How Much Do Travel Nurses Make? | NurseJournal.org (2023)

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Average Pay for Travel Nurses | Travel Nursing Pay Explained | Highest- and Lowest-Paying States for Travel Nurses | Highest-Paying Travel Nurse Specialities | Ways to Increase Pay as a Travel Nurse | Frequently Asked Questions | Learn More

Travel nursing offers a unique work experience with the opportunity to earn above-average hourly wages. These wages may even exceed those of other registered nurses (RNs) with the same education and credentials.

Travel nurses are typically employed by travel nursing agencies and work assignments across the country wherever nurses are needed. Because each assignment is different, the total annual income for travel nurses can vary significantly. Factors include the details of the pay package, where the assignment is located, and nursing specialty.

On this page you will find the most recent information about travel RN salaries, benefits, specialties, and the states with a high demand for travel nurses.

Fast Facts About Travel Nurses

  • Travel nurses generally earn as much or more than staff nurses with the same experience and qualifications.
  • Lodging reimbursement and tax advantages impact travel nursing salaries.
  • The most in-demand travel nursing specialties include labor and delivery, emergency room, and medical-surgical/telemetry.

Sources: BluePipes | The Gypsy Nurse

Average Pay for Travel Nurses

The average travel nurse salary varies greatly depending on the work assignment. Depending on travel location, these practitioners can earn between $3,000 and $7,000 per week, averaging a 36-hour work week. According to Vivian, a healthcare jobs marketplace, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), travel nurses earn just over $3,167 a week, while RNs earn just under $39.78 an hour. However, aspiring travel nurses should note that living on the road leads to additional personal expenses, so the increase in pay accounts for living accommodations.


$7,296

Max Weekly Pay


$3,167

Average Total Weekly Pay

(Video) How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

Source: Vivian

Travel Nursing Pay Explained

Travel nurse pay differs from full-time nursing positions because agencies offer hourly rates for each assignment, meaning RNs can shop around and find opportunities with ideal pay. In contrast, RNs working full time at hospitals, physicians' offices, and other facilities usually rely on raises or additional education to increase their earning potential.

Practitioners considering this role also need to explore what take-home pay looks like for travel nurses. Nursing agencies set their own conditions, so pay packages vary. For instance, organizations may offer an hourly base pay with additional stipends to cover housing or meals, while other companies may offer a higher hourly rate to account for additional expenses.

Hourly Rate
Full-time RNs working at a healthcare facility receive a salary, but travel nurse employers typically offer hourly wages. Practitioners should note that earning potential varies by specialty, location, and shift.
Stipends
Travel nurses need to arrange for living accommodations. Therefore, travel nurse pay often includes a stipend that covers food and housing expenses. Companies may provide housing accommodations or select housing options for travel nurses. Other employers may factor stipends into hourly pay or offer it in addition to RNs' base pay.
Taxes
Taxable income varies for travel nurses. Practitioners who claim a permanent tax home can avoid taxes on stipends. To claim a tax home, travel nurses need to prove that they visit their primary residence once every 12 months at minimum and pay expenses to maintain their primary home. Travel nurses without a permanent tax home get taxed on all earnings.
Benefits
Travel RN salaries may include some benefits. However, most temporary positions do not offer health benefits. Also, travel nurses may not work for a particular agency for an extended period of time to be eligible for health benefits. Travel nurses do receive other benefits, including stipends for living expenses, higher pay, and potential sign on bonuses. Benefits may influence take-home pay depending on RNs' tax status.
Crisis Pay
Travel nurses can take advantage of crisis pay when organizations need practitioners to work additional hours due to lack of staff or hazardous working conditions. For instance, COVID-19 led to increased demand for travel nurses. Travel nurse agencies also saw an increase in applicants as these temporary positions offered significantly higher wages.

Highest- and Lowest-Paying States for Travel Nurses

Travel nurse salaries vary by state and region. Locations in need of RNs typically offer more competitive wages. In fact, the popularity of a particular region can influence travel nurses' earning potential. Less popular locations may pay more, while desirable locations may pay less. Likewise, states with a higher cost of living offer higher wages relative to living costs.

