Nursing Salaries Stand Out for Travel Nurses

When it comes time to dish the dirt on nursing salaries, travel nursing jobs always come up in the gab. Some RNs envy them, others despise them. Truth is that travel nurses, a.k.a. “travelers,” can earn some big money for their efforts. But they can also be expected to tolerate some inglorious working situations in exchange for a bit more jingle and some free-spirited sight-seeing.

How Much Can a Travel Nurse Earn?

Exactly how much money a travel RN can earn depends upon a medley of factors including:

  • Region of the country
  • Timing of the contract – for example, few travelers want to go live for 3 months in Wisconsin in January, so any available travel jobs would likely be bundled with very appealing hourly rates to attract the few that might still consider the job given more cash-attachment. It becomes incentive.
  • Need – many hospitals face running on unsafe staffing levels without travelers
  • Completion bonuses – In some situations hospitals are so needy that they bundle in extra incentive to attract travelers. One of the most popular incentives is the completion bonus, usually a few thousand dollars awarded to a travel RN when he or she successfully finishes the agreed upon contract hours.

Suffice it to say that most travel nurse jobs offer well above the going hourly rate of a permanent RN.

Benefits of Travel Nursing

There are other benefits to travel nursing and ways in which RNs on the road are compensated for their efforts. Most travel companies that contract RNs provide the following to their client RNs:

  • Travel reimbursement allowance—a certain amount, usually a few hundred dollars, to cover travel between contract locations
  • Condo or apartment plus basic utilities for the duration of your contract
  • Health insurance, for the duration of your contract.

Restrictions to Travel Nursing

Travel nursing comes with its downfalls, as well:

  • Contracts only last usually 3 months – this means that unless a current hospital is willing to extend your contract you will need to be making plans for another assignment almost as soon as you begin your current
  • You are responsible for your own CEUs (most permanent staff RNs are assigned CEs)
  • Responsible for your own insurance coverage between contracts
  • Must adapt quickly to other nursing departments, sometimes with less than optimal orientation or precepting
  • Must “travel light”
  • Required to apply for various necessary state nursing licenses
  • Must often work holidays, weekends, night or rotating shifts.

Pre-Requisites to Becoming an RN Traveler

  • Before you are eligible for a travel contract you must have at least a few years of nursing under your belt.
  • You must be an RN with at least a 2-year Associates degree and in some locations a BSN-RN is preferred.
  • You must be able to meet various skills assessments to the satisfaction of nurse management in every location and be prepared to hit the ground running and with little help from a potentially very strained team of nurses.
  • Maintain your certifications and apply for necessary state nursing licenses in a timely fashion.

All in all the opportunity to earn vastly more money as a travel nurse is a reality. You must be willing and able to take to the road with few belongings and as organized as possible to manage short-term contracts and on-the-fly work situations.

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