Andrew Wettengel / Tuesday, October 13, 2020 / Categories: Finance and Business, Work World


Travel nursing can be a lucrative career. Many nurses have found that traveling allows them to earn more money, take more frequent vacations, and visit new cities or regions of the country. Whether you want to become a career-long traveling nurse or only want to stick to it for a few years, there is a lot of money to be made. 

At OneStaff Medical, our staffers always want to ensure you have all of the information you need to have a positive travel nursing experience. 

How Much Does Travel Nursing Pay?

The compensation structure for travel nurses is different than other nursing positions. While nurses are usually paid salaries, a travel nurse's pay will vary by the assignment contract. Some travel nurse specialties have the potential to earn in excess of $3,000 per week or $50 per hour. 

There are a lot of factors that affect how much a travel nursing assignment will pay, but the three things that will influence compensation the most are:

  • Location: Pay will vary depending on the city or state your travel nurse assignment is located. Your pay will reflect the cost of living in the area; therefore, states like California, New York, and Washington pay the most because living costs are higher. 
  • Specialty: Nurses who specialize in a particular area of medicine may earn higher pay if their specialty is in high demand. Certain specialties, such as neonatal intensive care and intensive care, always pay well. Specialties around cardiovascular, typically are the highest paying. So if a high salary is something you are after, be sure to look into the highest paying specialties early on in your career. 

OneStaff Medical's Tips for Making the Most Money 

Now that you know what affects a travel nurse's pay, there are ways to earn extra money. The following are our tips for making the most money on your next travel nursing assignment.

1.     Have a Specialty 

Most travel nurses specialize in a particular area of medicine. These specialties make it easier to narrow down assignments that you are interested in and qualified for.

Many travel nurses have a specialty, and it is often easier to place them in an assignment. Having a specialty will also allow you to earn more money. Don't just consider the highest paying specialties (Cardiovascular as mentioned above), also keep in mind those that have the most continual demand. Those include operating room, labor & delivery, intensive care unit and neonatal intensive care nurses. If the speciality has plenty of ongoing demand, it will always pay well AND you have more likeliehood of finding an assignment anywhere you'd want to go (AKA great pay and plenty of location options). That equates to job satisfaction for sure!

2.     Ask About Potential Bonus Opportunities

You'll also want to find out if there are any opportunities to earn bonuses. Many travel nursing assignments and nursing staffing agencies will offer you the chance to earn bonuses. 

The easiest way to earn more money as a traveling nurse is through referral bonuses. If you have friends who are fellow nurses interested in travel nursing, you can earn a bonus by connecting them with your staffing agency. What better way to travel, than with friends, while getting bonused for referring them! Win-win. 

For nurses who work with our team at OneStaff Medical, click here to refer a friend.

3.     Find Your Own Housing

When taking a travel nursing assignment, you will typically have two options for finding a place to stay. You can take the non-taxed stipend and find your own housing (or stay with friends/ family and not pay any lodging costs at all, and save that stipend). Or, you can leverage the agency’s Housing Department, if they have one, using that very same stipend and see how they can help you save some of it… 

Money-savvy traveling nurses often choose housing that is less than their stipend. This allows you to keep what money is leftover. While this might be a small sum, it can quickly add up after several assignments. 

Our Housing Department’s end goal is to help find the best housing for you, within your budget. Our value is that we have negotiated discounts with most major chain hotels and extended stays. We will also help do the research to find that “diamond in the ruff” to suit your needs, or may already have that little gem in our database from past housing needs. Put it this way, we do this daily, so we know what exists out there and have a database full of options. To learn more about Housing, and how to best leverage the given stipend, check out this article

4.     Stay Somewhere Near the Hospital

Another way to make your money last longer is to save money on transportation expenses. Find housing near the healthcare facility you'll be working at to save money on gas, bus, or train expenses. You can then save or spend other places, making the most of what you earn. You may even be able to find temporary housing close enough to walk to work. While this doesn't mean you'll earn more money, you'll be able to make your money go further. 

5.     Pick Up Extra Shifts

Some assignments will allow you to pick up extra shifts, which is a great way to earn extra dough. While it may be hard to find the extra time in your busy schedule, earning overtime wages can significantly increase how much you make during each assignment. 

Be sure to communicate your desire to pick up extra shifts with the person in charge of scheduling at your temporary facility.

6.     Have Multi-State Licenses 

Licensing is an important topic when it comes to travel nursing. You need to ensure you have the proper nursing license to practice in any state you take an assignment. If you have a multi-state license, you can easily take temporary nursing assignments in the 34 participating states. This opportunity allows you to broaden your pool of potential assignments and take high-paying roles in desirable locations. 

In some cases, states will waive licensure requirements for nurses who come from across the country to help after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.

Read our blog "Travel Nurses' Guide to Multi-State Licensing" to learn more about how to get the licensure you need to be a traveling nurse. 

7.     Be Flexible 

Flexibility is key to ensuring you earn as much money possible as a travel nurse. Being flexible will allow you to make more money in several ways. Be open to assignments in all parts of the country. This way, your recruiter can send you assignments in cities where the cost of living is higher, and the pay reflects that. 

When you are flexible, you'll be willing to take night or weekend shifts. You'll also be more willing to jump to take rapid response assignments because of your openmindedness. These roles pay more because fewer people are up to the challenge.

We understand that many nurses cannot be as flexible because they travel with a partner or children. However, if you can be as flexible as possible, you'll surely be rewarded financially. 

Ready to start your travel nursing adventure? Our recruiters at One Staff Medical would love to help you get jump-started. Call 877-783-1483 to talk with one of our recruiting specialists today. 

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