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How much does a traveling nurse make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of trained registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow exponentially compared to the average growth for all other occupations. Experts project this increase will hit 15 percent by 2026, meaning that there will be copious opportunities in the travel nurse industry.

If you’re looking to start a career as a travel nurse, by now, you likely have a couple of motivators driving your decision, and generous compensation probably ranks at the top of the list. Typically, several factors, such as specialty, length of the contract, and region, determine a travel nurse’s salary. However, with the availability of so much conflicting information across the internet, it’s often hard to tell the exact amount earned by a travel nurse.

Here’s a complete guide for those aspiring travel nurses that’ll help you calculate the average traveling nurse’s salary in your area.

What’s a travel nurse?

Before examining the factors used to determine a travel nurse’s pay, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this particular healthcare professional’s job responsibilities. Travel nurses are skilled healthcare specialists who take short-term assignments in hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities worldwide. These professionals often help fill gaps in fields where there are shortages. In most cases, they’re employed by a medical staffing agency rather than a single healthcare facility, meaning that they can work anywhere, whether it’s a local clinic or a location abroad where healthcare services are needed.

Travel nursing is considered a lucrative and rewarding career for its many benefits, ranging from higher pay, diversity, flexibility, and high growth potential.

Travel nurse requirements

You’ll need to meet a few requirements to qualify as a travel nurse. Firstly, to join the travel nursing industry, you must be a registered nurse with a valid license. Additionally, you must have been practicing as a nurse for at least two years.

Although travel nurses’ duties vary tremendously between different specialties, most nurses must assume a list of general responsibilities. For example, a travel nurse will often examine patients, discuss their condition and medical history, and provide treatment to their patients.

As part of said treatment, these healthcare professionals administer medication and treatment and conduct essential research. Nurses also collaborate with other medical professionals to promote high-quality patient services through the development of high-quality standards.

Travel nurse salary

To calculate a travel nurse’s compensation, you’ll need to base the salary off the average median income of a registered nurse in the U.S. In many scenarios, travel nurses can earn about $3,000 weekly. They can charge as high as $50 per hour in addition to the hospital-paid housing benefits. The travel nurse’s total salary is the summation of these earnings and stipends, which is approximately $100k per year.

It’s important to note that the specialists work under different travel positions throughout the year. Therefore, the figures are subject to change based on the nurse’s schedule, job conditions, overtime, and the hospital’s policies.

Other travel nurse compensations

Besides the high salary, a travel nurse can expect additional perks that a typical staff nurse might not qualify for. A standard compensation package of a travel nurse incorporates the base salary, bonuses, and additional stipends. Other additional payments may include travel expense reimbursement, meal, housing, and incidental allowances.

The benefits may also include life insurance options and reimbursement for books, scrubs, and nursing supplies. They can also receive health insurance, including medical, vision, and dental. The stipends for travel nurses receive come in two forms: taxable and non-taxable hourly rates. This non-taxed compensation often caters to expenses like meals and housing.

Factors that impact the salary of a travel nurse


A travel nurse’s level of specialty will likely determine how much they earn. A highly-skilled specialist typically makes more than their non-specialized counterparts, such as psychiatric specialties. With this in mind, specialized nurses with unique expertise and credentials can attract a more lucrative salary and endless opportunities.


The salary for travel nurses varies significantly depending on region, state, or country. Usually, different states provide different rates, so the assignment’s location can influence the nurse’s pay. The rates often reflect regional trends and the location’s cost of living. Some of the highest paying regions include New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington. On the contrary, the Southern areas offer lower compensation because they enjoy relatively lower costs of living.


As a rule of thumb, night shift assignments attract higher rates than day shifts. So a travel nurse working at night should expect to make more than those working during the day.

Final thoughts

For a career that’s equally rewarding as it is well-compensating, consider venturing into the travel nurse industry. As a working travel nurse, you can enjoy high pay and bonuses, free private housing, and even travel reimbursements. Don’t restrict yourself to a given hospital or area. Explore the world you while serving your community.