How Much Can Travel Nurses Make Annually?

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, September 22, 2022


Nurses are drawn to travel nursing for the excitement and challenge of tackling a new assignment every 13 weeks. The prospect of premium compensation is another strong incentive. In fact, one of the most common questions from traditional nurses is, “How much can travel nurses make annually?” It’s a good question without a simple answer. Each travel nursing contract comes with its own unique variables.

There’s no one answer for travel nursing compensation

It’s not easy to nail down a specific number for what travel nurses make each year. This is because travel nursing compensation is extremely variable — from contract to contract and state to state.

There are numerous factors that can influence how much a travel nurse is paid. The location and nature of the assignment are two big ones. Pay can vary based on the state you work in as well as whether your facility is in an urban or rural location. Areas with high demand might pay more, as can certain shifts. This has been particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic: Areas with high infection rates saw a surge in pay.

Another major factor that can influence travel nursing pay is a nurse’s qualifications. Experience, education, and specialty are significant contributors to higher-wage opportunities in the field. The more educated and skilled a travel nurse is, the more in-demand they are — and the higher their contract rates will be.


Annual estimates for travel nurses

It’s important to remember that travel nurses work approximately 13 weeks per assignment and have the option not to take assignments back-to-back. Therefore, the true earning potential will vary based on the number of breaks taken in between assignments.

Assuming regular contracts, the first step is to look at the average salary of a registered nurse (RN). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for an RN is $77,600, or around $37 per hour. Advanced education or specialties can influence that number as well. BLS data notes the average annual salary for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is $123,780, or around $60 per hour. As nursing shortages continue across the country, demand for travel nurses is high, which means their pay rates are following suit. Some reports indicate that travel nurses can make upwards of $120 per hour, which is significantly higher than the hourly rate for a permanent nurse position.

Ultimately, the pay scale for travel nursing will be determined by the location and any specialties or certifications. Travel nurses should discuss pay opportunities with their recruiter to determine which assignments will garner the greatest compensation based on their experience and abilities.

Total compensation should also be considered

Another factor to consider when discussing travel nurse salary is the overall compensation package. These packages differ from staff nurse salaries. A travel nursing compensation package typically includes the hourly rate as well as nontaxable benefits such as housing stipends, meal per diems, and travel reimbursements.

However, travel nurses may also be eligible for benefits that aren’t directly reflected in their paychecks. These may include paid time off, health insurance, continuing education resources, and flexible scheduling options. All of these benefits hold their own value. Travel nurses should keep this in mind when considering how much their assignments pay at the end of the day.

Travel nursing is an exciting career with plenty of earning opportunities. If you’re eager to tackle an assignment and establish strong annual income, Health Providers Choice has a contract waiting for you. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800 to speak with a recruiter to learn more about current contract opportunities.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.