Travel Nurse Salary: How to Maximize Yours

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By CareerStaff Unlimited

July 12, 2023



10 Tips to Maximize Your Travel Nurse Salary

CareerStaff Unlimited provided this article.

Travel nurse salaries hit record highs during the pandemic. And while those numbers have come back down a little in the past year, travel nursing jobs still usually pay much more than staff positions.

With travel nursing, there’s no reason not to seize a well-deserved opportunity to maximize your wages. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips to make sure you earn as much as possible during your next travel nursing job!

travel nurse salary

1. Don’t be afraid to be upfront.

When discussing with your recruiter, it’s perfectly okay to ask about the salary range for your desired position and share your own pay expectations. After all, it’s essential to have an idea of what you could potentially earn before diving into a job search. Being upfront about your worth can give you a better shot at getting the amount you want.

2. Be ready to justify your request.

It’s also reasonable to expect to be asked why you deserve the amount you’re requesting. Be ready with a list of what you’re bringing to the table — especially if that includes particularly valuable skills like OR, acute care, or telehealth experience.

3. Practice your negotiation skills.

Because they’re in such high demand, travelers have room to negotiate for their desired salary. But negotiation skills may not come naturally for people whose main focus is usually empathy and caring for others. If you’re that type of person, it’s a good idea to work on building those skills. Try practicing with a friend, colleague, or loved one.

4. Factor in stipends, benefits, and bonuses.

You can expect to receive certain stipends as a traveler — in other words, extra cash for common expenses like housing and getting to your assignment. You may be offered benefits, too, as well as an extension bonus if you stay on after a certain time. Make sure you’re clear on whether all of this is part of the base salary you’re offered or in addition to it.

5. Be clear on job expectations.

Make sure you understand just how many hours you’ll have to work to get the compensation package they’re offering. Getting an offer based on a 48-hour week isn’t unheard of, after all. And that means you’ll literally be working overtime to get the salary you want.

travel nurse salary

6. Factor in the location.

Nursing salaries vary widely from state to state and city to city. For instance, you can expect to earn more in a high-paying place like California or Massachusetts as opposed to one on the lower end, like Nebraska or Tennessee. Make sure you consider this before accepting or turning down an offer, and explore where your state fits in.

7. Factor in the cost of living.

Nurse salaries also tend to be higher in cities than in rural areas. Before you let that affect your decision to accept a travel assignment, though, you should also consider that it’s usually cheaper to live in the country than in the city. So, even though your base salary may be lower, you could end up earning more by saving on rent for a few months.

8. Ask about extra opportunities.

Even though overtime shouldn’t be included in a salary package, it could still be a good option if you’re looking to maximize your earnings while traveling. Asking if you’ll be able to pick up extra nursing shifts (especially weekends and holidays) could also make you a more appealing candidate. In addition, that can give you a better chance of getting hired and getting the salary you want.

9. Understand your tax liability.

Depending on your employment situation, you may not have taxes withheld from your paycheck. Some parts of your compensation, like stipends, are also usually taxed differently than your salary. Your best bet is to calculate your overall liability in advance and set aside that amount each week. If you have trouble understanding this, consider consulting a tax specialist.

10. Consult an expert!

There’s a good reason why so many travel nurses rely on agencies to find the best jobs and the best pay. Leading travel nurse companies offer expert-level recruiters who walk you through every detail, which is a great resource even for seasoned travelers. So, before you accept your next travel job, talk with a recruiter about your specific situation, whether your pay expectations are reasonable, how to avoid any unpleasant tax surprises, and anything else you need to know.

We hope you found these tips on how to maximize your travel nurse salary helpful. Have you found any ways to maximize your travel nurse salary? Comment them below.

Good luck with your next travel adventure! If you’re looking for expert advice and a competitive salary, CareerStaff is a great place to find both. We’ve got opportunities across the United States and amazing recruiters to help you maximize your travel nurse salary. Visit today for all the details.

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)

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