A Travel Nurse job is an excellent job alternative for registered nurses interested in changing their careers or exploring a position for using their in-demand skills. This guide covers all you need to know about Travel Nurse salaries, including how much Travel Nurses make in the USA in all states.
A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at data.bls.gov and other salary data sources such as Salary.com, Indeed.com and Zippia.com. We believe that this is the best average to follow, rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. All data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.
Travel Nurse Salaries in the United States
Working as a Travel Nurse is becoming a popular alternative for registered nurses searching for positions that help them maximize their earnings, offer flexibility, or regularly allow for a change of scenery.
Though Travel Nurse salaries vary regionally across the United States, the position is typically a well-paid alternative for registered nurses.
How Much Does a Travel Nurse Make a Year?
The national average Travel Nurse salary is $87,958.51 a year. Travel nursing has the potential to allow registered nurses to earn a higher-than-average salary.
How Much Does a Travel Nurse Make an Hour?
A Travel Nurse makes an average of $42.29 an hour. If a travel nurse works 20 hours a week, this means that this average wage of $42.29 will yield earnings of $43,981.60 for a position with part-time hours.
What Other Components Comprise a Travel Nurse’s Compensation?
In addition to receiving a higher-than-average hourly wage, Travel Nurses also receive bonuses, stipends, and expense reimbursements that increase their overall compensation. If a Travel Nurse can use an amount that’s lower than the figure they receive for expenses, this is another way to increase their compensation.
For example, it’s common for Travel Nurses to receive a stipend for housing. Choosing housing that costs less than the amount of the stipend allows you to use the stipend for other purposes.
When comparing compensation packages, it’s essential to look at all components, not just the hourly wage.
Travel Nurse Salary by State
There is a range of median Travel Nurse salaries that varies from state to state. See this graphic (created from information from Zippia) for the median hourly wage and median annual wage for each state.
Hourly median wage
Annual median wage
Compared To National Average
District of Columbia
Some states pay more when compared to the national average. For example, Connecticut pays 26 percent more than the national average, while the District of Columbia pays 23 percent more. Hawaii pays 31 percent more than the national average, but this state also has a high cost of living.
Some states have a median wage that’s significantly less than the median hourly wage for Travel Nurses. Both Utah and Alaska pay approximately 19 percent less than the average wage for travel nurses.
Sometimes, states have lower wages due to lower demand, but lower wages can also be associated with areas that have a lower cost of living. When determining if a wage or compensation package is acceptable, consider the cost of living in a specific area.
Factors That Affect How Much a Travel Nurse Makes
There are a few factors that influence Travel Nurse salaries in the United States, including the following:
The specific type of care provider by the nurse (more specialized care that calls for particular skills usually commands a higher salary)
How many years of nursing experience you have (Travel Nurses with more experience earn higher wages)
The area (states and cities with a high cost of living tend to pay Travel Nurses higher salaries, while regions looking to attract more nurses may also pay wages that are higher than average)
Bonuses (many companies pay Travel Nurses bonuses for covering specific shifts or for working all their scheduled hours)
The agency’s pay structure (the agency that supplies that facility with a Travel Nurse receives a percentage for placing them)
You can increase your compensation as a Travel Nurse by being willing to cover certain types of work and specific shifts.
Advancing your education, skills, and work experience will allow you to command a higher salary.
How Quickly Can You Become a Travel Nurse and Start Earning?
Since a Travel Nurse is a position for registered nurses, you’ll need to complete a program to become a registered nurse to begin working as a Travel Nurse.
It usually takes four years to complete a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree program or an associate’s degree in nursing (AND). A diploma program takes two to three years to complete, but these aren’t as widely available as bachelor's and associate degree programs.
CNAs or LPNs usually have some of the coursework required to become an RN completed, or the program may allow them to test out of courses that teach skills they’ve already mastered. Many CNAs or LPNs can become Travel Nurses within 18-24 months.
A Look at How Much a Travel Nurse Makes Compared to Other Nursing Jobs
When compared to other nursing jobs, a Travel Nurse can make a competitive wage compared to other nursing jobs.
Using California, one of the states with the highest average salaries for nursing positions, a nurse practitioner has an annual median wage of $151,830.
In contrast, a registered nurse has a median yearly salary of $125,340.
A CRNA nurse anesthetist (a position that requires more training and education) has an annual median salary of $232,540. An LPN makes a median of $61,600 a year, while a CNA earns a median wage of $37,450 each year. Labor and delivery nurses earn a median salary of $85,300 a year.
