Travel nursing is an exciting and unique career that offers opportunities to discover new places, gain valuable experience, and make a positive impact on people’s lives.

If you’re considering a career as a travel nurse, you may be wondering how much you can make. While there’s no single answer to this question, several factors can influence your salary as a travel nurse.

In this blog, we’ll explore the various factors that can impact travel nurse pay and provide a detailed breakdown of average salaries across the country. So, whether you’re thinking about a career in travel nursing or are simply interested in learning more about the earning potential of this field, this blog will offer valuable insights and information.

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses are certified registered nurses working in short-term positions at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities worldwide. These nurses fill gaps in areas with nursing shortages and are expected to perform all the duties of a traditional nurse.

If they have a specialization, they typically work within that specialization; otherwise, they are expected to:

  • Address patient concerns
  • Educate patients on health, wellness, and illnesses
  • Monitor patients’ recovery
  • Measure patients’ vital signs
  • Administer medication
  • Compile reports for doctors and other stakeholders
  • Ensure that all equipment and medical supplies are kept sterile and well-organized
  • Collaborate with the team effectively

Travel Nurse Salary

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The salary of a travel nurse can vary based on several factors. Firstly, the state where you practice will significantly impact your pay. Some states offer incredibly competitive salaries. For instance, a travel nurse’s salary in New York averages $125,701 per year, while other states, such as Vermont ($94,298) and North Carolina ($75,610), provide more modest wages.

Secondly, the city where you are assigned can also influence your salary. Some cities, like San Jose, CA, pay an average annual wage of over $127,092 annually. And, of course, your income may also increase depending on the education level and experience you bring to the table.

Highest-paying states for travel nurses

New York and New Hampshire pay travel nurses more than any other state, with median salaries totaling up to $125,701 and $116,530, respectively. Western states, like Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada, have higher living costs, contributing to higher paychecks, with travel nurse salaries averaging around $100,000 annually.

In contrast, Southern and Midwestern states generally have lower salaries for travel nurses, primarily because of the lower cost of living in those areas. For instance, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and Missouri have the lowest median annual salaries, with travel nurses earning an average salary of $75,610-$84,963.

Salary based on the type of travel nurse

Travel nurses can perform various duties, and the salary will differ depending on that. For example, an operating room travel nurse earns the most, with an average annual salary of $181,783 per year. In contrast, a rehab travel nurse earns an average salary of $160,216 annually.

Let’s take a look at how much different types of travel nurses earn annually:

Type      Annual Salary
Operating Room Travel Nurse      $181,783
Labor Delivery Travel Nurse      $176,470
Medical Surgical Travel Nurse      $169,909
Operating Room Travel Nurse      $167,127
Rehab Travel Nurse      $160,216

Salary based on experience

Experience is a crucial determinant of salary for travel nurses. It’s worth noting that there is a significant gap in earnings between entry-level and experienced travel nurses.

As per the latest data, the average hourly rate for a travel nurse is $40.37. However, entry-level travel nurses earn a starting salary of $31.25, significantly lower than the industry average. Conversely, senior travel nurses earn an average of $50.96 per hour, representing a substantial increase in pay compared to their entry-level peers.

When looking at the yearly income of travel nurses, the average salary stands at $83,000, with entry-level nurses earning a starting salary of $65,000. However, as nurses climb up the ladder and attain senior status, their average salaries can reach up to $115,000 annually. Therefore, it’s safe to say that experience plays a critical role in determining a travel nurse’s salary.

How To Increase Your Travel Nurse Salary


While this career is known for its lucrative pay, there are several ways to increase your earnings even further. Here are some steps you can take to achieve this goal:

  1. Opt to get paid per diem and work extra shifts: If possible, choose to get paid per diem rather than hourly pay since this option can be more profitable. Additionally, taking on extra shifts can boost your earnings significantly.
  2. Maintain nursing licenses in multiple states: Obtaining licensure in multiple states can open up more job opportunities, including higher-paying assignments.
  3. Specialize in a high-demand field: Specializing in a high-demand area like surgical nursing, trauma nursing, or research can result in higher pay rates.
  4. Take on challenging assignments: Some assignments may require long hours or working in underserved communities, but they often offer higher pay rates.

By implementing these strategies, you can boost your earning potential as a travel nurse and increase your overall job satisfaction.

Travel Nurse Job Outlook

As more nurses discover the benefits associated with travel nursing, including a competitive salary as well as personal and professional benefits, travel nursing is expected to continue growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the registered nursing profession to grow at a rate of 6% between 2021 and 2031. So, RNs now have the opportunity to fill thousands of open positions in travel nursing.

In addition, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) found that the average age of registered nurses is 52. That means there will likely be a greater need for travel nurses as more senior nurses retire.

The Bottom Line

Travel nursing is a rewarding career path that offers a wide range of benefits, including higher pay rates, flexibility, and the opportunity to explore new places. While the salary can vary depending on various factors, such as the location, facility, and level of experience, travel nurses can expect to earn more than regular nurses due to their unique skill set and willingness to take on temporary assignments in different parts of the country.

As healthcare continues to evolve and the demand for travel nurses increases, this trend is likely to continue, making travel nursing an attractive option for those seeking to advance their career while experiencing new adventures.

Interested in becoming a travel nurse? Join our registered nursing program for a holistic approach to patient care, or click here if you need extra information regarding the program.