Money can be a primary driver for those who consider entering the travel nursing field. Others are driven by the adventure of living in new places. Your salary is likely one of the most misunderstood areas of travel nursing. The jobs and salaries vary widely from city to city, especially when you include free housing, daily allowances and reimbursements.
How much you’re paid will depend on the region you work in, your specialty and the type of assignment you take. For instance, if you pick up a rapid response/critical staffing job, this may pay more. Your ability to be flexible regarding available assignments, both before you travel and when you get to your destination, will also impact how much money you can make while you’re gone. While some places pay a lower salary, they also have a lower cost of living, so you may be able to save more money while you’re traveling by taking a lower paying position.
As you consider your next assignment, remember to weigh your salary against the local cost-of-living expenses and any additional perks the hospital may offer. It’s also important to dispel the myth that if the pay is very high, it must be a horrible place to work. Pay is usually the result of a balance between supply and demand, cost-of-living and a few other factors.
Working off shifts, holidays and weekend jobs will offer additional differential pay, so be aware of this when considering your next assignment. Your salary is set by your contract for each assignment, but there are several ways to earn more than your hourly rate. For instance, some positions offer sign-on bonuses, additional salary if you work specific shifts and overtime pay. How much you can make will be a balance between your taxable salary and non-taxable reimbursements as well.
Before accepting a job based solely on how much money you’ll make, it’s important to consider these factors since an assignment that pays the most may leave you with less money in savings than one that pays less. For instance, in one state you may make a higher base pay, but your housing stipend will be less, while in another area your base pay maybe less but your housing stipend maybe higher depending on the facility and the area where you’re living.
As you consider these top paying states for travel nurses, keep the factors in mind that will affect your take home pay and ability to put away a few dollars in savings.
California — The state with the best compensation is California, where the average on-staff nurse is paid $102,700 each year. Additionally, as discussed, California also has a cost of living that is higher than most, which reduces your buying power and the amount you may be able to save from your assignment.
New York — You may have a bit more wiggle room in NY. The average salary for an RN is $83,050, but the cost of living in Manhattan is among the highest in the U.S. However, the surrounding boroughs are as interesting to live and work in, and the state is close to several natural wonders, including the Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls.
Alaska — Don’t discount this northern state as the average salary is $87,510 for an RN, the demand for skilled professionals is high and the weather is not nearly as problematic as you may think. The cost of living can be high since most food products must be shipped in, but the natural beauty of the area and friendliness of the people may make your stay your most memorable assignment.
Nevada — The average RN salary is $84,980, where you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and two of the biggest tourist attractions: Las Vegas and Reno.
Wisconsin — Although salaries are slightly lower (average $69,200), the state also boasts a lower cost of living, beautiful lakes, fishing and crafts.
Texas — The median RN salary is $72,000 with lower-than-average cost of living, raising the buying power of your salary. If you love warm weather and want to build your resume working in a strong medical community, this may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to see the country and be well compensated to do it. At Amare Medical Staffing, we are committed to helping you find the assignment to best meet your needs and your pay requirements.