According to 2022 data by Vivian, the top-paying states for travel RNs included New Jersey, North Dakota, and Washington. Practitioners also want to consider the highest-paying specialties to determine earning potential which may vary by state. The following section includes the top specialties in demand.

Highest-Paying Travel Nurse Specialities

Typically, nursing specialties that lack licensed practitioners offer more pay than other specialties, which further increases earning potential for travel nurses. Higher acuity facilities also offer higher pay, as they need skilled practitioners who can meet their patients' needs. The Gypsy Nurse lists five specialties with high travel RN salaries.

adn or bsn Required

Labor and Delivery

Labor and delivery travel nurses provide care for individuals in labor and at birth. These nurses also work with physicians and midwives to oversee patients' initial postpartum care. Responsibilities include providing emotional support and monitoring the patient's condition. Important skills include clear communication and adaptability.

Salary $68,621*

Job Outlook 9% increase from 2020-2030

Learn More About Labor and Delivery Nurses

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Emergency Room

ER travel nurses tend to patients with injuries and illnesses who need immediate care. ER nurses follow the care plan of nurse practitioners or physicians and supervise nursing assistants. Responsibilities include administering treatments, monitoring vitals, managing patients' care plans, and communicating with patients' families. Desired skills or traits include problem-solving, the ability to work under pressure, and empathy.

Salary $72,862*

Job Outlook 9% increase from 2020-2030

Learn More About Emergency Room Nurses

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adn or bsn Required

Medical-Surgical/Telemetry

Medical-surgical and telemetry RNs provide care for patients preparing for or recovering from surgery. These practitioners collaborate with their patients' care team, performing tasks including changing wound dressings, running blood tests, and regularly assessing a patient's condition. Medical-surgical RNs need excellent organizational, communication, and prioritization skills.

Salary $66,000*

Job Outlook 9% increase from 2020-2030

adn or bsn Required

Critical Care – Intensive Care Unit

Critical care travel nurses work with patients experiencing acute or life-threatening injuries or medical conditions. These RNs must receive specialized training to manage their patients. Critical care nurses often work in medical ICUs, pediatric and neonatal ICUs, cardiac care units, and recovery rooms. Nurses working with critical care patients must be understanding and able to work under stressful conditions.

adn or bsn Required

Operating Room Registered Nurse

OR nurses care for patients undergoing surgery. Responsibilities include managing medical equipment, monitoring patients' vital conditions, and educating patients' families. While in the operating room, OR nurses assist surgeons by keeping instruments sterile and completing paperwork. Relevant skills or traits include remaining calm under pressure, compassion, and strong communication.

Salary $75,999*

Job Outlook 9% increase from 2020-2030

Learn More About Operating Room Registered Nurses

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*SOURCE: Payscale, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Travel Nurse

While travel nurse pay may exceed traditional full-time RN salaries, travel nurses can additionally increase their earning potential by considering factors like demand for specialties, understaffed or unpopular shifts, and locations in need of skilled RNs.

Travel nurses should examine the full benefits package to determine if jobs can provide sufficient take-home pay. For instance, regions with a high cost of living may impact how much practitioners actually earn if stipends do not cover all costs.

1. Earn Certification in a High Demand Nursing Specialty.
Earning additional certifications can help travel nurses establish a competitive edge in the field. Potential certifications include advanced care in HIV/AIDS, advanced certified hospice and palliative nurse, and adult health clinical nurse specialist. Practitioners considering a speciality should begin getting experience with their target population and earn a certificate to qualify for the best positions.
2. Seek Out Higher-Paying Shifts.
Higher-paying shifts are often the less desirable shifts. For instance, hospitals may offer shift differential pay for hours outside of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. any day of the week. Likewise, travel RNs may want to consider working holidays and weekends. Many healthcare facilities need RNs to care for patients around the clock.
3. Work in Higher-Paying Regions.
Travel RNs should research job opportunities in higher-paying regions as well. However, higher-paying regions may also include a higher cost of living. In contrast, other regions may offer high pay without the expensive cost of living.
4. Earn Your Advanced Practice License.
RNs considering a career as a travel nurse can increase their earning potential by returning to school and earning a master of science in nursing or doctoral degree. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) possess additional skills, can take on more responsibility, and hold management roles. APRNs also earn a median salary of $123,780 according to BLS data.

