For most nurses, making the leap to travel nursing is well worth the money. The pay is usually higher than what you will be making as a staff nurse, even if you aren’t eligible for the tax-free stipends. If you don’t understand the travel nursing pay structure, head over to our guide to travel nursing pay packages.
Travel nursing allows nurses to work and explore new places, and to dictate how much time they want to take off in between contracts. Last year, I took two months off for a road trip across the country and into Canada. Can you think of a staff job that would allow you to take more than two weeks off without extenuating circumstances? Travel nurses can adventure more, all while bringing in more cash while they are working.
Do Travel Nurses Make More?
Yes, most travel nurses receive higher pay and compensation than they would as a staff nurse. You have to take into consideration the cost of benefits, duplication of expenses (if applicable), the absence of paid time off (PTO), and the initial cost of getting on the road.
It’s best to have some money saved before you start traveling to cover fees for housing security deposits, and the cost of getting to and from your assignment. Some agencies will reimburse you for the cost of travel, but this is contract specific and the nurse usually has to pay the costs up front.
Many travel nurses chase the money. Usually, if you are flexible to location and shift you can easily surpass your staff pay by hundreds of dollars per week.
Average Travel Nurse Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average 2019 salary of RNs in the U.S. was $35.24 per hour. Travel nurses often see rates above $50 per hour for typical contracts. COVID-19 crisis pay has brought rates of $80+ per hour to nurses in high demand specialties.
The travel nurses market is expected to grow. Already this year, we’ve seen some of the highest demands ever for travel nurses.
Which States Pay Travel Nurses the Most?
There is no easy answer to this question. In the past, the holy grail of travel nursing pay was usually found in California. California is known for its patient ratio laws and strong nursing unions.
But, even in the past, if you were flexible on location it was possible to bring home a $2000+ per week salary. The state that pays the most is the facility with the greatest need in your specialty.
Currently, during the coronavirus pandemic, facilities are paying unprecedented amounts for travel nurses. Specialties like ICU, ED, and PCU/stepdown are highly sought after for travel nurse crisis contracts. The contracts can be found in multiple states and lengths of contracts may vary.