Top-Paying Travel Nursing Jobs

As a travel nurse, you will have the opportunity to work in various healthcare settings across the country. Not only will you gain valuable experience and skills, but you will also earn a competitive salary. The best travel nurse salary can vary depending on several factors. In this article, we will explore what factors affect travel nurse salaries and provide insight into how you can earn the best salary in this profession.

What is a travel nurse?

Before discussing salary, let’s define what a travel nurse is. A travel nurse is a registered nurse who takes temporary assignments that typically last 13 weeks, although assignments can range from 4 to 26 weeks. Travel nurses are employed by staffing agencies that place them in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings throughout the country.

Travel nursing is an excellent opportunity for RNs who enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures. Also, travel nursing allows nurses to enhance their skillset and advance their careers by working in various healthcare settings.

Factors that affect travel nurse salary

Several factors impact travel nurse salaries. These include:

1. Location

The location of the assignment plays a significant role in determining the travel nurse's pay. Large cities and urban areas offer higher salaries due to the higher cost of living.

2. Specialty

Specialties that require more education, training, and experience tend to pay more. Specialties such as ICU, ER, OR, and Labor and Delivery pays higher than medical-surgical.

3. Experience

Like other nursing jobs, travel nurse pay is impacted by experience. The more experience a travel nurse has, the higher the pay they can expect to receive.

4. Shift differentials

Shift differentials refer to additional pay for working less desirable shifts or providing care on weekends and holidays. Travel nurses can earn higher salaries by working night shifts or weekends.

5. Bonuses

Bonuses can add to the travel nurse's salary. Some staffing agencies provide sign-on bonuses or completion bonuses.

6. Tax-free benefits

The federal government allows travel nurses to receive tax-free reimbursements for travel expenses such as lodging, meals, and transportation. This benefit increases the net pay for travel nurses.

How much do travel nurses make?

The salary for travel nurses varies based on the factors mentioned above. On average, travel nurses earn between $1,200 and $3,000 per week. However, exceptional travel nurses with specialized skills and experience earn significantly more. The best travel nurse salary is determined by the market demand, skills, and experience of the travel nurse.

Tips to increase your travel nurse salary

1. Choose high-demand specialties

Specialties such as ICU, ER, OR, and Labor and Delivery are in high demand and typically pay more than other specialties. If possible, obtain certifications in these areas to increase your earning potential.

2. Be open to various locations

Areas that are less desirable, such as rural areas or small towns, often pay higher salaries due to the difficulty in staffing qualified nurses.

3. Gain experience

Experience is a significant factor in determining pay. Gaining knowledge and expertise in different specialties can also lead to better pay.

4. Be open to various shifts

Working less desirable shifts such as nights, weekends, or holidays can offer higher pay with shift differentials.

5. Negotiate your contract

When an agency makes a job offer, don't be afraid to negotiate the rate of pay. A higher-skilled, experienced nurse can negotiate for higher pay.


Travel nursing is a highly sought-after profession that offers competitive pay and a unique experience. The best travel nurse salary is determined by multiple factors such as experience, specialty, location, shifts, and bonuses. High-demand specialties, diverse locations, and various shifts can help boost earning potential. Additionally, gaining experience in different specialties can increase pay.

It is crucial to research different staffing agencies to find the best pay, benefits, and assignments. Ultimately, the best way to earn the highest travel nurse salary is to remain flexible, gain experience, seek out employment opportunities in high-demand specialties, and negotiate amicably with hiring agencies. By focusing on these areas, registered nurses can enjoy a successful career 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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