Table of contents:
- What is a travel nurse?
- How much does a travel nurse make?
- Travel nurse salary by state – highest to lowest
- Chart: Alphabetical travel nurse salary by state with monthly, weekly, and hourly breakdown
- What other benefits will I receive as a travel nurse?
- How to boost your travel nurse salary
A travel nurse is a registered nurse who works for a travel nursing agency; these agencies contract with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to provide temporary staffing for them. Travel nurses typically work 13-week assignments, but some agencies also offer shorter or longer assignments. In addition to their regular duties, travel nurses also often have the opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience in different areas of nursing. Need the basics on travel nursing? Our essential guide will help get you started.
Travel nurses on average earn a higher salary than staff nurses. In addition, travel nurses often receive health insurance and other benefits from their employers.
Travel nurses make an average of $47.98 per hour or $111,975 per year as compared to staff nurses making an average of $42.11 per hour or $89,877 per year (Indeed.com, 2022).
However, travel nurses can make more or less depending on their experience level, the state they work in, and the type of facility they work in. For example, an experienced travel nurse working in California will likely make more than an inexperienced travel nurse working in a small town in Iowa.
Nurses who want to maximize their earnings potential should consider working in one of the 10 best states for travel nurses. Here are the top 10 states for travel nurse salaries, from highest to lowest:
- California: $121,682 per year
- Massachusetts: $120,756 per year
- New York: $120,099 per year
- Washington: $119,025 per year
- New Jersey: $117,439 per year
- Connecticut: $116,585 per year
- Maryland: $116,506 per year
- Colorado: $116,476 per year
- Virginia: $114,843 per year
- Illinois: $114,718 per year
These states offer some of the highest salaries in the country for travel nurses, as well as a high cost of living. However, it’s important to remember that salary is just one factor to consider when choosing a travel nursing assignment. You’ll also want to consider the type of facility you’ll work in, the patient population you’ll be caring for, and your overall career goals.
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In addition to a competitive salary, many travel nursing companies offer a variety of benefits that can sweeten the deal. These benefits can include:
Insurance Coverage: Most travel nursing companies will offer health, dental, and vision insurance as part of your compensation package. Some companies will also offer life insurance and long-term disability insurance.
Retirement (401K) Options: Many companies will offer a 401K plan with matching contributions from the employer. This is an important benefit to consider if you’re looking to save for retirement while working as a travel nurse.
Tax-Free Travel Reimbursement: Travel nursing companies will often reimburse you for your travel expenses, including airfare, lodging, and ground transportation costs. These reimbursement rates can vary from company to company, so be sure to ask about this before accepting an assignment.
Bonuses: In addition to a competitive salary, some companies offer bonuses for completing assignments early or taking on extra shifts. You can also ask for sign-on, completion, and retention bonuses. These bonuses can add up quickly and provide a nice boost to your income.
CEUs (continuing education credits): Most companies will also reimburse you for the cost of continuing education courses related to nursing or other healthcare topics. This benefit can help you maintain your licensure while also advancing your career.
Housing: Many agencies provide free housing either at an apartment or a preferred hotel. You can also request a housing stipend to give yourself choices when it comes to your housing. Want to learn more about the different types of housing? We have a guide for that.
These benefits vary from company to company, so be sure to ask about them when you’re considering taking a travel nursing job.
In addition to these benefits, there are also several things you can do to boost your travel nursing salary even further:
1) Get certified in a specialty area: Nurses with specialized certification (such as CCRN or CNOR) can often command higher salaries than those without certification.
2) Take on extra/per diem shifts: If you’re looking for ways to increase your income, consider taking on extra shifts or picking up overtime hours when possible.
3) Relocate to a high-paying state: As we mentioned earlier, some states offer higher salaries than others for travel nurses. If you’re willing to relocate, you may be able to significantly boost your income by working in one of these states.
4) Get licensed in multiple states: Familiarize yourself with the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). If your state is not in this agreement and you would like to be a travel nurse in a state within it, get licensed there! Both increasing the number of states you’re licensed in and utilizing the NLC will open you up to more travel nursing opportunities.
5) Negotiate your salary: Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary when accepting a new assignment—you may be surprised at how much room there is for negotiation! By following these tips, you can maximize your earnings potential as a travel nurse and enjoy all the benefits that come with this exciting career choice!
6) Refer your friends: Nurses often turn to their friends for recommendations when it comes time to make a decision about which agency they want to work with. Travel agencies can offer bonuses as incentives (and sometimes even cash!) for recruiting your nurse friends – the more referrals, the better!
Overall, working as a travel nurse can be a great way to boost your income and enjoy numerous other benefits. Be sure to ask about the various benefits offered by different companies, and don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary when accepting a new assignment. By taking advantage of these tips, you can maximize your earnings potential and enjoy all the perks that come with this exciting career choice! And if you’re looking to take your nursing degree to the next level and boost your travel nursing salary, be sure to check out Aspen University’s affordable and accredited online nursing programs.