What is a Travel Nurse Salary?

Job Seeker, Salary, Travel Nursing

What is a Travel Nurse Salary

Travel nursing is a great way to secure a lucrative income while living your passion for traveling and helping others. But exactly what is a travel nurse salary? Like most jobs in other industries, salary is affected by many factors, such as the location and type of the nursing job in question, specialty and education level, seasonality and demand, and other influences. We’ll discuss the average travel nurse salary and the main things that impact your earnings so you can maximize your nursing career.

Average Travel Nurse Salary in the U.S.

According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics data, a staff RN’s median salary was $86,070. The best-paid 25% made $104,670. while the lowest-paid 25% made $75,990. They also reported that the mean hourly wage for an RN in 2022 was $45.45, and the average RN salary was $94,480.

On the flip side, Indeed reported the average travel nurse salary is $114, 412  and the average travel nurse salary per hour is $49.03. To break it down even further, the lowest average salary is $84,059, which is more than the average low for staff RNs.

Why Do Travel Nurses Get Paid More Than Staff Nurses

You might be wondering, “Why do travel nurses get paid more than staff nurses?” This is due to the flexibility that travel nurses give hospitals and facilities when they need to fill positions fast and for a short amount of time. For example, states all over the U.S. are experiencing a nursing shortage, so pay will be higher for certain assignments and specialties where demand is high so they can fill those gaps as soon as possible.

How Location Affects Travel Nurse Salary

Location is perhaps the largest factor in determining a travel nurse salary. The main reason for this is each location is tied to its average cost of living, which hugely influences salaries in that area.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the five top-paying states for registered nurses — California, Hawaii, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Alaska — align almost perfectly with the states with the highest travel nurse salary and cost of living — Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, New York, and Alaska.  Here’s a look at the average travel nurse salary, compared to the cost of living in these states paying nurses the most.

How Title Affects Travel Nurse Salary

Each travel nurse’s title (RN, LPN, etc.) and specialty (ER, L&D, etc.) are a pair of other major factors influencing salary. For example, when the average travel nurse salary is $114, 640, the average travel LPN/LVN salary is just $62,140. The higher RN rate is due largely to the higher standard of education, training, and certification expected from registered nurses.

On the flipside, nurse practitioners outearned RNs with an average salary of $130,395. Again, NPs have a higher standard of schooling (at minimum, an MSN) and training than RNs, thus the higher average salary.

Average Annual Pay Range
Average Cost of Living Per Year


$166,400 – $184,600



$119,600 – $132,080



$124,800 – $142,480

$53, 860


$135,200 – $149,500


New York

$109,200 – $142,740



How Specialty Affects Travel Nurse Salary

When it comes to travel nurse specialties, your pay often relates to your skill set, required certificates, the demand for your specialty, and other such factors. For example, ICU RNs are in extremely high demand and work in high-stakes roles. Their salaries reflect that demand and the specialized skill set it takes to deal with life-and-death situations. Plus, an ICU RN can step in for, say, a med surg RN, but such a swap doesn’t usually go both ways.

Becoming a travel nurse is one of the most rewarding and versatile career paths to take—not only does it allow you to follow your passion for helping others, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to earn more while giving you the flexibility to see places you’ve always dreamed of. If you’re ready to start making the most out of your career and compensation, now is the time to apply and work with a recruiter to find the best assignment for you!

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