Can a Travel Nurse Career Make You Rich?
By Anita Wong, contributor
If you've heard that travel nursing can be a lucrative career option, you might be wondering exactly how wealthy it can make you. Here's a closer look at how the benefits of a travel nurse career add up.
Salary for travel nursing jobs
Registered nurses earn an annual average wage of $75,510, or $36.30 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Nurse salaries depend on experience, facility and location. For example, the BLS reports that an average hourly wage for a RN at a doctor's office is $32.59 compared to $38.09 at an outpatient facility. RNs in California receive an average of $51.42 per hour, and nurses in Indiana or South Carolina earn an average of $31.18 per hour.
Travel nurses typically receive about 15% more, partly because facilities pay a premium to ensure critical staffing gaps are filled. Find out what travel nursing jobs in your specialty are currently paying.
Other financial perks
In addition to your base pay, you may receive other compensation:
- Free, furnished housing, which means extra savings. If you live with friends or find your own accommodation, you can receive a non-taxable housing subsidy to use as you wish.
- A daily per diem for meals and expenses. The amount is higher in areas where the cost of living is more expensive.
- Signing bonuses, travel reimbursement and overtime or holiday pay, which can all add to your paycheck.
- Health benefits, retirement plans, life insurance and continuing education may also be available. Ask your recruiter what you're eligible to receive.
Strategies to increase your earnings even more
Hospitals may pay more if they need someone to start immediately. Be open to the types of opportunities that come along. You can enjoy the financial incentive and still take your dream assignment in Hawaii down the road.
Do you want to work continuously or take time off between assignments? A big benefit of travel nursing jobs is choosing when you want to work. Think about how you'd like your year to shape up and work with your recruiter to maximize your employment and keep the assignments flowing.
Consider the cost of living
While some locations command higher salaries, the cost of living can sometimes consume much of your paycheck. Keep extra money in your bank by choosing affordable locations, or check out our tips on watching your budget and expenses.
It pays to explore the types of certification desired by employers in your specialty, whether it's oncology or pediatrics. You may benefit from better compensation long term if you can demonstrate you have the competencies to excel at your job. A 2019 survey by Medscape found that the average gross income of certified RNs is $83,000 compared to $76,000 for non-certified nurses.
Other riches that come with a travel nurse career
While travel nurses can make a very comfortable living, some of the most desirable benefits are intangible.
In a permanent position, your responsibilities likely stay the same each day, but travel nurse jobs help you acquire varied skills quickly. Gain critical experience in a renowned teaching hospital, children's center or cancer treatment facility, which can make your resume stand out. Care for diverse patient populations, and learn from different colleagues and clinical settings.
Travel and life experience
When you're on staff, your travels are limited to your vacation time. It can be hard to fit your bucket list into those few weeks a year.
Travel nursing jobs pay you to explore the country. Make your way down the west coast or spend time in the southern states. Explore the mountains and deserts. Try surfing or skiing, or test out small town living. You can sightsee on your days off, get to know an area like a local and plan road trips between jobs. Check out some ideas on how to make the most of your travels.
While you can earn a comfortable living as an RN on the road, the riches of a travel nurse career extend beyond your paycheck. Gain precious experience, discover the beauty of different regions and make new friends — all while caring for patients across the country. These incredible blessings are hard to come by in any other job.
Apply online now and start your travel nursing adventure.