Traveling Nurse Salaries: Payscale By State How to Negotiate Pay

Though travel nurses may work in various facilities–hospitals, doctors’ offices, long-term care facilities, etc.–they can choose where they work, which helps keep life more interesting. Travel nurses have direct control over the assignments they take, influencing their salary and benefits. Some may even earn more than staff RNs with the same education and credentials.

Travel nursing salaries vary by skill level, experience, and location. In fact, travel nurse destinations are one of the prime factors travel nurses consider before taking their next assignment—the more popular locations usually mean a more competitive market but a higher payday. According to ZipRecruiter, the average traveling nurse salary in the U.S. is $118,400 a year. We can break this down into three categories:

  • Hourly: The average hourly rate for a travel nurse is about $57. However, if you’re just starting out, you could earn less than the average while more experienced travelers receive more. Working in one of the highest-paid travel nursing specialties could also increase your dollar amount. 
  • Monthly: The monthly salary for travel nurses averages $9,790. This amount may also vary depending on overtime pay, bonuses, stipends, etc.
  • Annually: As mentioned, the average traveling nurse salary in the U.S. is $118,400, with variations above and below.

It’s important for travel nurses to know how they will be compensated for their labor upfront. At Nurse First Travel Agency, we pride ourselves on being 100% transparent with our travelers to ensure they choose the best travel nurse assignment, whether for the pay, location, facility, or a combination. According to NursingProcess.Org, some states offer very competitive pay. The top five with the best average traveling nurse salaries include:

Negotiating Travel Nurse Salaries by State

How To Negotiate Your Travel Nursing Pay

If you’re uncomfortable with the terms of your travel nurse contract, it’s time to negotiate. Negotiating as a travel nurse is important for a few reasons. If you don’t speak up, you could put yourself in less than satisfactory situations. Here are a few tips to help you find the right contract.

Find Your True Rate Of Pay

Before negotiating the pay in your travel nursing contract, you must first understand what they usually include, especially the pay packages. Fully understanding what you’re looking at will help you better compare different contracts and instill the impression that you know what you’re doing—even if you’re not sure yet. Travelers can ask for a sample contract to know what to expect from a specific facility. This will increase your chances of a successful negotiation. 

Once you understand how contracts work, you can more accurately determine the value of their pay packages. Since travel nursing pay rates often include more than just the hourly rate, make sure to read between the lines. Does the contract cover real travel expenses? What will reimbursements include? Are there contract extension bonuses and overtime and holiday pay? Some travel nurse contracts combine the hourly rate and non-taxable items into a blended rate which can be more confusing than it’s worth. Don’t be afraid to ask ALL of the questions you need answered.

Related Post: 5 Tips For Helping Travel Nurses Navigate A Contract Extension

Be Flexible

Travel nurse agencies offer different pay packages and bring various benefits to the table, so it’s okay to keep your options open—you should always have a plan A, B, and C. Doing your research and comparing each agency will help guide you in accepting or negotiating a position. This contract may have a higher pay rate, but you don’t care for the location; the other contract has a lower pay package, but the facility is highly recommended. The process can involve a little compromising. However, understanding that your agency and recruiter want to help you find your dream assignment will help put you in the best situation. 

Say No

You will always be your biggest advocate, and sometimes that means listening to your intuition. If you feel unappreciated or undervalued, address it with your agency and talk it out. If you think an assignment isn’t right for you, don’t feel pressured to take it—the best travel nurse recruiters will understand and find something better. Your needs should be a priority, and it’s okay to decline certain contracts that don’t meet them. If that seems to be a problem, there are hundreds of other agencies and travel nurse assignments to choose from. At the end of the day, you’re the one putting on the scrubs and clocking in. 

In travel nursing, you have more control over all aspects of your career—your salary is just one of them. Travel nurses should always be negotiating for themselves to ensure they make the most out of their assignments. If you’re ready to find the best travel nurse assignment for you, visit our job board for the latest travel nurse jobs in the top travel nurse locations!

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