8 Reasons Why Travel Nurses Earn More Money

Did you know that a travel nurse salary is significantly higher than that of a regular, full-time nurse?

That’s right.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn approximately $71,730 per year on average.

On the other hand, the salary of a travel nurse could reach as high as $103,893 a year according to Payscale.com.

Registered nurses earn approximately $71,730 per year while the salary of a travel nurse could reach as high as $103,893 a year.

But it’s not just the travel nurse salary base that makes the compensation so attractive. There are actually a lot of elements that go into the salary of a travel nurse.

Let’s take a closer look at 8 ways that contribute to the higher salary of travel nurses.

1. Higher Base Pay

Because travel nurses typically work on short assignments—lasting between four and 13 weeks—the average travel nurse salary base is usually higher than that of a full-time professional, although it varies between locations.

In addition, different specialties pay more than others. Check out Scrubs Magazine for the top paying nursing specialties.

2. Tax-Free Stipends

As a travel nurse, you’ll receive substantial stipends to help diffuse the cost and burden of constantly relocating. Housing, meals, and incidental stipends are part of the package. Incidentals include laundry, Wi-Fi use, etc.

And since these stipends don’t qualify as income, they aren’t taxed as part of the salary of a travel nurse. Even better, stipends aren’t performance or hours based, so you keep your stipend no matter what happens.

If you can find less expensive housing and meals, as well as save on incidentals, whatever is left of the stipends is yours and adds on to your travel nurse salary!

3. Generous Reimbursements

In addition to stipends, you’ll also receive generous reimbursements for travel costs, as well as the costs of certifications, education, and licensing. You’ll need to be licensed in each state where you work.

Travel costs covered:

  • airfare
  • train tickets
  • ferry costs
  • tolls
  • taxis
  • shuttles
  • gas
  • parking
  • luggage costs

Also covered:

  • books
  • courseware
  • trade literature
  • uniforms
  • any devices you need in order to study

In contrast, when you’re working as a regular nurse, you’ll have to pay for these yourself. This actually reduces the average salary of a nurse (even if they’re partially tax-deductible).

Reimbursements increase the average travel nurse salary, over a full-time nurse, by quite a bit.

4. Healthcare and Retirement Benefits

The travel nurse agency covers both healthcare AND 401K benefits, which prevents you from having to worry about those.

Most agencies provide a range of options that cover individual and family medical, vision, and dental insurance at moderate cost to you that is automatically deducted from your travel nurse salary.

5. Tax Breaks

In order to qualify for some of the travel nurse tax deductions, you’ll need to have one permanent residence in your state of origin.

If you own your home, it makes the most sense financially to rent it out so you have some additional income and the home remains in good repair. This is a great way that many individuals supplement the average travel nurse salary.

And guess what? All of the costs associated with maintaining your home and renting it out are tax-deductible!

6. Bonuses

When you’re a travel nurse, there are numerous ways to earn bonuses.

Sign-on and completion bonuses can run as high as $10,000 per assignment, depending on your employer and position.

Sign-on and completion bonuses can run as high as $10,000 per assignment, depending on your employer and position.

Plus, many travel nurse agencies offer referrals bonuses of approximately $500 for each person you refer to them and who accepts an assignment through them.

If you’re good at networking and can communicate your enthusiasm about being a travel nurse, your average travel nurse salary could be thousands of additional dollars a year just from referrals alone.

7. Rewards Programs

Some travel staffing agencies offer rewards programs as a way to appreciate hardworking and dedicated staff.

Rewards can include:

  • Fashion accessories
  • Technology items such as laptops and tablets
  • Gift cards
  • Sporting goods
  • Home and garden items
  • Cruises and vacation trips
  • And more.

The more you work with the agency, the more points towards great prizes you can earn.

8. Experience

Traveling nurses demonstrate flexibility, cultural competency, independence, people skills, and more. All of which enhance your nursing resume to a high degree.

That means, if you ever decide to leave the travel nurse salary and lifestyle behind, you should have no problem gaining a high-paying regular nurse position at a local hospital or clinic near home.

Bringing in the Big Bucks

There’s no doubt that becoming a travel nurse can be a smart financial choice, but it’s important that you fully understand your paycheck. Have your agency representative walk you through all of this at the beginning of each assignment, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not sure about something.

Whether it’s to see more or earn more, find out what your career can do when it travels! Contact us about starting your travel nursing career.


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