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Nursing, Travel Jobs

How to Get the Best Nursing Pay Rate 

Treyvon Kurr
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Whether you’re finally finished with nursing school, or you’ve been working in the same hospital your entire career, you’re probably ready for a change of pace. Travel nursing offers an exciting opportunity to pursue your passion while exploring a new place. 

Why Traveling Is Important 

Aside from a career standpoint, traveling is essential for the human soul. It provides enrichment and a chance to have new adventures firsthand instead of watching through your phone. Diving into the culture of a new place—whether it’s the next state over or across the country—will get you out of your comfort zone and make you a better person and nurse. You’ll gain a better appreciation for the world and people around you, helping you make deeper connections with your patients. 

Finding the Best Pay Rates as a Travel Nurse 

There are plenty of travel nursing jobs, but since you’re probably looking at numerous locations, it can be challenging to determine which will offer you the best pay for the position you’re looking for.  

As you begin, here are some things to consider helping you narrow down your search. 

Departmental Differences 

Your pay will differ based on the department you work in as a travel nurse. The top five positions for travel nurses include: 

  1. Travel Nurse Practitioner: $165,420 
  1. OR Travel Nurse: $121,610 
  1. RN Travel Nurse: $117,490 
  1. Hospice Travel Nurse: $114,640 
  1. ER Travel Nurse: $114,110 

Geographical Differences

The national average for travel nurses is currently at $99,202, but the state you live in will significantly impact how much you earn as a travel nurse. The five states with the highest mean annual pay for travel nurses are: 

  1. New York: $118,145 
  1. New Hampshire: $114,727 
  1. Wyoming: $105,304 
  1. West Virginia: $102,645 
  1. Massachusetts: $101,389 

See the entire state list here.  

Keep in mind that while some places pay more than others, the cost of living will affect how much you actually keep in your pocket. For example, New York offers the highest salary, but the cost of living is 35.2% over the national average. 

Shift Differences 

Even if you work with a travel nursing staffing agency, you have to keep in mind that the hospitals determine the shift requirements for nurses. Some hospitals will only have you work eight-hour shifts, while others may ask you to come in for a twelve-hour shift. Since most travel nurses work on an hourly basis, you need to know how many hours you’d be working in a week and how long those shifts will be.  

If you’re currently used to working five eight-hour shifts a week (40 hours total), switching to three twelve-hour shifts (36 hours total) would mean less money but more free time to explore your new city. However, if you’re completely drained after your twelve-hour stints, you may feel more tired than with extra eight-hour shifts.  

Traveling vs. Permanent Positions 

As a traveling nurse, you can pocket more money because you’re often entitled to the same benefits packages as nurses with permanent positions and typically get free housing for long-term assignments. Additionally, some employers will offer access to free continuing education so you can obtain additional licenses.  

Enlisting a Travel Nurse Staffing Agency 

As you pursue various travel nursing jobs, it may be beneficial to get help when exploring your options. Travel staffing agencies make it easy for nurses like you to take the leap into a new chapter of their careers by providing professional guidance.  

At MLee Healthcare, we’ll help you start your new adventure. Contact Us Today!

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