The Best-Paying States for Caregivers in 2021

Over 3 million caregivers work in the US,1 but even the best-paying states pay caregivers about 35% to 43% less than the average salaries in those states.

Caregivers, health aid, or personal care workers often work as independent contractors or for small businesses that connect them to clients. To help caregivers find the best places to work, we’ve mapped out which states pay caregivers the best.

As part of our ongoing top salaries series, we compare the average salary of caregivers in each state against the overall average salary in their state. 

We also found out how many hours caregivers would have to work to afford one-bedroom rent in each state. 

Best and worst map
COVID considerations

Since the pandemic began, the hard work, essential roles, and comparatively low pay of care workers came into the limelight. Because the virus posed a greater risk to older adults and those living in care facilities, their caregivers also faced greater risks.

While the American Rescue Plan provides some much-needed relief for caregivers, more companies are also recognizing the business value of caregiving and adding more caregivers, nurses, and nannies to their payroll to avoid absenteeism, turnaround, and other caregiving-related business issues.

Hopefully, with increased awareness and demand, caregivers will see increases in pay across every state.

The best-paying states for caregivers

  • North Dakota ranks the best for caregiver pay, with an annual mean wage of $34,020— which is still 35% less than the average worker in North Dakota.
  • Nationally, care workers earn an average of $28,060 per year.
  • Caregiver pay in the best-paying states ranges anywhere from $27,800 to $35,360 but also ranges from 35% to 43.7% less than average wages.
  • Rural areas pay caregivers better than urban or high populated areas. Although there may be fewer available jobs to fill, rent may also be a lot less expensive in rural areas.

Which states employ the most and fewest caregivers?

  1. California employs the most caregivers with 597,500, followed by New York (469,370) and Texas (309,540).
  2. South Dakota employs the fewest caregivers with 3,100, followed by Wyoming (3,670) and North Dakota (6,210).

The worst-paying states for caregivers

  • The District of Columbia ranks last on our list, with caregivers being paid 67% less than the average worker. Virginia is a close second, with caregivers being paid 61% less than the average worker.
  • Although Texas has some of the highest numbers of caregivers employed, caregivers there make 58% less than the average salary in Texas.
  • The majority of the lowest-paying states have high populations.

In which states do caregivers have to work the longest to afford their rent?

  • In the best-paying states, most caregivers can expect to work 40–60 hours per week.2 If affordability is a concern, you’ll want to look to places like North Dakota, Kentucky, and Iowa.
  • The average hours worked to afford rent in the best-paying states is 53, compared to the national average of 69.8 hours, or the worst-paying states at 81 hours.
  • Kansas caregivers can afford the average one-bedroom rent price with 44.4 hours of work—the lowest in the nation.
  • In Oregon, Alaska, and Kentucky, caregivers have to work the longest to afford their rent at 109, 99, and 98.8 hours, respectively.

State-by-state caregiver compensation comparison

Rank
State
Caregivers annual mean wage
All occupations annual mean wage
Percent less that Caregivers earn compared to the state mean wage
Hours worked to afford median rent for Caregivers
1North Dakota$34,02$52,450-35.1%44.4
2Vermont$33,810$53,420-36.7%54.4
3South Dakota$27,810$44,960-38.1%50.0
4Idaho$27,800$46,800-40.6%58.1
5Kentucky$27,310$46,000-40.6%47.1
6Iowa$28,450$49,280-42.3%48.3
7Maine$29,440$51,220-42.5%54.1
8Montana$27,090$47,270-42.7%56.4
9Alaska$35,360$61,760-42.7%64.4
10Wyoming$28,810$51,180-43.7%52.1
11Utah$28,850$51,430-43.9%71.4
12Oregon$30,730$56,880-46.0%72.0
13Nebraska$27,120$50,260-46.0%54.8
14Arkansas$23,510$44,780-47.5%51.0
15Arizona$27,740$53,400-48.1%70.4
16Mississippi$21,520$41,600-48.3%57.8
17Missouri$25,840$50,140-48.5%53.0
18Indiana$25,030$48,650-48.6%55.6
19Georgia$26,600$51,940-48.8%67.0
20Rhode Island$30,790$60,240-48.9%60.8
21Wisconsin$26,150$51,250-49.0%59.3
22South Carolina$23,560$46,230-49.0%64.4
23Nevada$25,650$50,360-49.1%83.7
24New Hampshire$28,850$56,730-49.1%72.2
25Florida$25,410$50,020-49.2%89.8
26Minnesota$29,330$58,720-50.1%65.9
27Hawaii$29,030$58,190-50.1%109.4
28Colorado$30,350$60,840-50.1%86.2
29Washington$32,860$66,870-50.9%77.9
30Pennsylvania$26,510$53,950-50.9%62.1
31Michigan$26,200$53,390-50.9%58.7
32Tennessee$23,130$47,530-51.3%64.4
33Illinois$28,250$58,070-51.4%65.5
34Massachusetts$33,890$70,010-51.6%73.7
35Kansas$23,520$48,610-51.6%59.5
36New Mexico$23,850$49,650-52.0%64.3
37Ohio$24,670$51,510-52.1%55.8
38West Virginia$21,730$45,380-52.1%52.7
39California$31,270$65,740-52.4%98.8
40New York$32,140$67,850-52.6%77.0
41Oklahoma$22,320$47,340-52.9%60.0
42New Jersey$28,860$63,690-54.7%88.5
43Connecticut$29,450$65,450-55.0%71.4
44North Carolina$22,920$51,010-55.1%68.5
45Maryland$28,520$63,610-55.2%91.5
46Alabama$20,960$46,840-55.3%59.2
47Delaware$25,350$56,700-55.3%78.7
48Louisiana$19,800$46,460-57.4%75.0
49Texas$21,750$52,400-58.5%88.8
50Virginia$23,360$60,160-61.2%97.1
51District of Columbia$31,810$95,330-66.6%99.0
National$28,060$56,310-50.2%

Methodology

To rank, we compared the average caregiver salary with the average salary in each state.

Caregivers include home health aides and personal care aids.

To measure affordability, we compared caregiver salary to the median contract rent for one-bedroom apartments in each state.

Sources

  1. Bureau of labor statistics, “Home Health and Personal Care Aides,” Accessed May 24, 2021.
  2. US Census Bureau, “Median Contract Rent,” Accessed May 24, 2021.
Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
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