Travel Nurse Salary FAQs
It’s normal to have questions about the salary of Travel Nurses or how much nurses make in general. Check out these FAQs about Travel Nurse salaries.
What is the Difference Between a Travel Nurse and a Registered Nurse?
A Travel Nurse is a job option for a registered nurse. Travel Nurses complete many of the same duties as registered nurses. Most nurses who work as travel nurses are registered nurses who are searching for better job alternatives to utilize their nursing skills.
Registered nurses are increasingly experiencing burnout related to stressful work environments and unrealistic expectations. Hospitals have understandably high expectations for their nurses but aren’t always willing to give nurses the compensation they deserve.
Working as a Travel Nurse is a way for registered nurses to continue doing a job they’ve mastered while receiving better compensation and periodically changing their work environment to reduce boredom and work dissatisfaction.
Am I Being Paid Fairly as a Travel Nurse?
A fair rate for a Travel Nurse is subjective and depends on the specific type of work. To determine if your pay rate is appropriate, examine your state’s median rate, while also keeping in mind your job duties and experience.
You should also examine the other elements included in your compensation package, like any bonuses or stipends. Your stipend can quickly increase your overall compensation, especially if it's for an amount that’s more than your daily expenses. Bonuses are also a fantastic way to boost your overall earnings.
If you’re not happy with your pay as a Travel Nurse, you can negotiate your contract or refuse contracts that you don’t feel are fair. Or, you may explore working for a different agency that better values your skills.
Are Travel Nurses Typically Paid Hourly or Annually?
Travel Nurses are customarily paid hourly for their work rather than an annual salary. This pay structure means that Travel Nurses are compensated for the extra hours that they work. So, if you work more hours one week, your paycheck will reflect the additional work.
One thing to consider is that the compensation for a Travel Nurse usually includes an hourly wage, travel reimbursement, and a stipend. Some portions of your payment may not fluctuate as your hours change, but the hourly rate is directly dependent on the number of hours you work.
For example, the stipend you receive for housing won’t increase because you worked more hours one week. However, it also won’t decrease if you have a couple of weeks where you work fewer hours.
Do Travel Nurses Get Paid Overtime?
A Travel Nurse will typically get paid overtime pay. What’s considered overtime pay depends on your contract; for some agencies, hours that exceed 40 hours a week are eligible for overtime pay, but other entities may consider hours that exceed 36 hours a week as overtime hours.
Make sure to review the terms of your contract to understand what your agency designates as overtime pay. Your agreement will also tell you what kind of pay you’ll receive if you work on holidays. Most Travel Nurses receive overtime pay for working holidays, even if it’s not over 40 or 36 hours.
Do Travel Nurses Get Paid More Privately or in Hospitals?
Usually, Travel Nurses can make a higher wage when working privately than working directly for a hospital. There are a couple of reasons for this wage disparity.
Hospitals have been slow to adjust nurse wages to the level required to attract and retain skilled nurses. While nurses are essential for supplying high-quality patient care, too many hospitals have tried to lower their expenses by offering lower salaries while increasing the patient load for onsite nurses.
Not only can Travel Nurses potentially get paid more when working for a private entity, but they also tend to experience less stressful working conditions that lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. Private entities know that well-qualified travel nurses are valuable and are willing to pay higher rates to attract nurses that they can place.
What State Pays Travel Nurses the Most Per Hour?
The average hourly Travel Nurse wage varies from state to state. Hawaii has the highest median hourly pay for Travel Nurses, with an hourly median salary of $55.55.
Other states with high hourly rates for Travel Nurses include Connecticut ($53.28 an hour), the District of Columbia ($52.07 an hour), New York ($52.51 an hour), and Massachusetts ($47.59 an hour).
Can You Live Off a Travel Nurse’s Salary in the USA?
Data suggests that the median wage required to have a comfortable life in the United States is approximately $67,690. Even in states with a high cost of living, like California, New York, and Hawaii, a Travel Nurse’s salary is enough for you to create and maintain a pleasant lifestyle.
Travel Nurses have the potential to earn over $3,000 a week or well over $100k a year, allowing for a stellar lifestyle anywhere in the nation.
What’s the Highest-Paid Travel Nurse Position?
A telemetry Travel Nurse is one of the highest-paid Travel Nurse positions, earning approximately $130,870 a year.
This annual salary equals an hourly wage of about $62.92 or $2,517 a week.
Telemetry Travel Nurses review data from specialized equipment and monitor patients with severe medical conditions.