travel nurse

Travel Nurse Salary Guide – 2024

While the nature of a job shouldn’t be judged by salary alone, it does hold a critical place when deciding on one. So, the fact that the average travel nurse salary in the US is $114,602 per year[1] must say something positive about it. More so, in the post-pandemic era when salaries across industries are stabilizing, a travel nurse salary can still hit the range of $155,000 per year[2]!

Average starting salary of a travel nurse

$82,850/year[3]
Median annual travel nurse salary

$81,220/year[4]

Average travel nurse salary in California

$139,130/year[4]
Average salary for travel nurse in NYC

$131,450/year[4]

Travel nurse salary growth projection

6% from 2018-2028[5]

However, such an enticing deal comes with the right mix of experience, specialty, location, and other factors that influence a travel nurse’s salary in the US in 2024. Well, you’re in luck for these are what we discuss in this guide on Travel Nurse Salaries for the US in 2024. Alongside, we shall also delve into the highest paying states for travel nurses in the US, benefits other than the salary for travel nurses, and how to increase your earning potential as a travel nurse.

Suggested Read: 2024 Salary Guide for US Nurse Practitioners

But before we kick off uncovering through the financial side of things, let’s first understand what the job of a travel nurse entails.

Travel Nurse Job in the US

Travel nurses are basically registered nurses (RN) who are stationed on a short-term basis (usually 13-26 weeks long) across various healthcare facilities in the US. They are typically employed by nursing staffing agencies. This concept came into being during the 1970s nursing shortage in the US[6]. It still prevails as nurses view it as an opportunity to build their resume by working at popular hospitals, assess a location before settling in there, or even as a way to discover different parts of the country.

Suggested Reading: Nursing Specialties for the Travel Bug Nurse

At a minimum, a traveling RN possesses 1-year of acute-care experience in a specialty of their choosing. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are also called for the travel nurses positions; however, preferred less.

How Much a Travel Nurse Makes in a Year, Month, and Hour

In general, it is understood that travel nurses make more than permanent nurses – and the extra amount is based on various factors including specialty earnings (that we discuss later). Now, since the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics primarily mentions RNs (but not traveling RNs), we can assume that the national median salary of a traveling RN should be higher than $81,220 per year or $39.05 per hour[7].

However, looking into salary-reported data across job sites in the US, we figure that the average base salary of a traveling nurse typically ranges from $35.45/hour to $68.04/hour[1].

Travel Nurse Pay

Per Hour Per Week Per Month Per Year
Lower end salary $35.45 $1,514 $5,857

$82,723

Average base salary

$49.12 $2,097 $8,114

$114,602

Higher end salary

$68.04 $2,905 $11,241

$158,768

Travel Nurse Salary & Benefits Breakdown

When compared to the average salary of US employees across all industries[8] – which is $11.1/hour – the salary of a travel nurse is certainly decent. But the cash is not all that a travel nurse makes. There are various components to their remunerations that make it even more appealing.

Hourly Pay

While a full-time RN receives a salary from the healthcare facility, travel nurse employers typically offer hourly wages. This means a travel RN salary has relatively more variable weightage based on specialty, location, and shift.

Travel Expenses

Travel nurses usually are reimbursed for their travel expenses like airfare and car travel. If not, they are directly arranged for by their employers.

Accommodation Stipend

The majority of the travel nursing pay package includes housing. Some employers also chip in for Meals, Incidentals, and Expenditures (MI&E) stipend.

Do note that although most travel nurse agencies take care of housing assistance, it can be more economical for travel nurses to arrange for their housing themselves per their preferences.

Bonuses

Depending on the agency or contract negotiated, a travel nurse can also benefit from bonuses for signing on, completing assignments, or extending contracts.

Tax-free Component

Much of a travel nurse’s compensation package may come within the tax-free component, such as housing stipends and health benefits, that reduce their tax liabilities significantly at the year-end.

