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2020 Travel Nurse Salary + Job Outlook


Travel nurses work in specific locations for limited and usually predetermined timeframes of anywhere from 13 to 16 weeks. Though they may work in any type of facility – hospitals, doctors’ offices, and long-term care facilities – they get to choose where they work, which helps prevent boredom. Travel nurses also earn handsome salaries that rival the average salaries of BSN-educated registered nurses (RNs). Here, you will learn more about the average travel nurse salary and what you can expect if you choose this exciting career path.

How Much Does a Travel Nurse Make?


Hourly: The average hourly rate for a travel nurse is $36.72. However, recently-licensed travel nurses tend to earn a much lower starting salary of $26.23 while their more experienced counterparts earn an average of $45.36. Some of this may include overtime hours, though the availability and demand for overtime will vary from one assignment to the next.

Monthly: The monthly salary for travel nurses averages out to $6,370 and may vary depending on hours worked or bonuses.

Annual: The average annual salary for travel nurses also varies significantly. On average, they earn $76,380 with a starting salary of $54,550, rising to $94,340 as more experience is gained. Once again, overtime and bonuses may come into play, but aside from experience, the overall nature of the assignment is the biggest factor in the salary difference. Travel nurses who work long overnight shifts in trauma centers often earn more than those who work shorter daytime shifts in doctors’ offices, for example.

Type Salary
Starting Experienced Average
Hourly $26.23 $45.36 $36.72
Monthly $4,550 $7,860 $6,370
Annual $54,550 $94,340 $76,380
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Salary for Different Types of Travel Nurses


Not all travel nurses perform the same duties and as such the salary will differ. For instance, a travel nurse practitioner is the highest paid with an average annual salary of $107,540 per year, while an LPN travel nurse may earn less than half that with an average salary of $47,980 per year.

Type Hourly Wage Monthly Salary Annual Salary
Critical Care Travel Nurse $36.75 $6,370 $76,430
ER Travel Nurse $35.66 $6,180 $74,180
Home Health Travel Nurse $33.57 $5,820 $69,820
Hospice Travel Nurse $35.83 $6,210 $74,530
ICU Travel Nurse $34.96 $6,060 $72,710
Labor and Delivery Travel Nurse $33.19 $5,750 $69,040
LPN/LVN Travel Nurse $23.07 $4,000 $47,980
OR Travel Nurse $38.01 $6,590 $79,060
Pediatric Travel Nurse $32.53 $5,640 $67,670
Psychiatric Travel Nurse $33.60 $5,820 $69,880
RN Travel Nurse $36.72 $6,370 $76,380
Travel Nurse Practitioner $51.70 $8,960 $107,540
Travel Nurse Recruiter $26.88 $4,660 $55,920
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


What other Benefits will You Receive as a Travel Nurse?


Aside from the salaries mentioned above, travel nurses may receive a package including several other benefits that provide additional value.

Insurance Coverage: Insurance coverage usually includes health, vision, and dental, though travel nurses often pay a part of their premiums directly from their pre-tax pay.

Retirement (401K) Options: 401(k) is by and large one of the most preferred retirement benefits in the US, and it is often available to travel nurses with a relatively high employer match.

Tax-Free Travel Reimbursement: Because travel nurses are expected to travel to different parts of the state, the country, and in a few cases even the world, employers will often reimburse them or even provide a stipend for their travel costs.

Sign-On, Completion and Retention Bonuses: Due to the demand for flexible travel nurses, many companies will provide bonuses. A sign-on bonus is provided when you agree to an assignment, a completion bonus is provided when the assignment is over, and a retention bonus may be provided to entice you to continue to take assignments through a particular company.

Free Housing: Many travel-nurses are provided with free housing. This may include only housing during long-term assignments, but in some cases, it may also include an apartment in the city of your primary residence.

Free CEUs: Because travel nurses must be licensed in order to practice in all 50 states, their employers will provide them with access to free continuing education (CEUs) to help ensure they have met their licensure requirements.

How to Boost Your Travel Nurse Salary?


If you choose this career path, there are several ways for you to increase your average travel nurse pay substantially. Not all employers offer these options, however.

Work Per Diem and Pick Up Extra Shifts Travel nurses are often paid by the hour, but some employers may give you the option of daily (per diem) pay, which can be more profitable. You might also choose to pick up extra shifts on off days if you work per diem, or to work double shifts if you are paid hourly.

