This article was provided by Travel Nurse Across America®
Travel nursing isn’t your average career for a long list of reasons – new locations, new workplaces, and new faces every few months, to name a few. But in some ways, looking for a new travel nursing assignment is the same as searching for any new job, and all job seekers want to know the facts before they apply. So what’s a savvy travel nurse supposed to think when the travel agencies they’re thinking about working with aren’t advertising how much their jobs pay? Let’s look at some of the reasons why travel agencies don’t post pay rates and what it means for travel nurses.
Are They Trying to Keep Me in The Dark?
The short answer is no. While it might look suspicious that a travel agency doesn’t list pay rates for travel nursing assignments, their motivation is not to mislead you. Because of each traveler’s unique situation, pay rates and packages can vary from person to person and contract to contract, even at the same facility. Often, agencies choose not to list pay rates because they don’t want a nurse to apply, thinking they will be paid a certain amount to find out it is different due to their particular circumstances and preferences not determined until later.
Like Snowflakes, No Two Pay Packages Are the Same.
Although it might not sound fair for two nurses to be paid different hourly rates at the same facility, this is sometimes the case. The key to travel nurse pay is considering the entire package, not just the hourly rate. Many factors contribute to a travel nurse’s compensation package, including the hourly rate, benefits, housing, meals, and incidentals – some of which are taxable and some possibly not, again depending on each individual’s circumstances. An “hourly equivalent” can be calculated from the total compensation package, which is a more accurate way to evaluate travel nurse pay in each unique scenario.
What About The Pay Rates Do I See Online?
Some travel nursing agencies will advertise pay rates on their companies’ websites or social media pages. While you may see some big numbers, keep in mind that this may not represent what is available to every nurse who applies. Consider the weight loss commercials you have seen on TV. While the celebrity on the screen has seen great results, the fine print says your results may vary. These are advertisements meant to capture your attention and your application with an agency, and the pay rates may not be realistic.
In some cases, agencies will take a non-taxable benefit such as per diems and gross the amount up for taxes as a “tax-equivalent” hourly rate. Be careful, as taxable pay rates and per diems are not the same, and everyone’s tax rates differ. Always make sure that the package is not skirting IRS or state tax laws to put more in your pocket today at the risk of an audit in the future.
When trying to find the travel nursing assignment that’s right for you, it’s always best to develop a relationship with a recruiter who can advise you with your best interests in mind to find the assignment that’s right for you. The top agencies will provide an apples-to-apples comparison of competing pay packages to ensure you do not make a financial decision on incorrect information. That way, you’ll get the best of everything that travel nursing has to offer, which includes pay rate – but as you can see, a whole lot more.