Other Common Perks and Benefits for Travel Nurses

401(k)

Employee discount Loan forgiveness
401(k) matching Flexible schedule

Paid sick time

AD&D insurance

Flexible spending account Paid time off
Continuing education credits Health insurance

Pet insurance

Dental insurance

Health savings account Referral program
Disability insurance License reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement

Employee assistance program

Life insurance

Vision insurance

*source indeed.com[1]

In addition to these, travel nurses can look for the angle of Crisis Pay as well. In case of a lack of staff or sudden demand (like for COVID-19), healthcare organizations may be open to increasing wages to attract quality candidates in bulk.

So, before signing a contract with a travel nurse agency, do read between the lines, consult other travel nurses, and negotiate your travel nurse salary to the best of your opportunity.

Travel Nurse Salary by State

Of all the factors that affect the travel nurse’s pay, location is arguably the most critical. Across the US, state-based pay differences for travel nurses can range wildly from $62,920 (in South Dakota) to $132,660 (in California)!

State

Annual Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $63,090 $48,820

$82,760

Alaska

$102,260 $80,950 $127,280
Arizona $82,330 $66,040

$105,520

Arkansas

$64,130 $37,630 $83,700
California $132,660 $84,700

$177,670

Colorado

$82,430 $66,130 $107,260
Connecticut $95,210 $71,050

$119,600

Delaware

$82,230 $64,100 $101,110
District of Columbia $98,970 $66,260

$135,260

Florida

$77,710 $61,190 $100,060
Georgia $79,440 $60,400

$118,270

Hawaii

$120,100 $120,100 $137,710

Idaho

$77,940 $61,530

$100,440

Illinois $78,980 $62,180

$102,080

Indiana

$73,290 $55,200 $95,600
Iowa $65,000 $56,330

$83,360

Kansas

$66,460 $52,010 $93,120
Kentucky $75,800 $56,120

$98,540

Louisiana

$73,180 $57,500 $95,540
Maine $77,340 $61,170

$100,910

Maryland

$83,850 $64,680 $106,910
Massachusetts $98,520 $67,480

$154,160

Michigan

$79,180 $64,270 $100,920
Minnesota $84,060 $65,500

$107,960

Mississippi

$63,330 $49,980 $84,030
Missouri $71,460 $51,440

$94,340

Montana

$76,550 $62,930 $98,970
Nebraska $74,990 $58,900

$93,230

Nevada

$94,930 $74,200 $130,200
New Hampshire $80,550 $62,790

$104,270

New Jersey

$98,090 $76,650 $118,150
New Mexico $81,990 $64,510

$106,300

New York

$100,370 $64,840 $132,950
North Carolina $76,430 $59,580

$100,430

North Dakota

$69,640 $60,780 $91,150
Ohio $76,810 $61,860

$98,380

Oklahoma

$74,520 $53,560 $97,520
Oregon $106,680 $81,470

$131,210

Pennsylvania

$78,740 $61,450 $101,450
Rhode Island $85,960 $65,260

$104,790

South Carolina

$75,610 $52,620 $93,190
South Dakota $62,920 $51,240

$80,860

Tennessee

$65,800 $51,270 $95,490
Texas $79,830 $61,950

$105,270

Utah

$77,240 $61,850 $98,000
Vermont $77,230 $60,900

$101,570

Virginia

$79,700 $61,970 $104,410
Washington $101,230 $77,460

$131,230

West Virginia

$74,160 $47,640 $96,470
Wisconsin $79,750 $65,110

$100,820

Wyoming

$77,730 $60,910

$102,010

*source: U.S. National Data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022[8]

Overall, the annual median salary of travel nurses (RN) is $81,220. Breaking the numbers down in terms of percentiles, we get:

  • 10th Percentile: $61,250
  • 25th Percentile: $66,680
  • 75th Percentile: $101,100
  • 90th Percentile: $129,400

Highest Paying US States for Travel Nurses

The highest paying US state for travel nurses is California – offering a median salary of $132,600. According to a Nomad Health report[9], California also has the highest demand for travel nurses, with medical-surgical nursing being the specialty in highest demand.