Frequently Asked Questions: Travel Nursing Salaries

How much does a traveling nurse make per year?

Travel nurse salaries vary significantly, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19. Factors that can influence earning potential include geographic location and specialty. However, travel RNs should anticipate working 46 weeks a year and earning about $3,167 on a weekly basis.

Do travel nurses get paid more?

Travel nurses typically earn more than full-time salaried RNs because they often take job assignments where there is a nursing shortage. Travel nurse agencies also pay practitioners by the hour and offer additional benefits, including housing and meal stipends.

Is travel nursing worth the money?

Travel nurses generally earn more than salaried RNs. However, practitioners should consider their lifestyle as well. For instance, an RN with a family may not feel the additional pay outweighs time at home, while another practitioner may find the pay suitable and enjoy the travel opportunities.

Do travel nurses get time off?

Travel nurses often do not receive time off since they work hourly and take temporary job assignments. While assignments vary, travel nurses should plan to work for 8-26 weeks at a time. Most travel nurses schedule time off between job assignments.

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Learn More About Travel Nurses

FAQs

How much does the highest paid travel nurse make? ›

Telemetry Travel Nurses hold one of the highest-paying travel nursing jobs, earning approximately $130,870 annually. This wage is equal to $62.92 hourly, $2,517 weekly, or $10,910 monthly.

What is the lowest salary for a travel nurse? ›

However, recently-licensed travel nurses tend to earn a much lower starting salary of $37.71 while their more experienced counterparts earn an average of $82.06.

Where do travel nurses make the most money? ›

Historically speaking, the highest paying states for travel nurses include California, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, and New York. Southern states tend to have lower living costs and, in turn, lower travel nurse pay. Areas that are considered “destination locations” (like, Hawaii and Florida) may pay lower.

Why is travel nurse salary so high? ›

1) High need = higher pay.

Travel nurse staffing agencies work specifically with hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that have a high demand for nurses, which means they are willing to pay more to reach adequate staffing levels or to cover known leave of absences.

Why does travel nursing pay so much? ›

So, why do travel nurses get paid more? It's because they fill short-term needs, accept assignments in areas with severe nursing shortages, receive extra compensation for their flexibility and work in hard-to fill specialties.

Can you negotiate travel RN pay? ›

As a travel nurse, you have a unique opportunity to negotiate your pay and compensation in a different way from traditional staff nursing positions. Your agency may be able to help you get additional compensation since they're responsible for helping the hospital find the best nurses.

Is being a travel nurse worth it? ›

Basically, by the time you add everything up, including your housing, health insurance for travel nurses, and competitive salary package, it's a very lucrative career. And when tax time rolls around, you also get to enjoy many different travel nurse tax deductions. Just remember, these deductions can vary by location.

Will travel nursing always pay well? ›

Travel nurses make an average of $98,031 per year, or $47 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. This is a higher number than RNs, who earn an average annual salary of $77,600 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are several reasons why travel nurses make more money than other nurses.

What is the most in demand travel nurse? ›

6 Top Travel Nurse Specialties
  • Emergency Room (ER) Travel Nurses. One type of travel nurse specialty that is always in high demand is emergency nursing. ...
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Travel Nurses. ...
  • Progressive Care Unit (PCU) Travel Nurses. ...
  • Telemetry Travel Nurses. ...
  • Labor and Delivery (L&D) Travel Nurses. ...
  • Pediatric Travel Nurses.
21 Sept 2022

How many hours do travel nurses work? ›

Travel nurses typically work 40 hours per week in one of the following shift models: 5 x 8-hour shifts. 4 x 10-hour shifts.

What city has the most traveling nurses? ›

Top 20 Travel Nurse Destinations for 2022
  • Anchorage, AK. ...
  • Jacksonville, Florida. ...
  • Falls Church, Virginia. ...
  • Phoenix, Arizona. ...
  • Tacoma, Washington. ...
  • Atlanta, Georgia. ...
  • Honolulu, Hawaii. ...
  • Morgantown, West Virginia.
28 Feb 2022

How do hospitals afford travel nurses? ›

An agency will usually take around 30% of the full bill rate and of that, profits might be around 20-25%. Agencies usually make profits somewhere around the ballpark of $5,000 – $6,000 per 13-week contract depending on the specialty, if we work all our hours, and how big they are.

