Travel Nurse Salary

Travel Nurse Salary

Every nurse that is considering a career as a travel nurse has one question they want answered: how much does a travel nurse make? Becoming a travel nurse is a huge step and it’s understandable that anyone considering it would want to know how much they will make before taking the leap. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a straight answer. Most people don’t like to reveal their income and most travel agencies are even less revealing, giving out generic figures or confusing you with stipends, bonuses, meals and incidentals and other jargon.

Stasha and I recently did a complete review of her salary as a travel nurse and we learned a lot more than we expected. We decided that these revelations should be shared with our readers so they can make a more informed decision about whether they want to travel and how to maximize their income. I’ve summarized Stasha’s income below and pointed out what we learned from our coast-to-coast assignments.

I divided Stasha’s assignments up into three categories:

  • Permanent (full-time positions Stasha had before we started traveling)
  • Travel with Stipend (travel assignments where Stasha took the housing stipend and we found our own apartment)
  • Travel with Housing Provided (travel assignments where we lived in an apartment provided and payed for by the travel agency)

At the bottom of this article, you’ll see three tables with these categories and Stasha’s salary in each category. To make these figures meaningful, we decided to show her take-home income after taxes. This is the amount that is direct deposited into our checking account every month. Displaying gross income would be confusing to non-travelers because you would have to factor in housing stipend and how much of that gets taxed and blah blah blah. It gets confusing.  Just keep in mind that Stasha claims zero dependents and at a single rate. Also keep in mind that if you cannot claim a tax home, your ‘Final Net Income’ will be about $400 less than ours. Here’s what we learned from these tables.

Stasha’s salary increased by 15% on average

If you average Stasha’s salary from her travel assignments and compare that to her permanent salary before traveling, it comes out to a 15% increase. This does not take my salary into account at all. Many travelers are single so we didn’t want to complicate things. It’s kind of ironic that the increase worked out to be 15% because that is what most travel agencies claim.  You’ll see below how you can significantly increase that number.

Provided housing saved us a lot of money

It didn’t surprise us that Stasha made more money when she took the provided housing; but it did surprise us that there was such a large difference. Stasha averaged 20% more income when she took the provided housing compared to the stipend. If you look at her Redondo Beach assignment and compare it to her Laguna Hills assignment, she made nearly $1,000 more each month in Laguna Hills even though they were less than an hour apart from each other. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we rented an apartment on the beach in Redondo Beach and our stipend was $100 less than our rent. Add in the cost of utilities and renting furniture and you can see why it put such a large dent in our Final Net Income.

We have decided that choosing our own apartment will be a last resort from here on out. The cost does not outweigh the benefits. Having said that, our Redondo Beach apartment was incredible and we are happy we did it and our hands were somewhat tied on the West Chester apartment. Stasha’s travel agency could only get us in an extended-stay hotel in a high-crime area of Philadelphia. We decided our safety was more important and it would have been difficult with two small dogs so we found our own apartment.

Location was not a factor

We were surprised that location didn’t factor in as much as we thought it would. Stasha’s lowest paying travel assignment and second highest were both in California. You can also see that our two highest paying assignments were in completely different areas on opposite sides of the country. Our numbers don’t factor in the cost of living, which is obviously higher in California, but location did not play a large role in our Final Net Income. Keep in mind that remote, unpopular and high-crime locations might pay significantly more. All of the hospitals Stasha has worked at so far have been on the outskirts of larger cities and have been medium-sized hospitals in nice areas.

After looking over Stasha’s salary and breaking it down by each assignement, we learned a lot about how we can position ourselves to earn a higher income. It’s possible to earn as much as 30% more as a traveler compared to a permanent position. If you find that traveling has not been quite as lucrative as you thought it would be, we would highly recommend you go over your assignments as we did and find the weakest links. You should also try to minimize the time between your assignments to maximize your income. A two or three week break two or three times a year adds up to a month’s worth or more of income. We hope our honesty and transparency will help others decide if traveling is right for them and help those that are already traveling earn more money.

* Visit our salary page for more information about Stasha’s salary and to find out what the average salary is in each state.

Permanent RN Position Salary

Location
Monthly Income
after Taxes
Rent
Utilities
Final Net Income
Greenville, OH$3,155$875$175$2,105
Tarpon Springs, FL$3,370$700$160$2,510

Travel RN Salary – Stipend

Location
Monthly Income
after Taxes
Rent
Utilities
Furniture
Tax Home Rent
Final Net Income
Redondo Beach, CA$5,170$2,200$70$375$400$2,125
Tarpon Springs, FL$3,400$700$160n/an/a$2,540
West Chester, PA$5,100$1,680$175$105$400$2,740

Travel RN Salary – Housing Provided

Location
Monthly Income
after Taxes
Tax Home Rent
Final Net Income
Laguna Hills, CA$3,400$400$3,000
Carlisle, PA$3,600$400$3,200
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