Maintain Nursing Licenses in Multiple States When you are licensed to work in more than one state, you have many more assignments available. This means you may be given the opportunity to choose assignments offering higher pay.

Become More Specialized Specialized travel nurses tend to earn more than their counterparts, especially if you choose to become a surgical nurse, a fill-in nurse manager, a researcher, or a trauma nurse. You might also choose to become a travel nurse practitioner.

Take up High Demand Assignments High-demand assignments are those that may require long hours or time spent with underserved communities. Because it is more difficult to find travel nurses to fill these assignments, many of them offer higher pay to make them more attractive.

Refer a Traveler Some travel nurse companies will offer you the opportunity to earn an additional bonus when you refer a nurse. You may receive part of the bonus when the nurse you refer signs on and the rest once his or her first assignment is complete.

10 Best States to Work for Travel Nurses + Salary


1. California: The average salary for a travel nurse in California is $106,650 – one of the highest travel nurse salaries in the country. Cities like Los Angeles and San Diego – two of the most populated cities in the state – pay travel nurses the most. Due to the nursing shortage in California, particularly in areas like trauma and home health, healthcare providers in this state regularly reach out to travel nurse organizations to fill in the gaps. California offers much to see and do during your off time, as well. You can visit Disneyland, check out the shops in Beverly Hills, and perhaps even take a tour of some of your favorite celebrities’ homes.

2. Texas: As a travel nurse in Texas, you will earn an average annual salary of $74,840. Though it is not as high as some of the other states on this list, Texas is still a great choice. Cities like Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Austin offer numerous opportunities to work in some of the country’s most well-known medical facilities, and there is plenty of experience to be gained. Texas has a climate that is almost always warm, though winters can be cold, and snow is not unheard of. If you’re interested in escaping the cold, wet spring or fall in the Northeast, Texas can provide some much-needed respite.

3. New York: You can find some of the best medical centers in the country in New York, including Mount Sinai Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center, and NYU Langone. Your assignments can vary significantly, ranging from a labor and delivery rotation to a full half-year in a world-class trauma center. In New York, you can expect an average annual salary of $86,660, which is well above the national average. When you aren’t at work, you can enjoy one of the state’s 22 national parks or visit NYC’s famed Central Park.

4. Florida: There’s much to see and do as a travel nurse in Florida. Though the average annual salary is lower than some of the other states on this list at just $67,390, the atmosphere and the incredible selection of assignments can make up for this. You can work not only in some of the state’s best hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville or the AdventHealth facility in Orlando, but you might also be able to work with up-and-coming plastic surgeons. During your downtime, be sure to check out Florida’s white sandy beaches and one of its dozens of amazing parks.

5. Pennsylvania: The Keystone State offers up an average annual salary of $72,510 and plenty of opportunities for unique assignments. Urban medical facilities in both Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are some of the state’s biggest employers of travel nurses, particularly in their private hospitals and nursing homes. Trauma centers and general surgery are phenomenal options, and when you aren’t busy taking care of patients, you can check out the beautiful Lake Erie and perhaps even visit the world-renowned Hershey Chocolate Company.

6. Ohio: Ohio offers you the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings in numerous renowned locations. The University of Cincinnati, for example, is always looking for nurses to help fill in the ranks, but Ohio is particularly in need of operating room nurses. If you have experience in surgery and you want to expand it, this is a phenomenal opportunity, and you can earn $68,020 each year on average doing it. Be sure to check out some of the 40,000 miles of river and some of the awe-inspiring art in Cleveland, too.

7. Illinois: Chicago is the biggest city in Illinois, so there’s a very good chance that if you’re on an assignment in Illinois, it’ll be the Windy City. Some of the most high-demand assignments will have you working inside a Neonatal ICU at the Provena-Covenant Medical Center in Urbana or even in a pediatric operating room in the heart of Chicago. You’ll earn an average annual salary of $74,860, too. While you’re visiting, be sure to visit some of the dozens of Amish settlements for a meal you won’t soon forget and stop by a farmer’s market for fresh produce to stock your temporary residence.

