Best U.S. States for Healthcare Jobs in 2021

The demand for healthcare services in the US is at an all time high right now. While it is a lucrative time to start a career in healthcare, knowing where the opportunities for healthcare jobs are more likely to be rewarding can be helpful in making an informed decision.

Whether you are looking to get started with your career in healthcare, or are looking to start fresh in a new location, knowing where the best opportunities in the field of healthcare lie is an added advantage.

We have compiled data from all the fifty U.S. states to uncover where the rewarding opportunities for pursuing a career in healthcare lie.

The following metrics were used in our analysis to determine the best U.S. states for healthcare jobs.

  • Healthcare salaries across different states
  • Per capita healthcare spending in each state
  • The strength of healthcare workforce as a percentage of its overall working population
  • The location quotient (concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration)
  • Average cost of living across each state
  • Number of hospitals in each state

Here are the best states for a career in the field of healthcare ranked in descending order with the pros and cons of each.

1. Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the national leader when it comes to healthcare. The state had moved to adopt massive healthcare coverage expansions years before the affordable care act was passed. Less than 3.5% of the population remains uninsured and the state has 3rd highest healthcare spending across the country.

With healthcare workers earning nearly $5k more than the national average, Massachusetts ranks 5th highest in terms of healthcare salary. The state also ranks highest in terms of location quotient for healthcare jobs which translates to plenty of job opportunities in the medical field.

While the competition remains high owing to the presence of country’s leading medical schools in the state, and the cost of living is also high, the sheer presence of opportunities and state of healthcare delivery in Massachusetts ranks it at the top spot in our list.

2. Alaska

Alaska ranks highest in the healthcare worker’s salary with the top 10% healthcare workers earning $75,816, the highest anywhere in the country.

Currently, the healthcare sector is the state’s largest private sector employer. Out of its 700,000 residents, 38,500 work in the healthcare industry,a 38% growth over the last decade.

While the state’s relatively small population, difficult weather and terrains and isolation from larger markets being their own challenges, less competition especially among specialty physicians, combined with higher salaries, earn Alaska the 2nd highest spot in our list of promising areas for healthcare jobs in the U.S.

3. Connecticut

Connecticut is one of the best places to start a career in healthcare in the U.S. Much like its neighboring state of Massachusetts, Connecticut ranks high in healthcare salaries, with 6th highest salary in the United States.

It also has 13% of its workforce employed in the healthcare sector, indicative of greater job opportunities in the state.

The high cost of living (5th highest in the U.S.) is made equitable by the high salaries that healthcare workers get in the state and Connecticut remains our top pick for starting a healthcare career in the country.

4. New Jersey

New Jersey has the 4th highest healthcare salary among all US states and has 12% of its total workforce employed in the healthcare industry. If you are looking to start your career in healthcare, New Jersey can be a smart choice.

According to the U.S. bureau of labor statistics, New Jersey also has a location quotient of 1.68 for the healthcare sector, which is indicative of good career opportunities. Among the 113 hospitals and 71 acute care hospitals, 5 are nationally ranked and 15 meet national high performing standards in 2020’s ranking of best hospitals in the country.

5. New York

With the healthcare workforce in New York earning 7th highest salaries as compared to the rest of the United States, it remains a good option for people looking to have high paying careers in the field of healthcare.

Not only is New York the 4th most populated state in the US, but it also has the 3rd highest healthcare workforce to population percentage with 13% of its workforce engaged in the healthcare industry. Thus, there are plenty of job opportunities present in the state.

6. Washington

The state of Washington ranks 8th on the healthcare salaries list with a comparatively lower cost of living. In spite of the healthcare workforce getting high salaries, there is a shortage of qualified professionals in the state.

To remedy this situation, the state government is actively inviting medical professionals and passing legislation to make its healthcare environment more friendly to newcomers.

Washington ranks among the states with the lowest percentage of population engaged in healthcare across the country. Only Wyoming, Nevada and Hawaii rank lower. This shortage is indicative of a bright future in terms of healthcare opportunities.

7. Maryland

Ranking 12th highest among the U.S. states in terms of salaries that people with healthcare jobs get, and 12% of the workforce employed in the healthcare industry, Maryland is an excellent place to start a healthcare career.

Maryland also ranks 10th highest on the location parameters, with a location quotient of 1.31, indicating good availability of job opportunities in the healthcare sector.

8. Rhode Island

Like its neighboring state of Massachusetts, Rhode Island ranks high in the healthcare salary department. Healthcare workers in Rhode Island earn the 9th highest salaries in the country.

Healthcare jobs make up for 14% of the total workforce, indicative of high levels of employment in the healthcare sector.

With a location quotient of 1.17, the occupational concentration of healthcare jobs in Rhode island is higher than the national average. Smallest U.S. state is home to 20 hospitals, indicative of a robust healthcare infrastructure.

