As a travel nurse, you likely want to make the most out of your next assignment. While travel nurse pay is already typically higher than that of permanent staff nurse, some regions of the country may offer more lucrative opportunities. Doing your research ahead of time may help you better meet your personal financial goals. To help you along the way, here is some information from your trusty sidekicks at Tailored Healthcare Staffing.
Where Do Travel Nurses Go to Make the Most?
Much like traditional hospital jobs, travel nurse pay varies widely by state, specialty, and degree of nursing shortage. Unlike traditional hospital jobs, however, travel nurses don’t just receive a flat amount. In addition to an hourly rate, travel nurses receive either free housing or a housing stipend. They may also receive meal and travel stipends, among other benefits. Each contract will offer different numbers based on the bill rate of the hospital and the cost of living in the area. Your living situation and lifestyle will also affect the amount of money you can make on assignments.
In short, it’s not possible to say definitively how much you will make when working as a traveler in a given state. However, below is information that will give you an idea of which states typically offer the best money to travel nurses, as well as which typically offer the least.
This information is taken from a Nurse Journal’s article, titled “Travel Nursing Careers & Salary Outlook.” It’s important to note that this list does not factor in the extensive benefits associated with travel nurse positions—only the base pay reported in terms of yearly salary.
5 Highest-Paying States for Travel Nurses
Often touted as the reason nurses leave permanent staff jobs to travel the country is how much money one can earn by working shorter assignments in new places. But which states will give you the best bang for your buck? The true income of a travel nurse is multi-factorial, but helpful trends do appear over time. Here are the five states that typically pay travel nurses the most:
1. Washington, D.C.
While not a “state,” the U.S. capital’s average travel nursing salary is $84,000—highest in the nation.
2. New York and Massachusetts (tied)
New York and Massachusetts offer a salary that is 20% higher than the national average ($81,000); the two are tied as second-highest-paying states.
Also in the northeast, the fourth-highest-paying state is Connecticut. At 15% higher than the national average, travel nurses in Connecticut can make an average of $77,000 per year.
The only top-5 state that’s not in the northeast is Georgia. Travel nurses in the Peach State are offered $76,000, 14% higher than the national average.
It’s important to consider the cost of living in these areas. High rental costs for apartments will cut into your profit; conversely, they may also translate to higher housing stipends. Your recruiter will help you navigate this trade-off.
5 Lowest-Paying States for Travel Nurses
And now, a look at the five states with the lowest average salaries for travel nurses. Again, this list does not factor in the many benefits associated with travel nursing jobs—only the base pay reported in terms of yearly salary.
Hawaii apparently rests on being an excellent travel destination to justify offering the lowest average salary to travel nurses—$42,000. The beautiful climate and breathtaking views likely won’t keep your bank account in the black, but it might be worth it for one contract.
Idaho is the second-lowest-paying state, on average, for travel nurses. The average salary of a travel nurse in Idaho is $45,000.
Equally landlocked but with fewer mountains is Nebraska, which is the third-lowest-paying state in the country. At 27% less than the national average, Nebraska offers an average salary of $49,000.
Alaska pays its travel nurses $50,000 annually—26% less than the national average. Much like Hawaii, traveling to Alaska may be worth the lower salary, if moose, mountains, and snow are your thing.
5. South Dakota
Back in the lower 48, South Dakota is fifth from the bottom in terms of average salary, offering $51,000 for travel nurses to work in the minimally-populated state.
Despite sitting at the bottom end of the list, some of these states may offer incentives to attract the best travel nurses.