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Travel Nurse Salary: What is Per Diem Pay?

Nurse in scrubs looking at travel nurse salary per diem rates on tablet

Travel nurse salary is a big reason many people choose to become travel nurses, as travelers can make significantly more than many permanent RNs. If you’re a nurse considering a travel nursing assignment, you might be wondering about per diem pay. Many contracts include per diem pay because you’re traveling away from home. Here’s what you need to know about per diem pay for travel nurses.

If you’re looking for travel assignments as a registered nurse or LPN, check out our job board now to see available opportunities.

What is Per Diem Pay for Travel Nurses? How Does It Affect Travel Nurse Salary?

If you’re looking for a travel nurse job, you might have noticed that opportunities on our job board list an estimated weekly pay and per diem rate. This is basically how much you can make from the assignment. Per diem pay is basically tax-free income. 

Travel nurses are often eligible for this type of pay because they’re traveling away from home for work, basically duplicating a lot of expenses like housing and other typical living costs. This means you can receive additional money to make up for these extra expenses in addition to the travel nurse salary for the individual assignment.

Nurse in scrubs looking at travel nurse salary per diem rates on tablet
As part of your travel nurse salary, per diem earnings can help offset your cost of living while traveling.

How is Per Diem Pay Calculated for Travel Nurses?

For travel nurses, per diem pay is an attractive financial bonus. This type of payment is calculated based on the rate of living in a specific area. The IRS sets maximum per diem rates for each day the person is traveling based on the cost of living in the area. The idea is that per diem rates pay for things like lodging, food, and incidentals.

So, depending on where you go for your assignment, the per diem rate will change. That’s why you’ll often see different per diem rates on different contracts, which is a big contributing factor to the differences in travel nurse salary for each job. If you work in places with higher costs of living, then typically you’ll receive higher per diem pay for the assignment. Just keep in mind that you’ll also probably be paying more for things like your travel nurse housing and food as well. Therefore, it’s important to make sure it will be worth it for you before taking the contract.

Benefits of Per Diem Pay as Part of Travel Nurse Salary

For travel nurses, per diem pay is often pretty attractive, as it’s typically tax-free income. You can use that income however you choose. In some cases, it may mean using the entire per diem rate to pay for essentials like housing. However, many others actually work to find cheaper alternatives to save money on their per diem pay. This means they can keep the rest of the extra and boost their regular pay.

How to Maximize Your Earnings with Per Diem Pay as a Travel Nurse

Travel nursing is an exciting way to explore the country while earning a competitive salary. One of the key attractions to this career is per diem pay — extra tax-free income which can boost your overall earnings significantly. To make the most of per diem pay, it’s important to pay careful attention to your contract terms, including not only the weekly pay rate for the assignment, but also the per diem or stipends available. As we mentioned, there are things you can do to actually spend less than the allotted per diem rate. This allows you to really bolster your travel nurse salary and make the most from each assignment.

Now, you might assume this means looking for jobs only in areas with the highest cost of living, since they tend to have the highest per diem rates available. However, remember you’ll also need to live in this area and that things tend to be more expensive in high cost of living areas. So, it may not be the best strategy.

Once you choose the right assignment for you, then you can go about looking for ways to cut spending on the things your per diems are for. For instance, you can choose travel nurse housing a little farther away if it is less expensive or you might even find a room to rent instead of private housing, which can be quite cost-effective and save you money. You can do the same for food and incidentals as well so you’re spending less of the per diem pay on those costs.

AHS NurseStat – A Travel Nursing Agency that Cares for You

Working as a travel nurse can be an incredibly rewarding career that offers great benefits. Per diem pay is one of those amazing benefits, offering travel nurses the opportunity to realize even higher earning potential. When looking for a travel nurse job, consider what per diem pay is, the benefits it provides, and how to maximize earnings with it. With the guidance of AHS NurseStat, you have all you need to make the most out of your per diem pay. We’re a top travel nursing agency to help you find opportunities all over the country so you can get a job that suits you best. So why wait? Make your dreams a reality by browsing our job board today or reaching out to our expert recruiters to become a travel nurse with AHS NurseStat!