Below is the list of the top 10 states with the highest median salary for travel nurses in the US.

#

State

Annual Median Salary

1

California $132,660
2 Hawaii

$120,100

3

Oregon $106,680
4 Alaska

$102,260

5

Washington $101,230
6 New York

$100,370

7

District of Columbia $98,970
8 Massachusetts

$98,520

9

New Jersey $98,090
10 Connecticut

$95,210

To see which high-paying travel nurse position is open closes to you, join our community to stay updated.

Highest Paying US Cities for Travel Nurses

If you wish to be more specific about the location that pays the highest salary to the travel nurses, you can look at it on the city level. Then, again, 3 out of the top 5 cities come out to be from California; the top one being Sacramento with an average base salary offer of $151,894/year.

#

City

Annual Average Base Salary

1

Sacremento, CA $151,894
2 Minneapolis, MN

$135,185

3

Los Angeles, CA $130,068
4 Torrance, CA

$123,199

5

Portland, OR

$115,993

*source indeed.com[1]

Lowest Paying US States for Travel Nurses

When looking to find the best-paying travel nurse role, you may not land the narrow top spot, but it’s important not to land on the other extreme of things either.

Per the BLS data, South Dakota – at a median annual salary of $62,920 – evidently pays the least to travel nurses. Other lowest-paying US states for travel nurses that you must think through before deciding on are listed below.

# State Median Annual Salary

1

South Dakota $62,920
2 Alabama

$63,090

3

Mississippi $63,330
4 Arkansas

$64,130

5

Iowa $65,000
6 Tennessee

$65,800

7

Kansas $66,460
8 North Dakota

$69,640

9

Missouri $71,460
10 Louisiana

$73,180

While staring at salary figures for different states as a travel nurse you may be inclined towards moving to the highest-paying US states, but, remember: it’s not all about the top dollar. The cost of living, convenience of lifestyle, and other personal factors should also be considered to make your final choice.

Yet, worth stating here that per Indeed[1], 80% of travel nurses in the United States consider that their salaries are good enough to meet their living costs in their region.

Popular Employers for Travel Nurses and Their Offered Salaries

As mentioned earlier, travel nurses are generally employed by travel nurse agencies or nursing staffing agencies; and not directly by healthcare organizations.

Below are some of the top-paying agencies that you can look up to find your dream travel nurse job.

Nurse Staffing Agency

Average Weekly Salary

Max Weekly Salary

Kahu Malama Nurses

$7,710 $8,000
Catapult Healthcare $4,633

$4,633

RKA Recruiting

$4,300 $4,300
Saratoga Medical Staffing $4,238

$4,238

VitalSolution

$4,200 $4,500
Headwaters Healthcare $3,981

$4,077

eTeam Inc

$3,910 $4,501
SojouRN $3,756

$4,397

Nightingale’s List

$3,400 $3,400
CT Assist $3,325

$3,325

*Source: Vivian Health[10]

You can also join our community of nursing professionals to keep in the loop of the latest and most promising travel nurse roles.

Salary of International Travel Nurses

Some travel nurses in the US are increasingly exploring the idea of international nursing opportunities. These assignments typically last a year, with prerequisites like language proficiency and obtaining visas.

Listed below is the top 10 spots for international travel nurses by their average salary offered.

Country

Average Annual Salary

Switzerland

$99,839.48 (USD)

Luxembourg

$94,923.53 (USD)

Denmark

$83,888.84 (USD)

Virgin Islands

$80,916 (USD)
Australia

$71,566.52 (USD)

Dubai

$71,383.88 (USD)
Canada

$70,482.40 (USD)

Norway

$69,754.12 (USD)
Ireland

$60,890.13 (USD)

Italy

$53,035.58 (USD)

*Source: nurse.org [11]

While pay is generally lower overseas, some European countries offer higher rates, and regions like the Middle East have lower living costs. So, if interested to travel as a nurse outside the US economically, you are recommended to country with the right balance of salary, living cost, and lifestyle.