How much money do you actually make as a travel nurse? ›

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average travel nurse salary in 2022 sits at about $51 per hour. That's significantly higher than the average hourly rate of registered nurses, which is about $38 per hour. For most travel nurses, this rate translates to a weekly wage of about $1,800.

How is travel nurse pay broken down? ›

Assuming a 40-hour work week, travel RNs earned $65.80 per hour. However, some travel RN jobs were paying up to $8,400, depending on the specialty and location. In comparison, travel LPNs averaged $1,530 per week or $38.25 per hour in a 40-hour week. Staff LPNs were earning about $23.32 per hour.

What is the shortest travel nurse contract? ›

Short Travel Nurse Contracts

It is possible to get shorter travel nurse contracts of four, six, and even two weeks in certain circumstances. If a hospital has someone out on short-term disability, for example, they may need a temporary nurse for just a short amount of time.

Can you work overtime as a travel nurse? ›

Most facilities who take travel nurses have staffing shortages (which is why you're there in the first place) and will frequently offer overtime shifts for staff and travelers. Depending on the facility, you can make between 1.5 to 2 times the pay rates for overtime shifts over 36 or 40 hours/week.

Can you quit a travel nurse contract? ›

Travel nurses do have the ability to cancel their own contracts but it is not recommended. The majority of reasons travel nurses cancel are because of family emergencies, personal health problems, facilities not adhering to agreed time off and schedule, and a poor working environment.

Is travel nursing worth it in 2022? ›

The average pay has fluctuated throughout the pandemic, but a travel nurse should expect to earn around $3,300/week (as of early 2022), knowing that figure may change a little as time goes on.

Do travel nurses have a life? ›

The short answer is “Yes.” And for the better. As many have discovered, travel nursing is a unique career option that can provide you with new opportunities, experiences and perspectives. Here are just a few of the things you can expect to happen when you choose the travel nursing lifestyle.

Is a travel nurse a stressful job? ›

However, travel nursing can also be a stressful profession. According to one study published in Nursing Research and Practice, 92% of nurses have moderate, high, or very high levels of work-related stress. Travel nurses also experience their own unique set of stressors on top of those suffered by regular nurses.

Does travel nursing get lonely? ›

Do Travel Nurses Get Lonely? Yes, but it is possible to avoid travel nursing loneliness! In addition to working, many things can keep you occupied while on assignment. To help you cope with loneliness while away from your family and friends, we have compiled a list of things you can do.

How much should a travel nurse spend on housing? ›

You'll see travel nurse housing stipends as low as $700 per month and as high as $5,000 per month. Housing stipends vary dramatically between regions. They also vary with bill rates. Housing stipends will almost always cover the cost of suitable housing in the area you are traveling to.

Can travel nurses make 6 figures? ›

Absolutely! It is possible for a nurse — especially travel nurses — to make six figures. Making $100k or more as a nurse involves: Understanding that where you work may influence your pay.

What is the highest paid travel job? ›

High-paying travel jobs to consider
  1. Airline pilot. National average salary: $44,761 per year. ...
  2. Hotel manager. National average salary: $51,151 per year. ...
  3. Infection preventionist. National average salary: $70,568 per year. ...
  4. Geologist. ...
  5. Executive recruiter. ...
  6. Marine biologist. ...
  7. Senior auditor. ...
  8. Marine engineer.

What states need travel nurses the most? ›

Top States in Need of Travel Nurses
  • California.
  • Texas.
  • New Jersey.
  • South Carolina.

Are travel nurses happy? ›

Despite the high pay, our 2022 State of Nursing study found that the travel nurses surveyed (127 in total) are actually reporting the highest levels of dissatisfaction, burnout, and work-life balance compared to other types of nurses.

Do travel nurses get days off? ›

They do. A travel nurse can take as much unpaid time off between assignments as they would like. And paid vacation days are often negotiated with the facility at the time of contract. The number of vacation days the facility will allow may vary.

What do travel nurses do every day? ›

On a typical day as a travel nurse, you might do things such as conduct physical exams to assess a patient's condition, listen to patients and care for their needs, provide counseling to patients, and coordinate with healthcare providers.