8. North Carolina: North Carolina offers up some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country whether you prefer the blue waters of the ocean or the green of the mountains. North Carolina is home to the esteemed Duke Medical Center, and while traveling nurse jobs here may be few and far between, other opportunities exist at locations like Wakemed in Raleigh, Scotland Memorial in Laurinburg, and Wayne Memorial in Goldsboro. You can earn an average annual salary of $64,970 during your assignments here.

9. Michigan: The average annual salary for traveling nurses in Michigan is $71,780, which is on the higher end of the median. Some of the biggest employers of travel nurses in the state include the University of Michigan Hospital, Beaumont Hospital at Royal Oak, and DMC University Harper Hospital, among others. Many of the available assignments are in surgical settings, but you can also find openings in labor and delivery, and cardiac hospitals, too. Lake Michigan provides some excellent respite when you can manage a day off.

10. Arizona: The dry desert air in Arizona is the perfect escape if you’re looking to get away from the cold for a winter assignment. You can earn an average of $78,000 a year, and you can choose from numerous exciting assignments including working as a trauma nurse in a prestigious hospital or one of several positions as an operating room nurse. Some of the biggest employers of travel nurses in Arizona include the Mayo Clinic in gorgeous Phoenix, and Banner University Medical Center in Tucson. Be sure to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world while you’re nearby – the amazing Grand Canyon.

Travel Nurse Salary by State – Highest to Lowest


The salary you will earn as a travel nurse will vary somewhat based on the state where you work. Certain states offer incredibly competitive salaries. As an example, a travel nurse salary in California on average is $106,650 per year. Other states offer mediocre salaries, such as Vermont ($72,240), and some offer relatively low salaries, like South Dakota ($59,200).

State Hourly Wage Annual Salary
Starting Experienced Average Starting Experienced Average