Travel Nurse Salary v/s Staff Nurse Salaries

In general, the median salary of a travel nurse is higher than a permanent staff nurse’s salary. However, since a lot of factors go into deciding a nurse’s salary, it’s difficult to do a conclusive comparison of their salaries.

Still, the table below gives us an idea about the average salary comparison for some of the most common staff nurse salaries against a travel nurse (RN) salary.

Nurse Type

Hourly Weekly Monthly

Annual

Certified Nursing Assistant

$15.41 $620 $2,670 $32,050
Licensed Practical Nurse $24.08 $960 $4,170

$50,090

Travel Nurse (RN)

$49.12 $2,097 $8,114 $114,602
Certified Nurse Midwife $55.55 $2,220 $9,630

$115,540

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

$90.96 $3,640 $15,770

$189,190

Source: Nurseprocess.Org [12]

Travel Nurse Salaries Impacted by Various Factors

Location-based differences in pay rates

Arguably the most critical salary factor for travel nurses, pay differs wildly basis location. Even if we look at the highest-paying cities, the gap in annual average salary is a handful: from Sacramento, CA: $137,200 to New Orleans, LA: $112,818[1].

Plus, the location also dictates the government-set rules for stipends, overtime, and bonuses, too.

Demand-based differences in pay rates

Demand is directly proportional to the travel nurse’s salary. As evident from the fact that the annual median salary of the three states with the highest demand rate[13] for travel nurses, fluctuates almost proportionally to it.

State

Annual Median Salary

Increasing Demand
Rate for Travel Nurses

California

$132,660 9%

New York

$100,370

6%

Texas $79,830

5%

Specialization-based differences in pay rates

A travel nurse – just like an RN – can have any of the various specializations; and, their salary would depend upon it.

Some of the most-paying travel nurse specialties include the following:

#

Travel Nurse Specialization

Average Annual Salary

1

Labor and Delivery $72,170*
2 Emergency Room

$76,260*

3

Medical-Surgical/Telemetry $65,300*
4 Critical Care – Intensive Care Unit

$76,050*

5

Operating Room Registered Nurse

$81,050*

*Source: NurseJournal.org[14]

It’s noteworthy that the job outlook for each of these travel nurse specializations increases by 6% from 2022-2032.

Experience-based differences in pay rates

The year of work experience cause an interestingly notable trend on the travel nurse’s salary. With the increase in the number of years of experience, the salary increases first, and then after a point, it decreases. Plausible as an indication of the demand for decently-experienced professionals.

Years of Experience
as Travel Nurse

Average Annual Salary

4 – 8

$61,000
8 – 12

$62,300

12 – 16

$67,800
16 – 20

$66,000

Education-based differences in pay rates

Unlike other factors that directly impact the travel nurse job prospect, the education level has a fluctuating effect.

Education-level for
Travel Nurses

Percentage of
Job Openings

High-school Diploma or GED

16%
Bachelor’s Degree

41%

Associate’s Degree

33%
Master’s Degree

10%

However, it is not to be misunderstood as the reflection of salary decline. The salary does go up as per your level of education for the travel nurse.

Travel Nurse Salary Trajectory in 2024 in US

According to Staffing Industry Analysts[12], COVID-19 had bumped up the demand for travel nurses by around 5x. Which also meant a candidate-driven market for the travel nurse salary.

However, demand for travel nurses is seeing a decline due to stabilized COVID-19 hospitalization rates and depleted relief funding. Yet despite a 30% contraction in the travel nursing market in 2022 and an estimated 5% shrinkage in 2024, projections indicate a 6% growth in RN employment by 2031 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[7].