Where are nurses the happiest? ›

But Nurse.org found that nurse educators, home health nurses, nurse managers, OR-perioperative nurses, and pediatric nurses reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.

How often are traveling nurses gone? ›

A. Most assignments last 13 weeks, though some travel jobs may be as short as 8 weeks while others may be as long as 26 weeks. Many assignments are renewed if the traveler and the hospital are in agreement. Some travel nurses extend multiple times, when the job is a perfect fit!

Why do hospitals hire so many travel nurses? ›

Exhaustion, burnout and other pandemic-related factors have pushed many to leave full-time bedside positions for less stressful jobs in insurance and telehealth, hospital and recruitment executives said. And some are moving to travel nursing for the scheduling flexibility and variety.

Can travel nurses make 200k? ›

“It is also worth noting that some COVID-era federal funding designed to support increased labor costs due to travel nursing ended in spring 2022, further reducing health systems' financial flexibility.” Even with the decrease, travel nurses can make nearly $200,000 per year, assuming a weekly rate of $3,080.

Is travel nursing worth the money? ›

Basically, by the time you add everything up, including your housing, health insurance for travel nurses, and competitive salary package, it's a very lucrative career. And when tax time rolls around, you also get to enjoy many different travel nurse tax deductions. Just remember, these deductions can vary by location.

How can a travel nurse make 100K? ›

12 Tips to Make $100K as a Travel Nurse
  1. Be flexible. ...
  2. Get certified in a speciality field. ...
  3. Find your own housing. ...
  4. Work with the best agencies. ...
  5. Work with multiple agencies. ...
  6. Maintain multiple state licenses. ...
  7. Sign-up for rapid response staffing. ...
  8. Communicate with your recruiter.

Who are the highest paid nurses? ›

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $202,470 per year according to the BLS; this makes CRNAs the highest-paying type nursing job by a significant margin.

What type of nurse is most in demand? ›

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.

How many hours do travel nurses work a week? ›

Travel nurses typically work 40 hours per week in one of the following shift models: 5 x 8-hour shifts. 4 x 10-hour shifts.

How can a nurse make 6 figures? ›

HOW TO MAKE SIX FIGURES AS A NURSE?
  1. Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) ...
  2. Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) ...
  3. Become a Nurse Midwife. ...
  4. Advance in Nurse Leadership. ...
  5. Begin travel nursing assignment. ...
  6. Change Nursing specialties. ...
  7. Relocate to a higher paying state. ...
  8. Make sacrifices.

How do nurses double their income? ›

8 Ways Nurses Can Increase Their Income
  1. Network. ...
  2. Work Night Shift. ...
  3. Work in Critical Care Areas. ...
  4. Obtain Additional Certifications. ...
  5. Participate in Career Ladder Programs. ...
  6. Move Into Management, Shift Leader, or Charge Nurse Positions. ...
  7. Earn an Advanced Degree. ...
  8. Change Your Industry.

How do you break down a travel nurse salary? ›

Non-Taxable Travel Nurse Pay
  1. $20 per hour – taxable base rate that is reported to the IRS.
  2. $250 per week for meals and incidentals – non-taxable.
  3. $2,000 a month for lodging – non-taxable.
  4. $500 for travel reimbursement – non-taxable.

Do traveling nurses pay taxes? ›

Because travel nurses are paid a bit differently than staff nurses, so too do travel nurses file taxes a bit differently. This is because travel nurses are paid a base hourly rate, that is taxable, and a weekly travel stipend that is not taxable – both of which equal their total pay in a given contract.

Do travel nurses make more than NP? ›

While travel nursing salaries are higher than those of registered nurses and nurse practitioners, there's been a slight decline in the past year. In August 2022, travel nurses were making a weekly average salary of $3,270, which shows a 7.4% year-over-year decrease.

Are travel nurses happier? ›

Despite the high pay, our 2022 State of Nursing study found that the travel nurses surveyed (127 in total) are actually reporting the highest levels of dissatisfaction, burnout, and work-life balance compared to other types of nurses.

Do travel nurses pay for their own flight? ›

As a travel nurse, would I need to pay for my travel and housing? Travel is always complimentary before and after a completed assignment. Not only are they paid for, they're arranged for you too. All you have to do is pack and fly.

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