As with many careers in healthcare, nursing is one of the most rewarding professions you can consider. Not only is there a huge amount of job satisfaction to be found in caring for people who desperately need your help, but there is a healthy financial incentive, too. In fact, registered nurses can attract a high salary in many countries around the world, with some willing to pay more than others.
The best part is that nurses are always in demand and can work almost anywhere. So, if you’ve got the skills and you're wondering where you should be a nurse, here are the countries that will pay you the most.
10. New Zealand
New Zealand is already a hugely popular destination for English-speaking immigrants – especially in the healthcare sector where doctors can also earn sizeable salaries. Known for its rugged landscapes, laidback lifestyle and love of all things rugby, the country also operates a mixed public/private healthcare system that is regularly ranked as one of the best in the world.
Salaries in New Zealand are generally impressive, reflecting the high quality of life there, and those who possess skills in key industries can do very well; the average take-home for nurses, for instance, is $56,318.
9. Republic of Ireland
Another popular destination for English-speaking nurses, Ireland has reinvented itself in recent decades. Traditionally dependent upon agricultural output, government tax breaks for tech and industrial giants such as Facebook and Amazon have kick-started the economy, making the Emerald Isle an attractive proposition for young professionals.
With an average salary of $57,663, nurses can be considered among them; they can choose to work in the government-funded public sector or attempt to earn even more in the country's burgeoning private sector.
No salary compilation list would be complete without an appearance from Switzerland. Across the board, only Luxembourg pays consistently higher salaries, and in amongst all the investment bankers and accountants, nurses are bringing home the bacon, too.
The average take-home for a registered nurse in the country is $58,041, although it's worth considering that the cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high. You'll also need to be a skilled linguist, too, with nurses required to speak a strong level of either German, French or Italian, depending on where you choose to relocate.
7. The Netherlands
As one of the EU's – and, indeed, the world's – most stable economies, the Netherlands is an unsurprising entry to this list. It's a particularly attractive locale for all health professionals, in fact, with the country's healthcare system often deemed the best in Europe.
In line with these high standards, nurses can expect to earn an average take-home of around $60,253, although – despite many Dutch nationals speaking perfect English – you'll still have to get to grips with the local language.
Despite average salaries in Israel not being among the highest in the world, there are certain industries where workers can seriously attract the big bucks. Tel Aviv, for instance, is one of the world's premier tech hubs, while Israel's healthcare system is one of the most advanced and technologically pioneering on the planet.
As a result of these opportunities for professional growth – as well as through investment from both government and private institutions – Israeli healthcare providers are able to attract some of the best in the business. Nurses command an average yearly take-home of around $63,541, which, to give some context, is nearly double the country's average salary.
As with the other Nordic countries, Norway is famous for its socially progressive attitude and high quality of living; inevitably, an efficient and well-performing healthcare system is one of the more noticeable effects of this combination. Nurses can earn an average salary of $66,647, although, depending on their speciality, this figure can rise significantly.
Life in Norway is about more than your wage packet, too. On your days off, you'll also have access to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world, making it the perfect place to recharge your batteries when work becomes too stressful.
Joining its southern hemisphere neighbour, New Zealand, in the top 10, Australia is the perfect location for those looking to combine a well-paid career opportunity with a sunnier and more laidback lifestyle.
Despite its enormous geographic scope, Australia is relatively sparse in terms of population; therefore, skilled workers are nearly always welcome from abroad. Nursing is one such profession, and those who are willing to relocate can expect a yearly recompense of around $72,271. With many thriving, modern and cosmopolitan cities to choose from – and some of the world's most outstanding natural landmarks on the doorstep – it's no surprise that Australia is such a popular destination for nurses.
3. United States
It's no secret that doctors in the US are very well paid; the country attracts some of the finest medical minds in the world, as well as offers some of the best medical schools. Nurses are also in on the act, too, with the country's privatised healthcare system allowing many hospitals and care providers to pay their staff handsomely.
The average salary in the US for a nurse is around $74,250, although there is the potential to earn more in certain states. When adjusted for cost of living, Minnesota and Nevada offer the highest average take-home ($93,000), while Texas and Washington are not far behind ($91,000).
Another regular in the ‘highest paying countries’ lists, Iceland – despite its remote and often hostile environment – looks like a wise bet if you're in the healthcare sector. Iceland boasts a high-quality government-funded health system that is the envy of many larger nations, with nurses looking at an average yearly wage of $87,635.
Of course, despite its otherworldly landscape and Nordic-noir vibe, living in Iceland isn't necessarily for everyone; during winter, for instance, sunlight is heavily restricted. The financial recompense on offer might soften the blow, though, especially if you're located in the stylish capital, Reykjavik.
Known primarily as a haven for financial professionals, tax specialists and accountants, the tiny nation of Luxembourg – nestled neatly between Belgium, Germany and France – is also a prime location for healthcare professionals. Even junior nurses start on around $60,000, while the average annual take-home of $105,749 suggests that there is the scope to earn a serious wedge.
Luxembourg might be small (just 2,500km2, in fact) and competition for jobs is unsurprisingly fierce, but if you are able to get your foot in the door, then you'll be able to reap all the benefits of living in a country that pays the highest salaries in the world.
While these are undoubtedly the best places to live and work in financial terms, there are many other countries where you can earn still earn a good salary as a nurse. Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the other Scandinavian countries all narrowly missed the cut-off, for instance. In terms of the big bucks, though, these are clearly the places to be, so why not brush up on your CV and get your application in?
Which country would you relocate to? Leave a comment below and let us know.
All salary figures are converted into USD using the OECD's 2017 average conversion rate figures, except for Switzerland, which uses the conversion rate given on 13 March 2019 by XE.com.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 13 March 2015.