Average Travel Nurse Salary and Benefits

The average travel nurse makes $38.83 an hour, but can make much more with crisis pay

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How much do travel nurses make?

As a travel nurse, you choose your assignments. This means that you have control over your salary and benefits. According to Indeed, the average hourly rate for travel nurses is $38.83 an hour. However, travel nurse salary and compensation will depend on a number of factors. Your assignment’s location, the number of hours you work and your benefits all play a role when comparing compensation packages.

How much does a travel nurse make in each state?

The United States faces a nursing shortage. The nurse shortage, however, is not spread evenly across the country. Some states will have a greater need for travel nurses than others. For example, California will need nearly 50,000 nurses by 2030. Their need is one of the reasons, they also have the highest per hour pay rate for travel nurses. Other states, like Florida, will have a surplus. Below, you will find a travel nurse salary chart based on Indeed data for travel nurse pay by state:

StateAbbreviationCompared to MedianMedian
AlabamaAL-5.37%$36.74
AlaskaAK4.11%$40.43
ArizonaAZ-2.49%$37.86
ArkansasAR-2.56%$37.84
CaliforniaCA16.47%$45.23
ColoradoCO-6.19%$36.43
ConnecticutCT1.67%$39.48
DelawareDE3.24%$40.09
FloridaFL-7.34%$35.98
GeorgiaGA-5.03%$36.88
HawaiiHI-4.50%$37.08
IdahoID-6.25%$36.40
IllinoisIL-3.59%$37.44
IndianaIN-7.81%$35.80
IowaIA-4.84%$36.95
KansasKS-7.03%$36.10
KentuckyKY-3.11%$37.62
LouisianaLA-10.73%$34.66
MaineME-6.38%$36.35
MarylandMD-3.11%$37.62
MassachusettsMA2.01%$39.61
MichiganMI-2.85%$37.72
MinnesotaMN-4.24%$37.18
MississippiMS-7.62%$35.87
MissouriMO-7.58%$35.89
MontanaMT-2.89%$37.71
NebraskaNE-4.25%$37.18
NevadaNV1.83%$39.54
New HampshireNH-2.84%$37.73
New JerseyNJ4.40%$40.54
New MexicoNM-5.46%$36.71
New YorkNY3.74%$40.28
North CarolinaNC-8.18%$35.65
North DakotaND6.98%$41.54
OhioOH-5.59%$36.66
OklahomaOK0.62%$39.07
OregonOR2.26%$39.71
PennsylvaniaPA0.41%$38.99
Rhode IslandRI5.44%$40.94
South CarolinaSC-7.90%$35.76
South DakotaSD-5.44%$36.72
TennesseeTN-8.35%$35.59
TexasTX-4.31%$37.16
UtahUT-11.32%$34.43
VermontVT-0.67%$38.57
VirginiaVA-5.36%$36.75
WashingtonWA2.91%$39.96
West VirginiaWV-7.08%$36.08
WisconsinWI-0.92%$38.47
WyomingWY-2.65%$37.80


Cost of living is also important to take into consideration when taking an assignment. Although travel nurses in California earn the highest per hour rate, they also face the highest cost of living. In a U.S. News and World Report ranking of states by cost of living and housing costs, California ranked second most expensive state in the country after Hawaii.

The most affordable states are: Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Michigan. Of the top five, only Oklahoma had an hourly salary greater than the national average. When looking for travel nurse jobs, you should take cost of living and salary into account.

What are the best paying specialities?

Travel nurse salaries are subject to the laws of supply and demand. Hospitals and facilities oftentimes need not just any nurse, but nurses with specific specialties. Some specialties, such as Emergency Room, Telemetry, Women’s Health and ICU are in high demand. With high demand, they are often able to command higher wages.

What benefits do you get as a travel nurse?

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 as a flat rate, but can also come in the form of a per mile reimbursement based on the distance that you’re traveling. You might also get a flight reimbursement, though that is normally reserved for assignments in Alaska and 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 benefits such as 401k plans, life insurance and other benefits.
  • Housing: Most staffing agencies will provide support for housing, either in the form of a housing stipend or housing provided by the agency.
  • Tax-Free: You may get tax benefits because you are 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 salary, 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 salary, however, will help you make informed decisions about your next assignment.

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