Nursing
October 17, 2023

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make? (2023)

HealthJob's travel nurse salary report.

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How Much Do Travel Nurses Make? (2023)

As a travel nurse, you choose your assignments, meaning you have control over your salary and benefits. After analyzing more than 23,000 registered nurse travel job listings on HealthJob's travel nurse job board in September 2023, we found that, on average, travel nurses earn $2,153 per week or $54 per hour.  At current rates, a travel nurse working 52 weeks in a year would have an annual salary of $111,956. However, travel nurse salary and compensation will depend on several factors. Your assignment’s location, the number of hours you work, and your benefits all play a role when comparing compensation packages.

Where Can Travel Nurses Earn The Most?

The highest-paying cities and states for travel nurses are typically places suffering from a chronic nursing shortage.  For example, California will need nearly 50,000 nurses by 2030, often the highest-paying state for travel nurses.

Since early August, however, New Jersey has been the highest-paying state for travel nurses. The pay increase results from a nurse strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where 1,700 nurses are fighting for “safe staffing ratios, better retirement benefits, lower insurance cap percentages, and wage increases.”

Due to the ongoing deadlock between the hospital and its nurses, the hospital has paid traveling nurses a premium. The average weekly travel nurse contract for nurses in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s location, was more than twice the national average, $4,405 per week versus $2,153 per week. 

Highest Paying States for Travel Nurses

The following states had the highest median travel nurse salary. New Jersey has a median travel nurse salary 21% higher than the national average.

U.S. States and DistrictWeeky SalaryCompared to Median
New Jersey$2,60821.13%
California$2,54318.11%
Alaska$2,47715.05%
New York$2,43112.91%
Utah$2,42112.42%
Wyoming$2,36910.03%
Arizona$2,3609.61%
Massachusetts$2,3207.76%
Maine$2,3107.29%
North Dakota$2,3047.01%
Wisconsin$2,3036.97%
Ohio$2,2454.27%
West Virginia$2,2404.04%
Vermont$2,2343.76%
Minnesota$2,2253.34%
Nevada$2,2102.65%
New Hampshire$2,2072.51%
Colorado$2,1851.49%
Illinois$2,1801.23%
Oregon$2,1650.56%
Connecticut$2,1600.33%
Pennsylvania$2,1600.33%
Washington$2,1600.33%
Delaware$2,1600.33%
Nebraska$2,135-0.84%
Indiana$2,135-0.84%
Rhode Island$2,115-1.76%
South Dakota$2,111-1.95%
Washington, D.C.$2,110-2.00%
Montana$2,106-2.18%
Maryland$2,100-2.46%
New Mexico$2,080-3.39%
Kentucky$2,056-4.51%
Hawaii$2,052-4.69%
Virginia$2,025-5.97%
Michigan$2,016-6.36%
Iowa$2,015-6.41%
Missouri$1,991-7.55%
Idaho$1,990-7.57%
Texas$1,960-8.96%
Louisiana$1,944-9.71%
Florida$1,944-9.71%
Kansas$1,944-9.71%
North Carolina$1,935-10.13%
Georgia$1,915-11.05%
Oklahoma$1,908-11.38%
Tennessee$1,872-13.05%
Mississippi$1,872-13.05%
Alabama$1,864-13.42%
Arkansas$1,863-13.47%
South Carolina$1,832-14.91%

Highest Paying Cities for Travel Nurses

We looked at cities with more than three open nursing positions and found the following cities to be the highest-paying cities for travel nurses.

CitySalary
New Brunswick, NJ$4,405 per week
King City, CA$3,570 per week
Woodland, CA$3497 per week
Potsdam, NY$3,391 per week
Oak Lawn, IL$3,320 per week
Mott Haven, NY$3,315 per week
Stockton, CA$3,312 per week
Farmington, CT$3,280 per week
Clovis, CA$3,258 per week
Honesdale, PA$3,230 per week

What Are the Highest Paying Travel Nursing Specialties Today?

Travel nurse pay depends not just on the location but also on a travel nurse's specialty. Contracts that are difficult to fill can often command a premium. The highest-paying travel nurse specialties in September 2023 are as follows.

  1. Manager, Labor and Delivery - $3,365 per week
  2. First Assist - $3,335 per week
  3. Transplant Surgery - $3,230 per week
  4. PreOp / PACU $3,175 per week
  5. Float Pediatrics - $3,023 per week
  6. Nurse Educator - $2,939 per week
  7. Pediatrics OR- $2,931 per week
  8. Colo-Rectal Surgery - $2,928 per week
  9. Home Health Long Term Care - $2,902 per week
  10. Perioperative - $2,883 per week

What Are The Most In-Demand Travel Nurse Jobs?

The speciality with the most listings is medical-surgical nursing. Medical-surgical job listings, also known as med surg, account for 22.49% of all travel nurse job listings on HealthJob. These are the salaries for the most in-demand travel nurse jobs.

SpecialtyWeekly SalaryShare of Listings
Med Surg$2,03222.49%
Telemetry$2,11112.89%
ED$2,17310.16%
PCU$2,18310.08%
ICU$2,1497.74%
OR$2,4124.83%
Labor and Delivery$2,2363.71%
Med Surg / Telemetry$2,1243.34%
Oncology$2,1842.33%
Cardiac Cath Lab$2,6282.28%

What Benefits Do Travel Nurses Get?

Your hourly rate is just the beginning of your compensation. When comparing contracts, you must take your benefits into account as well. Benefits can make up a large portion of your total compensation.

  • Travel Reimbursements: Some assignments will reimburse you for traveling to and from your assignment. Travel reimbursements typically come at a flat rate but can also come as a per-mile reimbursement based on the distance you’re traveling. You might also get a flight reimbursement if your assignment is in Alaska or Hawaii.
  • Licensing Reimbursements: If you need to get licensed in a new state, your staffing agency may reimburse you for getting a new license.
  • Benefits: Staffing agencies often offer 401k plans, life insurance, and other benefits.
  • Housing: Most staffing agencies will provide housing support, either in the form of a housing stipend or housing provided by the agency.
  • Tax-Free: You may get tax benefits by working in a state that is not your primary residence.
  • Overtime or extra time: In addition to your contracted hourly rate, some staffing companies also have an hourly rate for additional hours worked. You may be able to negotiate this rate, which will help increase your overall earnings.

As a traveler, you have more control over all aspects of your career—your salary is just one of them. In addition to pay, you choose where you want to work, the communities you will serve, and the amount of time you have off. Knowing the average travel nurse's salary can help you make informed decisions about your next assignment.

Do Travel Nurses Earn More Than Staff Nurses?

Travel nurses earn $2,153 per week, more than the average weekly wage for registered nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average travel registered nurse's salary is $77,600. Assuming a year is 52 weeks, the average weekly wage for registered nurses is $1,492 per week. Determining the average annual salary for travel nurses can be challenging because they decide where and when they take contracts.

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About Travel Nursing

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