Top 10 Travel Nurse Hotspots For Adventure and Growth

As a travel nurse, finding the best pay can be a top priority in selecting assignments. Travel nursing offers a unique opportunity to experienced nurses to work in different healthcare facilities across the country, so it’s essential to seek out the best pay options. The factors that determine pay for the travel nurse include the region of the country, the type of healthcare facility, duration of the assignment, experience, and specialty.

To maximize your pay as a travel nurse, you need to consider the following:

1. Expertise and Specialty

Specialty and expertise are the most significant factors that affect travel nurse pay rates. Travel nurses, working in specialties that require specific skills, knowledge, and experience, often receive higher pay. These specialties include critical care, operating room, emergency room, labor and delivery, telemetry, and pediatrics. Specialty demand from facilities, along with experience in the given specialty, is the primary determinant of these pay rates.

2. Location

Location is another crucial element in determining travel nurse pay rates. Geographical areas that have a higher cost of living or regions that have difficulty retaining medical staff may offer higher pay rates to entice travel nurses. Location can also affect the available assignments in your given specialty, where you may find more high-paying jobs compared to other regions. Therefore, nurses should have an open mind when it comes to location flexibility.

3. Length & Frequency of Assignments

The length and frequency of your travel nurse assignments can also impact pay. Typically, longer assignments can result in higher pay rates than short-term contracts. Some travel nurse companies may also offer increased pay rates for nurses who work multiple consecutive contracts without any breaks in between, which can signal a consistent interest by a facility.

4. Healthcare Facility

The size, location, and prestige of the healthcare facility itself can also affect travel nurse pay. A great idea is finding travel nursing jobs with reputable facilities that have a high patient census and significant staffing shortages. These facilities often provide preliminary orientation and training, so you should receive higher pay rates according to your experience and specialty.

With these factors in mind, we’ve researched some of the best travel nurse pay rates in the US to help you find assignments with the highest earning potential.

1. California

California is well known for its high cost of living and healthcare facilities that have a constant need for nurses. Travel nurses can expect to be paid competitively here, even working in areas with less desirable reviews at the 2000-mile radius limits. These rates can vary by facility and specialty expertise, but you can earn up to $50+ per hour on your international travel nursing assignments—including an hourly completion bonus structure.

2. New York

Travel nursing jobs in New York have recently shown growth in pay rates due to more recent occurrences in the region. New York City and certain areas of Long Island, Syracuse, and Buffalo are paying the highest rates, reaching up to $80 per hour. If you work in certain specialties such as intensive care unit travel nursing jobs, orthopedics, or surgery, you should consider higher-paying facilities in this region.

3. Massachusetts

Travel nurses working in Massachusetts can earn up to $50 + per hour depending on location, experience, and specialty expertise. Boston facilities typically require nursing professionals with specialized knowledge in surgery, intensive care, and psychiatry—meaning there are many high paying assignments for experienced nurses. Unusual to western states, winter contracts in Massachusetts are a lucrative option to explore.

4. Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the US, but you can earn fantastic pay as a travel nurse working in this area's healthcare facilities. Hawaii’s remote location and isolated status make it more difficult to retain staffing in the facilities. As a result, it’s among the search highest paying locations for travel nurses, with average rates reaching up to $75 to $80 per hour, with generous completion bonuses. Because of the unique requirements of working as a travel nurse in Hawaii, consider a travel nursing company that focuses on Hawaii travel nursing jobs.

5. Washington D.C

Washington D.C is an excellent location for travel nurses to earn high pay rates. The area has a high demand for healthcare professionals, especially when recent healthcare regulations and restructuring is put in place. Nurses with experience in surgery, emergency, and critical care can earn up to $70 per hour. D.C. also tends to offer great benefits and employment packages, making it even more worthwhile.

6. Arizona

Arizona has had a surge of travel nursing jobs openings and assignments lately, mostly due to more retiring age populations. Travel nurses can expect a steady stream of high-paying assignments, with hourly rates reaching up to $65 or more, depending on specialty expertise. Working in Phoenix and Scottsdale, for example, commands higher pay, as they are popular tourist and retirement spots.

7. Texas

Texas is another state that offers many opportunities for travel nurses looking to maximize their earnings potential. Nurses with experience in specialties such as intensive care, labor and delivery, and surgery can earn up to $55 to $65 per hour. Working in major metropolitan centers like Houston, Dallas, or Austin can help increase the pay rates even further.

8. New Hampshire

New Hampshire may not come to mind, but it’s one of the highest travel nurse paying spots in the northeast US. Typically, travel nurses in this state can earn up to $40 to $45 per hour or more, mainly if they have expertise in ICU, surgery, or critical care. Nurses who accept travel nurse contracts for winter assignments with hospitals and nursing homes will command even higher rates.

9. Colorado

Colorado is a hub for travel nursing jobs, with the state offering many healthcare facilities with high competition for travel nurse staff. Resort areas such as Aspen, Vail, or Breckenridge offer travel nursing jobs with rates up to $60 per hour. On the other hand, travel nursing jobs in Denver area hospitals can offer up to $65 per hour, with additional shift differential, completion bonuses.

10. North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the most affordable states for travel nurses, as the state’s cost of living is lower compared to other higher expense areas. However, hospitals in Raleigh, Charlotte, or Asheville, today’s popular tourist hot spots, offer travel nurses with expertise in surgery, critical care, and telemetry to earn up to $45 to $55 per hour. North Carolina is a perfect example of the fact that the best travel nurse pay isn’t only found in high-cost areas.


Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse looking to maximize your earning potential or a novice looking for your first contract, these ten state listings give the perfect starting point when considering your next assignment. By evaluating your expertise and specialty, location, length, and frequency of assignments, as well as healthcare facilities, you can make an informed decision to choose the right location to increase your pay rates as a travel nurse.


Anthony Colón RN
Anthony serves as a trusted advisor to nurses looking to comparison-shop and make informed decisions regarding their first or next Travel Nurse contract. He's a former Travel Nurse with 25 years of RN experience. He will help you get a high pay Travel Nurse job that will allow you to provide safe and quality care. This blog and his Facebook group offers advice, answers & tips, PLUS Mentorship about all things regarding Travel Nursing. Thousands of Travel Nurses are in his FB group ready to help. To learn more about other aspects of Travel Nursing, be sure to visit his Facebook group called Travel Nursing - Answers, Advice and Tips PLUS Mentorship.

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