Which RN Specialties Pay the Highest Travel Nurse Salaries?

Nurse Administrators and The Skills Need to Advance

By Leigh Morgan, contributor

Travel nursing pay often includes bonuses, housing stipends and travel reimbursements, increasing the total amount of compensation you receive. Several factors are used to set travel nurse salaries, including a nurse's education level, years of experience and chosen specialty. To increase your annual income, consider accepting a position related to one of these highest-paying RN specialties.

Labor and delivery

Many nursing students dream of working in the labor and delivery unit because they want to cuddle cute babies. As Danielle Logacho of Chamberlain University notes, working in labor and delivery is about much more than holding babies all day. That's why it's one of the highest-paying RN specialties. To succeed in this specialty, you must be able to build strong connections with patients, recognize the warning signs of post-birth complications and comfort grieving families when a serious complication develops.

Although travel nursing pay varies according to the location of the assignment, the length of your contract and other factors, labor and delivery is consistently ranked among the highest-paying RN specialties. Weekly compensation for a travel L&D nurse ranges from $931 for an assignment in small-town Iowa to $3,272 for a position in New York City. 

RELATED:3 Essential Skills a Labor and Deliver Nurse Must-have

Cardiovascular operating room

According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, 20% of the nurses currently working in a perioperative setting are set to retire by 2022. The demand for perioperative nurses is also expected to increase by 1% to 2% per year due to the rising demand for medical care among aging baby boomers. Some of the highest travel nurse salaries are available to nurses who have the skills and experience needed to work in cardiovascular operating rooms (CVOR), which are typically used for open-heart procedures. Weekly pay for a travel CVOR nurse ranges from $1,006 in Fort Myers, Florida, to $2,362 in Modesto, California.

If you are ready to start an exciting career in travel nursing, visit the Travel Nursing job board to find high-paying opportunities in your specialty.


The National Telemetry Association highlights the positive aspects of telemetry nursing, including opportunities to earn additional credentials, reasonable certification costs and plenty of opportunities to make a difference in the lives of patients with heart conditions. One of the reasons telemetry nurses earn a premium is because they must be able to use high-tech equipment to monitor patients' heart rhythms.

In addition to the base pay offered for a travel telemetry nursing position, you can also expect to receive a housing stipend and reimbursement for your travel costs. Some facilities even pay bonuses upon the successful completion of a short-term nursing contract. If you decide to accept a telemetry position, you can expect to receive weekly pay ranging from $955 to $2,524 depending on the location and length of the assignment.

Critical care

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses notes that critically ill patients "require heightened vigilance and extraordinarily intricate care from a team of highly skilled health professionals," making critical care one of the specialties with the highest travel nurse salaries. If you have experience working in critical care, you can leverage your skills to increase your income.

Weekly pay for an ICU travel nurse ranges from $986 to $2,512, while weekly pay for a NICU travel nurse ranges from $910 to $2,933. Some hospitals also hire travel nurses to fill positions in pediatric intensive care units (PICU), coronary care units (CCU), surgical intensive care units (SICU) and medical intensive care units (MICU). Pay for these positions depends on the length of the contract, the location of the assignment and the skills required to perform the job's essential functions. For example, PICU travel nurse salaries range from $910 per week in Memphis, Tennessee, to $2,764 per week in Palo Alto, California.

Emergency Department

The fast-paced environment of the emergency department isn't for everyone, which is why ER nurses are usually paid a premium for their work. As an ER nurse, you must be able to jump into action when a trauma comes through the door; you must also be experienced at helping patients with a variety of problems, from severe abdominal pain to the signs of a heart attack. One of the keys to success in this specialty is remaining calm under pressure, according to Rasmussen College.

Travel ER nurses make less than critical-care nurses or labor and delivery nurses, but ER nursing is still a high-paying specialty. Current ER openings offer weekly pay that ranges from $942 to $2,438.

Travel nursing is rewarding no matter which specialty you choose, but you can increase your income significantly by educating yourself on your options. When comparing offers, don't forget to include housing stipends, bonuses and other payments to determine the total compensation offered by each facility.

RELATED:Top Reasons Why Travel Nurses Get Paid More


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