Travel Nursing

How to Find the Best Travel LPN Jobs

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a medical professional licensed and trained to provide basic patient care in multiple settings. While registered nurses (RNs) provide direct patient care, LPNs usually assist RNs. However, travel nursing isn’t just for RNs. LPNs also have the opportunity to travel and can work in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities around the nation in travel LPN jobs.

Travel LPNs have various responsibilities among assignments, including handling routine tasks of day-to-day medical care, assisting understaffed hospitals, working with patients in nursing homes and providing nursing care in remote areas. Use this guide to find the best travel LPN jobs based on your preferences, salary needs and overall career goals.

The Difference Between an LPN and an LVN

The primary difference between a licensed practical nurse and a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is where you practice. The responsibilities of LPNs and LVNs are essentially the same; the name is the only real distinction. As you travel on LPN assignments, California and Texas are the only states you run into this difference because they’re the only two that use the term LVN instead of LPN.

Despite the differing titles, any licensed practical nurse from another state can apply for licensure by endorsement in Texas and California without further exam requirements, provided they meet the same standards required in these states. These standards include graduating from an approved LPN/LVN program, passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses or the National League for Nursing State Board Test Pool Examination for Practical Nurses and holding a valid LPN/LVN license.

Although you won’t need to take either licensing exam, you must meet other requirements. These include undergoing fingerprinting for a criminal background check and verifying licensure in another state in both states. Texas also requires a Nursing Jurisprudence Exam, but it’s an open-book test you take online.

Benefits of Being a Travel LPN

Becoming a travel LPN brings a myriad of benefits and perks. The flexible scheduling lets you plan your work around your personal life rather than the other way around. Since you often travel to locations in dire need of nurses, you know your presence and skills make a real difference to the people you’re helping.

Travel LPNs also typically make more money than staff LPNs tied to one location or employer. Your travel costs are often covered, and some staffing agencies may even find housing for you, or you can find your own and take the tax-free housing stipend. With the demand for all types of nurses continuing to grow, you can count on job security and potential for advancement. 

Travel LPNs can change up the type of nursing they’re doing to avoid getting bored with their work. Moving from a trauma center to a teaching hospital or a nonprofit clinic can add a touch of excitement to the job and help you find the areas of nursing you love most. The breadth of experience and practical skills you gain help make you even more in demand should you decide to settle in one place and take a permanent LPN position.

Many travel LPNs also appreciate that by working short-term travel assignments they can avoid a lot of the workplace drama and politics that occur at many healthcare facilities. You can get your job done and leave with a sense of accomplishment, without feeling drawn into office politics.

What’s Important in Travel LPN Work? 

Communication is one of the most important elements when considering travel LPN jobs.  Since you usually work with a travel staffing agency with access to a wide range of job opportunities, communication must be front and center to ensure you get what you want from the travel LPN jobs you ultimately take.

Get Details Before You Accept an Offer

Strong communication with your travel nurse agency and recruiter help ensure you understand the specifics of the assignment a healthcare facility offers you. You must know all the details about your job responsibilities and environment, including the hours you’ll work and the work location. You should also know how long you have to respond to the offer and the start and end dates of the assignment. Additionally, the job offer should cover any requested time off and any other specific stipulations or requirements you want to be included. Without clear communication, you may miss some vital information and either miss out on lucrative opportunities or take a job that’s not to your liking.

How Much Does a Travel LPN Make?

Traveling nurses can expect to earn significantly more money than those who stay put. Salaries for travel LPN jobs posted on Vivian on November 6, 2022, averaged $1,505 per week. This figure translates to about $37.63 per hour working a 40-hour week. Some travel LPN salaries paid as much as $3,216 per week on this date. In comparison, staff LPNs earned an average hourly wage of $23.32. 

How to Increase Your Travel LPN Salary

While travel LPNs already earn a healthy salary, you could increase your salary further by accepting the right assignments. The following tips will show you the best ways to boost your travel LPN salary:

  • Take rapid response assignments: Healthcare facilities often pay more for nurses who can answer the call quickly. These situations can occur because of disasters or unforeseen staffing shortages within the facility. Rapid response or crisis travel LPN jobs typically last a short duration, but ongoing issues may extend the role. These positions may include hotel rooms or housing stipends, travel costs and overtime.
  • Accept jobs with tax-free stipends and per diems: Travel LPNs who can claim a permanent tax home generally earn untaxed stipends to cover their housing costs while on assignment. They also usually receive per diems for meals and other incidentals that are also tax-free. The more tax-free perks your salary package includes, the lower your hourly taxed salary will be, which lowers your overall tax liability.
  • Fill in during hospital strikes: When contract bargaining breaks down between a nurses’ union and a hospital, the nurses may go on strike. Hospitals often hire travel nurses to take care of patients until a resolution occurs. Like crisis contracts, strike contracts usually pay much higher rates than standard travel nursing contracts.
  • Take the shifts no one wants: Many nurses want to work a standard Monday-to-Friday daytime schedule to spend time with their families. As a travel LPN, you’re likely to have a bit more freedom to take weekend and night shifts or be willing to work on holidays since you’re away from home. Taking hard-to-fill shifts may result in at least a slight bump in pay but may pay several dollars more in some cases.

