What to Know About The 5 Highest Paying Travel Nurse Specialties

Travel Nurse Specialties

The allure of travel nursing isn’t too hard to find—you work when you want, where you want, and get paid for doing what you love. You also get to obtain new personal and professional experiences and explore places that may have otherwise remained unknown to you. However, there’s more to know about travel nursing if you want to be prepared.

Like any profession, travel nurses want their skillset and specialty to be in high demand. In the travel nursing industry, that’s how you gain job security, a higher salary, and more options when it comes to choosing your travel nurse assignment. The highest-paid travel nurse specialties depend on various factors, including location, demand, and urgency of needs.

Before signing a travel nurse contract, let’s look at the highest-paid travel nurse specialties and the important aspects to consider.

Things To Consider About Best Paying Travel Nurse Specialties

1. ICU Travel Nurse

ICU nurses are the most in-demand and highest-paid travel nurse specialty for obvious reasons. They are highly trained in caring for the most critical patients—patients who are intubated, ventilated, on life-sustaining medication drips, or whose life hangs on by a thread. To work in the ICU, you must be meticulously organized, respond quickly to emergencies, and handle unpredictable situations. 

ICU nurses often have advanced training and certifications, which means increased pay packages. Furthermore, ICU nurses can essentially work or float to most units in the hospital, and this also increases demand.

2. ER and OR Travel Nurses

ER and OR travel nurse specialties have a lot of overlap but still remain two distinct professions. The main differences revolve around the number of patients you will see on a given day and how predictable your workflow will be during your travel nurse assignment. In the ER, you have to prioritize far more because you are exposed to more people with a wide range of illnesses and injuries. On the other hand, the OR will see a set number of people per day, and you will have the predictability of knowing which conditions you’ll see.

ER nurses have been in short supply since the start of Covid, so this travel nurse specialty can make excellent money in most locations throughout the country. An ongoing shortage of ER nurses is expected in the future because of the fast-paced nature and overall intensity of the ER.

Operating room nurses can either function as circulating or scrub nurses during procedures. Typically, travel nurses assume the circulating nurse role; however, it depends on the setting. OR nurses are highly skilled; the more experience with different body systems, the more desirable you will be.

3. Med-Surg Travel Nurse

Medical-surgical nurses provide patient care for various medical conditions and often have heavier patient assignments than in an ICU setting. A Med-Surg nurse is responsible for coordinating a patient’s care from the minute they walk through the door to the moment they leave. The knowledge and experience of travel nurses in these specialties are vital and irreplaceable. High-level critical-thinking skills, vast clinical understanding, and calmness under pressure are imperative for Med-Surg nurses.

4. L&D Travel Nurse

L&D Nurses are consistently among the highest-paid travel nursing specialties because of the overwhelming number of births in many hospitals. Labor and Delivery travel nurses are an integral part of the delivery process, ensuring that mothers, newborns, and their extended families receive quality, essential care during every step of the birthing process. These nurses usually care for relatively healthy patients but must be ready to handle any emergencies that arise, such as an unscheduled cesarean section.

5. Telemetry Travel Nurse

Similar to medical-surgical nurses, telemetry nurses primarily focus on patients requiring advanced cardiac monitoring. Telemetry travel nurses often care for more critically ill patients than medical-surgical nurses. They monitor changes in condition, record and interpret vital data to assist with patient assessment, and are responsible for educating patients on home health care.

Common conditions requiring Telemetry RN interventions include cardiac surgery, renal failure, COPD, sleep disorders, neurological problems, epilepsy, and cancer. 

Bonus: Pediatric Travel Nurse

Pediatric Travel RNs provide nursing care to children, adolescents, and teens. Because they work with such a sensitive population, their duties often go beyond the simple tasks such as monitoring vitals and administering medications.

Working with children can be both rewarding and challenging. Pediatric Travel RNs must have the patience and compassion to care for children who are often scared and uncomfortable. They must also be able to work quickly and efficiently under pressure, and be able to handle complex medical tasks. This type of nursing can be both exciting and challenging, and it allows you to experience new places and meet new people

The world of travel nursing opens a whole new world of possibilities for passionate and daring RNs—whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned nurse. If you’re ready to grow your nursing career, Nurse First can help! Visit our job board to see all available travel nurse jobs at our top travel nurse locations and get started today!

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