California

$36.62 $63.33 $51.27 $76,169 $131,728 $106,650

Hawaii

$34.58 $59.81 $48.42 $71,933 $124,403 $100,720

District of Columbia

$32.13 $55.57 $44.99 $66,834 $115,584 $93,580

Massachusetts

$31.85 $55.09 $44.60 $66,256 $114,584 $92,770

Oregon

$31.65 $54.74 $44.32 $65,841 $113,868 $92,190

Alaska

$31.20 $53.97 $43.69 $64,906 $112,250 $90,880

Nevada

$30.30 $52.40 $42.43 $63,027 $109,001 $88,250

New York

$29.76 $51.46 $41.66 $61,892 $107,037 $86,660

New Jersey

$29.24 $50.58 $40.95 $60,828 $105,197 $85,170

Connecticut

$28.60 $49.46 $40.04 $59,485 $102,875 $83,290

Washington

$28.46 $49.22 $39.85 $59,192 $102,368 $82,880

Minnesota

$27.65 $47.81 $38.71 $57,507 $99,453 $80,520

Rhode Island

$27.33 $47.27 $38.27 $56,850 $98,317 $79,600

Maryland

$26.83 $46.41 $37.57 $55,814 $96,526 $78,150

Arizona

$26.78 $46.32 $37.50 $55,707 $96,341 $78,000

Delaware

$26.10 $45.13 $36.54 $54,279 $93,871 $76,000

Colorado

$25.88 $44.75 $36.23 $53,822 $93,080 $75,360

Illinois

$25.70 $44.45 $35.99 $53,464 $92,463 $74,860

Texas

$25.70 $44.44 $35.98 $53,450 $92,438 $74,840

New Hampshire

$24.97 $43.19 $34.97 $51,943 $89,832 $72,730

New Mexico

$24.90 $43.07 $34.87 $51,800 $89,585 $72,530

Pennsylvania

$24.90 $43.06 $34.86 $51,786 $89,560 $72,510

Vermont

$24.80 $42.90 $34.73 $51,593 $89,227 $72,240

Wisconsin

$24.67 $42.67 $34.55 $51,322 $88,757 $71,860

Michigan

$24.65 $42.62 $34.51 $51,265 $88,658 $71,780

Virginia

$24.24 $41.93 $33.95 $50,429 $87,213 $70,610

Georgia

$23.80 $41.16 $33.33 $49,508 $85,620 $69,320

Montana

$23.63 $40.87 $33.09 $49,158 $85,015 $68,830

Maine

$23.50 $40.64 $32.90 $48,872 $84,521 $68,430

Ohio

$23.36 $40.39 $32.70 $48,579 $84,014 $68,020

Wyoming

$23.14 $40.02 $32.40 $48,137 $83,248 $67,400

Florida

$23.14 $40.02 $32.40 $48,129 $83,236 $67,390

Idaho

$23.01 $39.79 $32.21 $47,851 $82,754 $67,000

South Carolina

$22.69 $39.24 $31.77 $47,194 $81,618 $66,080

Louisiana

$22.67 $39.20 $31.74 $47,144 $81,532 $66,010

Missouri

$22.57 $39.04 $31.61 $46,951 $81,198 $65,740

North Dakota

$22.51 $38.94 $31.52 $46,830 $80,988 $65,570

Utah

$22.48 $38.88 $31.48 $46,765 $80,877 $65,480

North Carolina

$22.31 $38.58 $31.24 $46,401 $80,247 $64,970

Indiana

$22.27 $38.51 $31.18 $46,315 $80,099 $64,850

Nebraska

$22.18 $38.36 $31.06 $46,137 $79,790 $64,600

Oklahoma

$21.98 $38.01 $30.77 $45,715 $79,061 $64,010

Kentucky

$21.94 $37.94 $30.72 $45,637 $78,925 $63,900

West Virginia

$21.53 $37.23 $30.14 $44,780 $77,443 $62,700

Tennessee

$21.41 $37.03 $29.98 $44,537 $77,023 $62,360

Kansas

$21.37 $36.96 $29.93 $44,458 $76,887 $62,250

Arkansas

$20.97 $36.26 $29.36 $43,616 $75,430 $61,070

Virgin Islands

$20.96 $36.24 $29.34 $43,587 $75,381 $61,030

Iowa

$20.66 $35.72 $28.92 $42,966 $74,306 $60,160

Alabama

$20.64 $35.70 $28.90 $42,937 $74,257 $60,120

Mississippi

$20.57 $35.58 $28.81 $42,794 $74,010 $59,920

South Dakota

$20.33 $35.15 $28.46 $42,280 $73,120 $59,200

Puerto Rico

$12.35 $21.35 $17.29 $25,682 $44,416 $35,960
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Travel Nurse Salary by City


The city where you are assigned can also have an influence on your overall travel nursing salary. Some cities, like San Jose, pay an incredible average annual salary of over $134,000 a year.

City Hourly Wage Annual Salary
Starting Experienced Average Starting Experienced Average
New York $31.88 $55.13 $44.63 $66,306 $114,670 $92,840
Los Angeles $33.45 $57.84 $46.83 $69,569 $120,315 $97,410
Chicago $26.95 $46.60 $37.73 $56,050 $96,934 $78,480
Houston $28.19 $48.75 $39.47 $58,635 $101,405 $82,100
Phoenix $27.15 $46.95 $38.01 $56,471 $97,663 $79,070
Philadelphia $27.70 $47.90 $38.78 $57,607 $99,626 $80,660
San Antonio $24.26 $41.95 $33.96 $50,451 $87,250 $70,640
San Diego $33.78 $58.43 $47.30 $70,269 $121,525 $98,390
Dallas $26.62 $46.04 $37.28 $55,378 $95,773 $77,540
San Jose $46.05 $79.64 $64.48 $95,780 $165,645 $134,110
Austin $24.53 $42.42 $34.34 $51,015 $88,226 $71,430
Jacksonville $21.99 $38.03 $30.79 $45,744 $79,111 $64,050
San Francisco $44.56 $77.07 $62.39 $92,688 $160,296 $129,780
Columbus $23.92 $41.37 $33.49 $49,751 $86,040 $69,660
Fort Worth $26.62 $46.04 $37.28 $55,378 $95,773 $77,540
Indianapolis $23.78 $41.13 $33.30 $49,465 $85,546 $69,260
Charlotte $22.25 $38.47 $31.15 $46,273 $80,025 $64,790
Seattle $29.49 $51.00 $41.29 $61,342 $106,086 $85,890
Denver $26.39 $45.64 $36.95 $54,893 $94,933 $76,860
Washington $28.80 $49.80 $40.32 $59,899 $103,591 $83,870
Boston $32.87 $56.85 $46.02 $68,370 $118,240 $95,730
El Paso $24.65 $42.62 $34.51 $51,265 $88,658 $71,780
Detroit $25.54 $44.17 $35.76 $53,129 $91,882 $74,390
Nashville $22.22 $38.43 $31.11 $46,215 $79,926 $64,710
Memphis $23.38 $40.43 $32.73 $48,622 $84,088 $68,080
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


What are the 10 Best Travel Nursing Agencies to Work for in the United States?