Travel LPN jobs

Highest-Paying LPN Specialties

Another way to garner a higher salary as a travel LPN is to gain experience and look for jobs in the specialties that command the highest pay. Comparing the LPN job openings on Vivian during the first week of November 2022, LPNs working in the following specialties earned the most per week:

  • Utilization Review LPNs: LPNs in utilization review are primarily responsible for maximizing the cost efficiency of various healthcare offerings. They may pre-certify patients for procedures and help control costs by influencing patient care decisions. Some work from home, conducting remote analysis and auditing medical records and healthcare facility and patient information. Utilization Review LPNs earned an average of $1,708 per week, 15% higher than the LPN average wage.
  • Float Pool LPNs: LPNs opting to work in float pools literally float between units, filling in when staff nurses are absent. They might float between physical locations when contracting with a healthcare system with clinics in multiple locations. Float LPNs must be well-versed in various skills to provide ideal care in various settings. Float pool LPNs earned an average of $1,695, 14% more than standard LPN wages.
  • Behavioral Health LPNs: These LPNs may work alongside psychiatric RNs, psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals to provide essential care to patients experiencing behavioral health issues. Duties may include assisting during group settings, providing emotional support, reporting changes in patient’s behavior, scheduling appointments, etc. Behavioral health LPNs work in various settings, so specific duties vary. They earned an average of $1,602 per week, or 9% higher than standard LPN wages.
  • Home Health LPNs: In these roles, LPNs provide one-on-one nursing care and various treatments to patients in their homes. They assess, record and report on their patients’ condition and work collaboratively with patients’ healthcare teams to implement and follow specific care plans. Home Health LPNs spend quality time with their patients and often have greater shift flexibility. Their average pay was $1,667 weekly, 13% over the regular LPN wage.
  • Hospice and palliative care: LPNs who help patients with end-of-life experiences may work in a hospice center or travel to patients’ homes. They focus on managing symptoms and pain while providing comfort and support. This position often comes with a great deal of independence, making LPNs responsible for administering medication and wound care without much supervision. Hospice LPNs earned an average salary of $1,570, 8% more than average LPN wages.

Which States Pay Travel LPNs the Most?

Travel LPNs often earn more in some states than others. However, the higher wage often hinges on an area’s overall cost of living or increased demand due to crisis situations or strikes. In early November 2022, the following 10 states had the highest average weekly salaries nationwide.

State Average Weekly Salary Max Weekly Salary
Hawaii $1,805 $2,484
California $1,761 $3,049
North Dakota $1,717 $2,555
Utah $1,694 $2,515
Wyoming $1,683 $2,339
Oregon $1,658 $4,585
Wisconsin $1,650 $3,421
Washington $1,644 $3,216
Nevada $1,643 $2,424
South Dakota $1,632 $2,899

However, taking into consideration the cost of living, Hawaii’s pay rate is nearly 66% higher than the national average and California’s is about 50% higher. The higher cost of living in these states likely impacts the higher wage. North Dakota breaks from this pattern because its cost of living is more than 11% lower than the national average. However, Prairie Public Broadcasting in North Dakota reported the state continues to battle a nursing shortage and remains dependent on travel nurses to fill the gaps.

Other states with lower-than-average pay may even out due to their lower costs of living. For example, the travel LPN salary in Texas during this time was $1,414 weekly or 3% less than the average LPN wage. However, the cost of living in Texas is about 6% lower than the national average.

Oklahoma has an even bigger gap, with an average travel LPN wage of $1,367 weekly, 6% lower than average wages, and an overall cost of living 18% lower than the national average. Florida’s difference basically evens out. It had an average wage of $1,493, 3% higher than the average, with a cost of living rate 3% higher than the national average.

Finding the Best Travel LPN Jobs

Working with the right travel staffing agency can help you find travel LPN jobs that meet your needs and priorities. If you’re looking for a job in a certain state, work with a staffing agency specializing in those states. Vivian Health is a jobs marketplace that works with 100s of staffing agencies, making it quicker and easier to connect with the agencies offering the best LPN jobs. Travel LPN jobs often book quickly, so connecting with a recruiter swiftly can increase your chance of snagging coveted positions. We can also help you investigate the expected salary in different parts of the country through transparent pricing.

Tips for Finding the Right Travel LPN Job

The ongoing nursing shortage impacting healthcare systems throughout the country means numerous travel nursing job opportunities for LPNs exist. However, finding the right travel LPN jobs takes a bit of research. Use the following tips to get started:

  • Stay in touch with your network: Travel LPNs have an opportunity to build a wide-reaching network across the country through each new contract they take. Stay in touch with the recruiters, supervisors and teammates you’ve worked with to get the inside scoop on lucrative openings when they arise.
  • Keep your paperwork in order: Travel LPN jobs often require a lot of paperwork. You must be ready to present your multistate or individual state nursing license, nursing certifications, references, immunization records and skills checklists at a moment’s notice. Stay organized and always keep your paperwork ready to go, which can help you nab jobs with tight deadlines.
  • Build a Vivian candidate profile: Using the Vivian app lets you complete a single universal profile and apply for numerous jobs simultaneously instead of filling out multiple applications. You can also set up job alerts to know when jobs matching your preferences post and receive job offers directly from recruiters based on your profile, saving you the search.
  • Read employer reviews: When considering jobs across the country, checking out a healthcare facility in person usually isn’t an option. However, reading employer reviews helps you get an inside look at a facility’s reputation based on travel nurses who’ve already worked there to help you make an informed decision.

Is Being a Travel LPN Worth It?

Being a travel LPN opens doors they may not have gone through otherwise. For many travelers, just the opportunity to travel and see the country basically for free makes the experience worth it. For others, earning more money (much of it tax-free) is a big draw. Many LPNs also appreciate the opportunity to work in different types of facilities, meet new people and expand their skill sets. While lots of nurses are happy in their permanent LPN/LVN jobs in their home community, if you have the flexibility travel jobs require and a desire to see new sites while putting more money in the bank, a travel LPN job could be right for you.

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