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 District
Compared to Median
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.
New Brunswick, NJ
$4,405 per week
King City, CA
$3,570 per week
$3497 per week
$3,391 per week
Oak Lawn, IL
$3,320 per week
Mott Haven, NY
$3,315 per week
$3,312 per week
$3,280 per week
$3,258 per week
$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.
Manager, Labor and Delivery - $3,365 per week
First Assist - $3,335 per week
Transplant Surgery - $3,230 per week
PreOp / PACU $3,175 per week
Float Pediatrics - $3,023 per week
Nurse Educator - $2,939 per week
Pediatrics OR- $2,931 per week
Colo-Rectal Surgery - $2,928 per week
Home Health Long Term Care - $2,902 per week
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.
Share of Listings
Labor and Delivery
Med Surg / Telemetry
Cardiac Cath Lab
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.