How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

Courtney Smith-Kimble, MA
by
Updated September 27, 2023
Travel nurses can earn more than other RNs. Learn more about travel nurse pay, benefits, and tax breaks. Find the highest-paying states and specialities.
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Travel nursing offers a unique work experience with the opportunity to earn above-average hourly wages. These wages may even exceed those of other registered nurses (RNs) with the same education and credentials.

Travel nurses are typically employed by travel nursing agencies and work assignments across the country wherever nurses are needed. Because each assignment is different, the total annual income for travel nurses can vary significantly. Factors include the details of the pay package, where the assignment is located, and nursing specialty.

On this page you will find the most recent information about travel RN salaries, benefits, specialties, and the states with a high demand for travel nurses.

Fast Facts About Travel Nurses

  • Travel nurses generally earn as much or more than staff nurses with the same experience and qualifications.
  • Lodging reimbursement and tax advantages impact travel nursing salaries.
  • The most in-demand travel nursing specialties include labor and delivery, emergency room, and medical-surgical/telemetry.

Average Pay for Travel Nurses

The average travel nurse salary varies greatly depending on the work assignment. Depending on travel location, these practitioners can earn between $3,000 and $7,000 per week, averaging a 36-hour work week. According to Vivian, a healthcare jobs marketplace, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), travel nurses earn jan average of $2,183 per week, while RNs earn a mean hourly wage of $42.80. However, aspiring travel nurses should note that living on the road leads to additional personal expenses, so the increase in pay accounts for living accommodations.


$10,882

Max Weekly Pay


$2,183

Average Total Weekly Pay


Source: Vivian, September 2023

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Travel Nursing Pay Explained

Travel nurse pay differs from full-time nursing positions because agencies offer hourly rates for each assignment, meaning RNs can shop around and find opportunities with ideal pay. In contrast, RNs working full time at hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other facilities usually rely on raises or additional education to increase their earning potential.

Practitioners considering this role also need to explore what take-home pay looks like for travel nurses. Nursing agencies set their own conditions, so pay packages vary. For instance, organizations may offer an hourly base pay with additional stipends to cover housing or meals, while other companies may offer a higher hourly rate to account for additional expenses.

Highest and Lowest Paying States for Travel Nurses

Travel nurse salaries vary by state and region. Locations in need of RNs typically offer more competitive wages. In fact, the popularity of a particular region can influence travel nurses’ earning potential. Less popular locations may pay more, while desirable locations may pay less. Likewise, states with a higher cost of living offer higher wages relative to living costs.

According to 2023 data from Vivian, the top-paying states for travel RNs included New Jersey, California, and Alaska. Practitioners also want to consider the highest-paying specialties to determine earning potential which may vary by state. The following section includes the top specialties in demand.

Highest Paying Travel Nurse Specialities

Typically, nursing specialties that lack licensed practitioners offer more pay than other specialties, which further increases earning potential for travel nurses. Higher acuity facilities also offer higher pay, as they need skilled practitioners who can meet their patients’ needs. Here are five in-demand specialties for travel nurses.

Labor and Delivery

adn or bsn”>Required
Labor and delivery travel nurses provide care for individuals in labor and at birth. These nurses also work with physicians and midwives to oversee patients’ initial postpartum care. Responsibilities include providing emotional support and monitoring the patient’s condition. Important skills include clear communication and adaptability.
Salary 72,170*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2022-2032
Learn More About Labor and Delivery Nurses

Emergency Room

adn or bsn”>Required
ER travel nurses tend to patients with injuries and illnesses who need immediate care. ER nurses follow the care plan of nurse practitioners or physicians and supervise nursing assistants. Responsibilities include administering treatments, monitoring vitals, managing patients’ care plans, and communicating with patients’ families. Desired skills or traits include problem-solving, the ability to work under pressure, and empathy.
Salary 76,260*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2022-2032
Learn More About Emergency Room Nurses

Medical-Surgical/Telemetry

adn or bsn”>Required
Medical-surgical and telemetry RNs provide care for patients preparing for or recovering from surgery. These practitioners collaborate with their patients’ care team, performing tasks including changing wound dressings, running blood tests, and regularly assessing a patient’s condition. Medical-surgical RNs need excellent organizational, communication, and prioritization skills.
Salary 65,300*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2022-2032

Critical Care – Intensive Care Unit

adn or bsn”>Required
Critical care travel nurses work with patients experiencing acute or life-threatening injuries or medical conditions. These RNs must receive specialized training to manage their patients. Critical care nurses often work in medical ICUs, pediatric and neonatal ICUs, cardiac care units, and recovery rooms. Nurses working with critical care patients must be understanding and able to work under stressful conditions.
Salary 76,050*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2022-2032
Learn More About Critical Care – Intensive Care Unit Nurses

Operating Room Registered Nurse

adn or bsn”>Required
OR nurses care for patients undergoing surgery. Responsibilities include managing medical equipment, monitoring patients’ vital conditions, and educating patients’ families. While in the operating room, OR nurses assist surgeons by keeping instruments sterile and completing paperwork. Relevant skills or traits include remaining calm under pressure, compassion, and strong communication.
Salary 81,050*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2022-2032
Learn More About Operating Room Registered Nurses
*SOURCE: Payscale, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Travel Nurse

While travel nurse pay may exceed traditional full-time RN salaries, travel nurses can additionally increase their earning potential by considering factors like demand for specialties, understaffed or unpopular shifts, and locations in need of skilled RNs.

Travel nurses should examine the full benefits package to determine if jobs can provide sufficient take-home pay. For instance, regions with a high cost of living may impact how much practitioners actually earn if stipends do not cover all costs.

Frequently Asked Questions: Travel Nursing Salaries


How much does a traveling nurse make per year?

Travel nurse salaries vary significantly, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19. Factors that can influence earning potential include geographic location and specialty. However, travel RNs should anticipate working 46 weeks a year and earning about $2,183 on a weekly basis.

Do travel nurses get paid more?

Travel nurses typically earn more than full-time salaried RNs because they often take job assignments where there is a nursing shortage. Travel nurse agencies also pay practitioners by the hour and offer additional benefits, including housing and meal stipends.

Is travel nursing worth the money?

Travel nurses generally earn more than salaried RNs. However, practitioners should consider their lifestyle as well. For instance, an RN with a family may not feel the additional pay outweighs time at home, while another practitioner may find the pay suitable and enjoy the travel opportunities.

Do travel nurses get time off?

Travel nurses often do not receive time off since they work hourly and take temporary job assignments. While assignments vary, travel nurses should plan to work for 8-26 weeks at a time. Most travel nurses schedule time off between job assignments.

Learn More About Travel Nurses

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