So, qualified and dedicated nurses willing to travel can still find rewarding opportunities because of the nationwide enduring need for travel nurses.

Read More: 2024 Salary Guide for US Nurse Practitioners

How to Make the Most as a Travel Nurse in the US

Earn a higher certificate or license

Pursue degrees like a master’s or doctorate in nursing, or specialty certifications such as in HIV/AIDS care or hospice nursing to enhance competitiveness.

Look out for higher-paying shifts

Most healthcare facilities need RNs to care for patients around the clock, and they pay more for uncommon shifts including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Shift to higher-paying region

Strategically go for job opportunities in higher-paying regions, where the trade-off of cost of living considerations and in-hand travel nurse salary offers a lucrative deal.

In addition to these, travel nurses are also known to explore tutoring roles for nursing students and volunteer for nursing gigs at community events to supplement their salaries.

Endnote

Like everything – salary, career growth, and the day-to-day grind – of a travel nurse has its unique attractiveness and challenges.

On one side you get the flexibility and freedom to explore various professional aspects, and on another, you get to make around 16% more than a staff nurse doing similar duty. One has to be mindful of the compromise involved in moving to a high-paying travel nurse state and the associated cost of living. Also, the fact that the market is stabilizing itself since the receding pandemic era, can mean lesser leverage of salary bargains to travel nurses. However, the typical perks that can come with the travel nurses salary package like housing, travel, and MI&E stipend keep the job in demand. Not to forget you can conveniently increase your earning potential by micro-certificates, upskilling, and even getting creative with using nursing skills for side hustle.

Overall, the job of a travel nurse remains as rewarding as it is lucrative.

Read More: Career as a Nurse in US in 2024

Join Our Community and Boost Your Earnings: Exclusive Travel Nurse Jobs Near You With Great Pay!

FAQs

Are travel nurses required to pay for their own travel?

Typically, travel nurses will receive a stipend or reimbursement for travel costs.

Do travel nurses get free housing?

The salary of a travel nurse often includes free or subsidized housing.

Can travel nurses make 200k a year?

Although uncommon, but, yes! Some travel nurses, especially those in high-demand specialties and locations, can make over $200,000 annually.

Can travel nurses make 7 figures?

It is highly unlikely for travel nurses to make 7 figures (over $1 million) annually. However, the salary of a travel nurse is good enough to lead a comfortable life.

What is the demand of travel nurses in US?

The demand for travel nurses in US has been declining after the COVID-19 era however, is still projected at a decent rate of 6% by 2031.

Why is travel nurse salary so high?

Travel nurse salaries are often higher due to the need to fill staffing gaps in areas with nursing shortages and the flexibility required for travel assignments.

What hours do travel nurses work?

Travel nurses typically work full-time hours, which can vary depending on the facility and assignment.

Can travel nurses choose where to work?

Yes, travel nurses can often choose their preferred locations to work based on the available assignments and their preferences.

References

[1] https://www.indeed.com/career/travel-nurse/salaries

[2] https://www.leaderstat.com/knowledge-base/travel-nursing-in-2024-what-to-expect

[3] https://www.nursingprocess.org/travel-nurse-salary/

[4] https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-The-Average-Travel-Nurse-Salary-by-State

[5] https://www.zippia.com/traveling-nurse-jobs/trends/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_nursing

[7] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm

[8] https://www.statista.com/statistics/216259/monthly-real-average-hourly-earnings-for-all-employees-in-the-us/

[9] https://nomadhealth.com/faqs/healthcare-industry-news/nomad-health-q4-jobs-report

[10] https://www.vivian.com/nursing/travel/salary/

[11] https://nurse.org/articles/highest-paying-countries-for-nurses/

[12] https://stabilityhealthcare.com/what-the-travel-nursing-market-will-look-like-in-2024

[13] https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/nursing/states-specialties-with-highest-demand-for-travel-nurses.html

[14] https://nursejournal.org/careers/travel-nurse/salary

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