What to Know About Travel Nurse Salary

nurses looking at jobs with high travel nurse salary

Traveling the world is an exciting prospect, but many traveling nurses also choose to travel because of the financial benefits. The average travel nurse salary is often much higher than staff nurses, meaning you can make quite a bit of money while traveling around the country and doing what you love. Let’s talk about what affects your salary as a travel nurse and some common elements of traveling nurse compensation packages. 

What Affects Travel Nurse Salary?

nurses looking at jobs with high travel nurse salary
You can find many assignments with high travel nurse salary as a traveling nurse.

How much does a travel nurse make? Well, there is no simple answer to that question, as compensation packages vary based on each assignment. Just as the location and contract length is often different for every assignment, the salary can also change based on demand. Therefore, it’s important to talk to a recruiter about your salary needs to determine what traveling may look like for your unique needs. 

The national average traveling nurse salary, according to ZipRecruiter, is $99,202 per year, which is about $48 per hour. However, you can make more or less depending on which types of assignments you take and how many assignments you take in a year. There are also several other factors that can affect your salary, including geography, specialty, and experience. 

Geography Affects Travel Nurse Salary

Travel nurses are in demand all over the country, which means you can find an assignment practically anywhere. However, geography does affect your travel nurse salary. This often comes down to demand as well as the local economy, cost-of-living, and the demand for nurses. For instance, traveling nurse assignments in big cities typically pay more than those in rural areas, though not always. There are also certain states that generally pay more on average for traveling nurses. While this changes by demand, New York and California typically are on the higher end. In short, keep geography in mind if you’re looking for the highest salary for traveling nurse assignments.

Specialty Affects Salary

Your specialty also affects your salary as a traveling nurse. Nurses with certain specialties tend to be in higher demand, which means the salary is typically higher due to competition. Once again, this can change, but ER nurses, OR nurses, and ICU nurses are frequently in demand and therefore often make higher salaries. In addition, the level of education typically plays a role in your salary. For instance, assignments for registered nurses typically have a higher travel nurse salary compared to assignments for LPNs. 

Experience Impacts Travel Nurse Salary

Also, just like other positions, your experience may also affect your salary. If you’re just starting out as a traveling nurse, this may affect which assignments you take and, therefore, your salary. We require at least two years of experience from our travel nurses before they can start taking traveling assignments. However, the longer you’re in the industry, often the more you can make. Our recruiters can discuss how your specific circumstances may impact your salary as a traveling nurse. 

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Travel Nurse Salary

Another factor that is currently affecting travel nurse salary across the nation is the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel nurses are in high demand all over the country, particularly in pandemic hot spots. Many facilities are willing to pay significantly more to ensure they have plenty of nurses on staff to provide quality care for their patients. In fact, a large number of hospitals are submitting “crisis contracts” which include premium pay. Average travel nurse salary has skyrocketed since the pandemic started, with some traveling nurses making double what they did in pre-pandemic times. Therefore, now is a great time to start traveling and take advantage of these incredibly high salaries and benefits. 

Elements of a Travel Nurse Salary

As we talk about travel nurse salary, it’s also important to discuss the different elements of a compensation package. After all, salary is more than just the check you receive each week. There are several different pieces that make up an entire compensation package, including base pay, bonuses, and other benefits. 

Base Travel Nurse Pay

When we talk about travel nurse salary, base pay is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Base pay is usually listed as an hourly rate for your assignment. This is what you make for every hour you work during your assignment. For instance, if your hourly rate is $30 and your assignment requires 40 hours per week for 13 weeks, the gross base pay for the entire assignment would work out to be around $15,600 if you work all the required hours. This amount is typically taxable, so your take home pay will be slightly different. However, keep in mind that the check you receive is just one part of the compensation package for travel nurses. 

Bonuses Add to Your Travel Nurse Salary

In addition to the base pay, many assignments also include bonuses. This depends on the assignment. However, some facilities do pay sign-on bonuses, completion bonuses, or performance bonuses. In addition, our agency often runs referral bonuses where you can refer another travel nurse candidate for positions and specialties we need. 

Free Housing or Housing Stipends

Traveling nurse compensation packages also often include housing options to help with the costs of lodging while on assignment. Generally you have two choices for housing from your traveling nurse agency. You can live in the free housing found by our housing department or you can take a housing stipend. If you choose our housing options, you don’t pay anything for your stay while you’re on assignment and we provide private, fully-furnished lodging near your assignment facility. However, if you’d rather find your own housing, you can also take a stipend to help cover the costs. 

401(k) Matches

Another great benefit as part of your compensation package is 401(k) retirement savings account options and matching. This means you can save for the future and also get some of your savings matched by our agency. 

Insurance Packages

Aside from the travel nurse salary, insurance is typically the next thing people think about for compensation packages. You can get medical, dental, and vision insurance while working as a travel nurse for our team for just $15 per week. We also offer professional liability and malpractice coverage for travel nurses as part of your compensation package.

Reimbursements for Licensure and Credentials

As you work as a travel nurse, you may have opportunities to get additional credentials and licenses for each assignment you take. These are great to have, but do often require payment to receive. Fortunately, a benefit of working with our agency is we offer reimbursement options for some of these costs, so you get the benefit of having these additional credentials while we help pay for some of the costs. 

AHS NurseStat – Your Agency Specifically for Travel Nurses

If you’re a nurse that is ready to start earning more and traveling around the nation, our team at AHS NurseStat is here to help. We are an agency specializing in placing travel nurses throughout the U.S. We offer top compensation packages and work hard to give you the best experience possible. Our recruiters get to know you and your goals and help you find assignments that fit your wants and needs. Whether you have a bucket list of locations or want to find jobs that offer the highest salaries, we are here to match you with the perfect assignments. Our team is always here for you, from finding new assignments to just having a chat about your experience. Get in touch with a recruiter today to get started or on our job board to take advantage of the AHS NurseStat experience. 

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