly tuition: $11,572 per year (in-state) and $21,155 per year (out-of-state). Other Texan universities making the top 50 list include: University of Texas Health Science Center—Houston (26th), University of Texas Medical Branch—Galveston (43rd), and Texas Woman’s University (48th).

Low Cost of Living

Determining the best city or town to live in and how much it’ll cost depends on your current income, marriage status, and your typical expenses. Some of the more affordable cities to look at, according to Fixr, include areas around Dallas such as Fort Worth, Mesquite, Garland, and Arlington. The average total expenses for a young Texan worker paying for necessities such as housing, food, and utilities ranges from about $18,000 to $22,000. According to a 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the median annual nursing salary is $64,690, which means you could end up with quite a surplus of money at the end of the month simply by choosing to live in Texas.

Recreation, Arts, and Culture

Looking for recreational activities for when you’re not on the job saving lives? Texas, home to numerous state parks, monuments, and historical sites, offers lots of opportunities for outdoor adventure. With its many lakes and lush campgrounds, the largest southern state is a popular destination for camping, hiking, golfing, kayaking, fishing, and other activities.

If the outdoors isn’t your thing in between nursing classes and rotations, you can spend your days off exploring the art and culture that Texas has to offer. The Dallas Museum of Art, for example, is home to both local artists and works of art from famous painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Jackson Pollock.

Music also plays a huge role in Texas. The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) celebration of music, independent film, and emerging technologies is one of the largest of its kind. This year’s SXSW festival alone saw more than 30,000 music professionals descend on Austin and more than 2,200 musical acts performed. From big stages to small venues, Texas welcomes music lovers everywhere to find music that connects to them.

Pairing a career in nursing with a move to Texas could be a smart way to start out in the field. You’ll be able to create both a well-rounded career and lifestyle while putting more money in your pocket by paying zero state income tax.

Carrie Smith is the financial writer and the owner of, a site that helps creative freelancers discover the art of making a living. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship. She's been featured in The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, Yahoo! Finance and many other business websites. Find her on Twitter at @carefulcents.