Travel nursing agencies tend to specialize in this specific form of care, which means they not only help match you with the right assignments, but they also help find amenities and keep you comfortable when you travel. Below, you can learn more about 10 of the best agencies in the country.

Flexcare: Flexcare was named the one of the Best Places to Work by Sacramento Business Journal in both 2017 and 2018. It offers an outstanding online system complete with job notifications via its Virtual Recruiter. Just plug in your criteria and you’ll receive a notification as soon as something that suits it comes available, which means you’ll always have access to your ideal assignments.

Aya Healthcare: Aya Healthcare’s approach to travel nursing is an exciting one. They encourage you to choose your own adventure by selecting from their dozens of outstanding assignments, and they are one of few agencies out there offering jobs in all 50 states to help satisfy your inner explorer.

PPR Travel Nursing: PPR Travel Nursing got started in 1996 and has since offered traveling nurses countless opportunities to live their dreams through their careers and travel. PPR places a great deal of importance on matching travel nurses not only with the right destinations, but also with the right patients, allowing you to ensure your credentials are utilized to their fullest.

GHR Travel Nursing: GHR Travel Nursing focuses on helping you find assignments that meet your career goals and interests, so it’s ideal for travel nurses who may be new to the nursing career or industry. You get to customize your compensation package in a way that best suits your needs, and the company also provides 24/7 support, so there’s always someone a phone call away if there’s a problem.

Travel Nurse Across America: Travel Nurse Across America (TNAA) gives you a wide variety of benefits that other agencies may not. These include your own personal recruiter, housing experts, licensure fee coverage, pay guarantees with Low Census Protection, and even paid sick leave that you accrue over time starting with day one. Their clinical and quality assurance leadership will help you take your career to the next level.

Fastaff Travel Nurse Staffing Agency: Fastaff offers numerous jobs all across the country, but primarily in the Northeast. It offers flexibility in pay and compensation, the ability to search for jobs by state, and even the ability to search for jobs by your own unique specialization.

Fusion Medical Staffing: Fusion Medical Staffing boasts the “Go Anywhere” motto that seems to hold true in its job listings. You can not only choose your own destination, but you can even design your own work schedule to a degree. Just give the recruiters some information such as your preferred location, your work experience, preferred workplace, and even your hobbies, and they will match you with the perfect assignment.

Cirrus Medical Staffing: Cirrus Medical Staffing offers some of the best bonuses in the industry – including referral bonuses. They also provide day-one insurance, housing, travel reimbursement, and more to make your experience as stress-free as possible. The recruiters work hard to make sure you get the most compensation possible in the forms that work best for your needs.

Host Healthcare: Host Healthcare allows its nurses to choose their own unique destinations, and because they work with so many medical facilities, they promise to find jobs that meet your needs rather than their own. Host Healthcare makes it easy to get started; just fill in some information and wait for a recruiter to get back to you.

Nursesrx: Nursesrx also has travel nursing jobs in all 50 states, including in some of the highest-paying cities in the country like Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Boston, and more. Nursesrx promises to help build your resume as you explore a variety of different nursing opportunities from coast to coast.

What Does the Future Look Like for Travel Nursing Jobs?


Travel nursing is not as well-known as home health or standard nursing, but it is expected to grow a great deal in the future due to so many states’ problems with nursing shortages. Nurses are in especially high demand across the country, but because of the cost of going to the best nursing schools – or due to the length of time it takes to get a degree – there simply aren’t enough nurses to go around. Travel nursing allows LPNs, RNs, and even nurse practitioners to find the jobs they like best, travel the country, and see the sights – often with their families.

Travel nursing is an excellent way to entice people to choose the nursing career path, too. Very few professions allow someone to travel the country on their employers’ dimes and see everything there is to see. As more nurses discover the benefits associated with this style of nursing, which include not only the salary, but also the personal and career benefits, it is expected that travel nursing will continue to grow.