9. California

California ranks at second spot on the list of states with the highest healthcare salaries. The most populous state in the U.S. also has a high demand for healthcare workers. However, as the demand is high, so is the competition.

California has one of the lowest numbers of people in the healthcare workforce as a percentage of its overall population, making it difficult to land a job in the state.

This combined with the highest cost of living in the U.S. may act as a possible deterrent, but if you are skilled, the career prospects in the state remain high.

10. West Virginia

West Virginia has the highest healthcare workers to overall population ratio. 15% of its entire workforce comprises healthcare workers. However, the state also has the third-lowest salaries for healthcare jobs in the US.

On the plus side, the state has plenty of opportunities in the healthcare sector, making finding employment easier for someone who is just starting out. The state also has the 12th lowest cost of living, making it an attractive option for many and earning a place in our list.

11. Delaware

Delaware ranks fourth highest in healthcare spending as compared to all other states. The healthcare workers in Delaware are the 10th highest paid workforce in the US. Delaware is ranked 6th for Health Care Quality , measured based on preventable hospital admissions, Medicare plan ratings and the quality of nursing homes and hospitals.

With 13% of its total workforce employed in healthcare, the job opportunities in the state are plentiful and well paid, earning it a spot in the list of best states for healthcare jobs in the US.

12. Hawaii

The state of Hawaii has received top scores among all US states for health care access, quality of healthcare delivery and the state of public health. Hawaii has the 11th highest healthcare salaries across the country but has a comparatively lower percentage of workforce engaged in healthcare delivery.

While the competition levels for landing a job in the state are high and the cost of living also rank among the highest in the USA, the rewarding salaries that people with jobs in the healthcare sector earn, land Hawaii in the 13th spot on our list.

13. Illinois

The combination of 13th highest healthcare salaries in the United States and much lower cost of living in the state makes Illinois a good place to start your healthcare career. With 11% of its workforce employed in the healthcare industry and 143 hospitals in the state, the opportunities for jobs are plentiful.

14. Maine

Maine offers great opportunities in the healthcare sector with low cost of living. While the salaries are at par with the national average in Maine, the state ranks 12th highest in healthcare spending and  with 14% of its population working in the healthcare sector, it has among the highest percentages of healthcare employment, 2nd highest in the US.

15. Minnesota

The state of Minnesota ranks 10th on the parameters of percentage of healthcare workers in its entire workforce. With 16th highest salaries in the country, people in healthcare jobs in Minnesota earn $1,300 more than the national average salaries. The state also ranks 15th in terms of healthcare spending and ranked 2nd in a recent survey on best states for availing healthcare services determined by healthcare cost, accessibility, and outcomes.

Overall Rank State Healthcare salary Cost of living Healthcare workforce% Healthcare spending
16 Pennsylvania 19th 25th 4th 14th
17 Michigan 18th 47th 9th 28th
18 Colorado 19th 15th 44th 47th
19 Virginia 22nd 21st 47th 36th
20 Wisconsin 23rd 31st 42nd 19th
21 Ohio 25th 45th 13th 17th
22 Texas 24th 37th 41st 45th
23 Oregon 20th 11th 39th 29th
24 Indiana 26th 40th 22nd 22nd
25 Georgia 27th 42nd 45th 49th
26 Vermont 30th 10th 15th 6th
27 Missouri 33rd 48th 27th 26th
28 New Hampshire 16th 8th 28th 9th
29 Nevada 14th 16th 51st 48th
30 Arizona 22nd 24th 34th 50th
31 Florida 34th 26th 20th 27th
32 North Carolina 32nd 39th 31st 43rd
33 Montana 47th 22nd 11th 24th
34 Idaho 37th 29th 21st 46th
35 Louisiana 30th 36th 31st 32nd
36 Iowa 31st 34th 23rd 25th
37 Kansas 35th 35th 19th 33rd
38 Nebraska 44th 30th 37th 20th
39 Kentucky 38th 44th 24th 30th
40 Arkansas 43rd 49th 19th 38th
41 North Dakota 40th 18th 32nd 7th
42 Oklahoma 39th 43rd 38th 35th
43 Alabama 41st 41st 17th 42nd
44 New Mexico 45th 27th 30th 44th
45 Utah 36th 20th 46th 51st
46 South Carolina 42nd 33rd 40th 40th
47 Tennessee 46th 46th 33rd 39th
48 Mississippi 50th 50th 26th 34th
49 South Dakota 51st 28th 14th 14th
50 Wyoming 48th 19th 50th 21st

In addition to the opportunities that exist in the state that you are planning to start your career in and the monetary pros and cons, there are several other considerations that need to be thought about before you start your career in healthcare.

A due diligence into the legal and licensing requirements and knowledge of telehealth requirements that every state has can be helpful in giving a boost to the career when starting out.

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