Travel nursing is a popular career path for registered nurses looking for flexibility, adventure, and higher pay rates. Travel nurses work on temporary assignments in healthcare facilities across the country, filling in gaps in staffing and providing patient care.
One of the key benefits of travel nursing is the potential for higher salaries than permanent nursing positions, with many travel nursing assignments offering additional incentives such as travel reimbursement and housing allowances. However, the pay rates for travel nurses can vary significantly depending on various factors, including specialty, location, and experience level.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to travel nurse salaries, including average pay rates across different specialties, top-paying states, and ways to increase your salary. If you are interested to learn more specifics as to how much a travel nurse makes an hour, follow the guide below.
Table of contents
- What Is a Travel Nurse?
- Travel Nurse Salary in 2023
- Career Outlook for Travel Nurses
- Benefits You Will Receive as a Travel Nurse
- Ways You Can Increase Your Travel Nurse Salary
- What’s the Bottom Line?
What Is a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse is a healthcare professional who works on a temporary basis in various healthcare facilities across different locations. Travel nurses are highly skilled and experienced, often working in critical care units or other specialized areas of nursing.
The role of a travel nurse is to provide temporary staffing support in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, usually for a period of 13 weeks or longer. The facility may hire them directly or work through an agency specializing in travel nursing assignments.
Travel nurses enjoy a high degree of flexibility, as they can choose their assignments based on location, specialty, and contract length. In addition to competitive salaries, travel nurses often receive benefits such as housing, travel expenses, and health insurance.
This career path is ideal for those who love to travel and want to gain experience working in different healthcare settings.
Travel Nurse Salary in 2023
The salary of a travel nurse may vary depending on a few factors, such as location, experience, and specialty. According to recent data, the average annual salary for travel nurses in the U.S. is $106,030 or $51/hr. However, the salary range can vary widely on the factors mentioned above, with the lowest salary reported at $31,000 and the highest at $179,500.
Lowest- and highest-paying states for travel nurses
Location plays a significant role in a travel nurse’s salary. The cost of living and demand for healthcare services vary significantly from state to state and even within cities, which can substantially impact a travel nurse’s compensation. But how much do travel nurses make in each state?
Below you can find the list of states with the lowest travel nurse salaries. The list goes as follows:
- Texas $87,843
- Nebraska $85,776
- Idaho $85,262
- Kentucky $82,639
- North Carolina $81,884
- Arkansas $81,209
Conversely, the average travel nurse salary in some states exceeds $100,000. More specifically, New York is the highest paying state for travel nurses, reaching up to $104,675, followed by Idago with $102,559, and California with $100,323.
Now that we have covered the highest and lowest paying states for travel nurses, let’s see what city travel nurses make the most money in. The first in the list of the best cities for travel nurses to make the most money is Barrow, AK, with $137,200, followed by San Jose, CA, with $133,873, and Oakland, CA, and Antioch, CA, with $132,042 and $129,387 respectively.
Salary based on the different types of travel nurses
Travel nurse salaries can vary based on their specialty, as some specialties require more experience, skill, and demand, resulting in higher pay rates. To provide an idea of the highest-paying travel nurse specialties, we have listed the average annual salary for each specialty in 2023:
Salary based on experience
Experience plays a crucial role in determining the salary of a travel nurse. In most cases, the more experience a travel nurse has, the higher their pay will be.
Experienced travel nurses possess valuable skills and knowledge which can benefit the healthcare facilities they work for. As a result, many employers are willing to pay a higher salary to attract and retain experienced travel nurses.
In addition, experienced travel nurses often have a deeper understanding of their specialties and can handle complex cases with greater ease. This means they can work more independently, which is particularly valuable in rural or remote locations where staffing may be limited. Moreover, experienced travel nurses have often worked in various healthcare settings, making them adaptable and able to easily handle new situations.
According to Zippia, travel nurses with entry-level experience earn an average annual salary of $66,600, whereas mid-level experienced travel nurses have an average annual salary of $83,700. Lastly, senior-level travel nurses can expect to earn an average annual salary of over $115,000.
Career Outlook for Travel Nurses
The career outlook for travel nurses is positive, with increasing demand for their services in various healthcare settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of registered nurses, including travel nurses, will grow by 6% from 2021 to 2031.
This growth is due to an aging population that requires more healthcare services, a greater emphasis on preventive care, and advances in medical technology that allow patients to receive care outside of traditional hospital settings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for more healthcare workers, including travel nurses, to assist with sudden surges in patient volume. Overall, travel nursing offers an exciting and rewarding career path with considerable growth and professional development opportunities.
Benefits You Will Receive as a Travel Nurse
Travel nursing comes with a range of benefits that make it an attractive career choice:
- Travel nurses have the opportunity to work in different healthcare settings, which allows them to broaden their skills and experience.
- Travel nurses typically earn higher salaries than their permanent counterparts, and many travel nursing assignments offer additional incentives, such as sign-on bonuses, travel reimbursements, and housing allowances.
- Travel nurses often have greater flexibility in their work schedule, allowing them to take time off between assignments to pursue personal interests or spend time with family. Travel nursing also enables nurses to explore new cities and regions, providing a unique cultural experience.
Overall, travel nursing offers numerous benefits, making it an appealing career path for many nurses.
Ways You Can Increase Your Travel Nurse Salary
There are several ways that a travel nurse can increase their salary, such as:
- Specializing in a high-demand area: Consider specializing in an area with a high demand for travel nurses, such as intensive care or emergency departments. Specializing in a high-demand area can increase your value as a travel nurse, leading to higher-paying job offers.
- Gaining more experience in their specialty: They can achieve this by taking on challenging assignments and pursuing advanced certifications.
- Negotiating higher pay rates when signing on for new assignments: This may involve researching typical salaries for their specialty in the location they will be working and negotiating with their agency or employer.
- Taking on additional responsibilities: More responsibilities at work, such as precepting new staff or taking on leadership roles, can lead to increased compensation.
- Traveling to higher-paying locations: Travel nurses can seek assignments in high-demand areas where pay rates may be higher due to a staff shortage.
What’s the Bottom Line?
In conclusion, travel nursing can be a rewarding and lucrative career path for registered nurses who enjoy new challenges and experiences. While the pay rates for travel nurses can vary depending on multiple factors, including expertise and location, there are many ways to increase your salary as a travel nurse, such as gaining experience in your specialty, negotiating for higher pay rates, taking on additional responsibilities, and more.
It’s essential to do your research on typical pay rates for your specialty in different locations and to work with a reputable travel nursing agency that can provide you with competitive pay rates and additional benefits. With the right approach, travel nursing can offer you a fulfilling career and a comfortable lifestyle while exploring new places and meeting new people.
Don’t wait any longer to start living your best life as a travel nurse. Take charge of your career and find your next high-paying placement in a desirable location today!
Nurse Luke is a CRNA who specializes in Nursing content and still enjoys a very busy career with Locum, Per Diem and Travel nursing in the greater midwest. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field and received his CRNA masters degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Healthcare. He is passionate about helping nurses explore the options of becoming a travel nurse as well as spending time with his Family.