Just like any nursing job, travel nurse salary varies from specialty to location to immediate demand. Overall, travel nurses tend to be compensated more than staff nurses, but this is predominantly the case in bigger cities and during times when demand for additional nursing staff is on the rise (during a pandemic, for example).
According to the BLS, registered nurses, on average, make about $34 an hour (around $70,000 a year). On the other hand, a study performed by the Staffing Industry Analysts puts travel nurses at about $50 an hour (or over $100,000 a year). Moreover, unlike the set annual salary of a staff nurse, travel nursing pay packages include both taxable and non-taxable income (in the form of stipends and reimbursements).
What does this mean? It means that a significant proportion of your pay is not taxed at the end of the fiscal year. In other words, even if on paper the salary is the same as that of a staff job, you’d actually still be taking home more money since less of the total salary is taxed.
Travel nurses are also some of the best budgeters and savers around. With increased work flexibility and options comes additional ways to cut back on expenses. For example, you can skip the costs of renting or owning a sedentary home, and instead, own a home on wheels. You can also travel to states with higher base rates than your own home city or state, and then return home at the end of the contract (likely with more money in your pockets).
While travel nursing isn't all about the money, it's still an important factor in your decision making; and, if you're looking to make a bit more money and meet specific short-term savings goals, travel nursing may just be your golden ticket.
For more information on the travel nurse salary breakdown, you can check out our Nurse Salary Explorer.