Travel Nurses Salary

travel nurses salaryTravel nurse pay, like all travel nursing jobs, is reliant on the specialty and geographical area of the assignment. However, a traveling nurses’ salary is typically higher than staff nurses for a variety of reasons.

Factors making traveling nurses salary so high:

  • Short term length of the assignment affords facilities higher ranges for travel nursing salary.
  • The need for supplemental staff is urgent due to seasonal patient influxes, new electronic health records implementation, and a variety of other reasons. Therefore hospitals’ travel nurse salary is top dollar to entice travelers to their open assignments.
  • Rural locations may use pay as further incentive to augment their staff with traveling nurses.

Travel Nurses Salary & Take Home Pay:

The pay package for the same job may look different for two different travelers, as many variables affect the travel nurse pay in their paycheck – also known as “take home pay”. The main items that make up a travel nurse pay rate includes, but is not limited to:

  • Housing
  • Meals & incidental expenditure (M&IE) stipend
  • Insurance & benefits plan opt-in
  • Travel stipend
  • License and certification reimbursement
  • Bonus payouts
  • 401k
  • And last but not least, hourly base rate

Traveling Nurse Salary vs. Perm Nurse Salary

While registered nurses can earn a solid paycheck, computing the difference between permanent and travel nurse salary is not a one size fits all formula: every contract is different, and it depends on the employer, travel nursing company, location, specialty and other factors. So let’s break it down in the simplest way possible:

Base Rate

Base pay varies from contract to contract, depending on how much the facility has budgeted for supplemental staffing.  It can also vary from state to state. California is said to be the highest paying state for travel nurses, but one should also consider the cost of living in California.  The best way to determine which assignment is the “best pay” is to look at the full picture, not only considering your full pay package (including stipends, reimbursements, and opportunity for overtime), but also look at the costs you will incur while on assignment.

Overtime Pay

Nurses can take advantage of overtime pay to get a bump in their paycheck. Overtime hours and regulations vary per state. Taking California as an example once again, the state mandates that employees receives 1.5 times the employee’s base rate for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in any workday. For most other states, more than 40 hours/week worked mandates overtime pay.

Travel Nurse: Overtime hours are not typically contracted in to travel nursing assignments. However, especially during holiday seasons, travel nurses can volunteer to pick up shifts to boost their paycheck, while also giving staff nurses a well-deserved break.

Permanent Nurse: Base rate multiplied by 1.5.

Work closely with your travel nurse recruiter to use overtime to maximize your income.  At Cirrus, our pay packages are custom, so we promise an overtime rate to make the extra shift worth your while.

Bonus Pay

The nursing profession, as a whole, is known for big perks, bonuses and rewards. Offering these incentives helps travel nursing agencies, hospitals and other healthcare facilities retain nurses.

Travel Nurse: Because travelers have 13-week assignments, most travel nursing companies don’t offer paid time off. However, travelers can take advantages of various bonus programs like sign-on bonuses, holiday and/or overtime hours, loyalty bonuses, referral bonuses and completion bonuses.

Permanent Nurse: Unlike travel nurses, perm nurses get paid time off, which means they can take an allotted amount of time off and still get paid.

Tax Deductions

traveling nurses salaryTo make sure you’re maximizing your tax refund, consult a tax professional – every nurse’s financial situation is different.

Travel Nurse: The tax code allows tax free reimbursements for expenses acquired while working away from your tax-home. Travel nursing companies can offer tax-free travel such as airline tickets or car mileage reimbursements, housing and meal stipends – receipts aren’t required for non-taxable stipends provided by an agency since you won’t be filing those expenses at the end of the year.

Expenses that are required for your career are also tax deductible as long as they haven’t been reimbursed by your employer – scrubs, subscription to professional journals, malpractice insurance, professional licensing and continuing education – keep the receipts for these items so you can include on your tax filing.

Permanent Nurse: Just like travel nurses, work-related items and out-of-pocket expenses are valid tax deductions for permanent nurses – membership and union fees, nursing uniforms, work-related phone calls, continuing education, subscriptions to nursing magazines, journals and books.

Aside from these, perm nurses may be required to travel between hospitals during shifts or transporting patients – they can claim car expenses for these but not traveling between home and work.

The Cirrus Difference – Highest Paying Travel Nursing Agencies

  • If you’re looking for one of the highest paying nursing jobs with one of the best paying travel nursing agencies, you’ve come to the right place. Cirrus Medical Staffing customizes pay packages for each individual travel nurse based on their unique goals.
    • A nurse who wants to focus on retirement may opt to max out their 401k contribution, and take advantage of Cirrus’ employer match program.
    • While another nurse may be more focused on saving money for their child’s college fund, and is interested in maximizing their take-home pay by forgoing other benefits.

Travel nursing pay packages allow you to maximize your time and expenses, vs. permanent nurse pay which is much more set in stone. Work with Cirrus to customize a package suits your needs!

Traveling Nurse Salary

We know there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all approach to pay packages since every travel nurse has different career paths and financial goals, so we customize your package instead of offering blanket approach. Call us today at 800-299-8232 to find out what we can do for you!