What Is the Average Travel Nurse Salary? (2023)

By gabriel


According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average travel nurse salary in 2023 sits at about $51 per hour. That’s significantly higher than the average hourly rate of registered nurses, which is about $38 per hour. 

For most travel nurses, this rate translates to a weekly wage of about $1,800. Although most travel nurses make about $88,320 in average annual salary, some can earn upwards of $100,000.

Your exact take-home annual pay will depend on factors like the hours put in, bonuses, travel reimbursements, housing allowances, and more.


  • Hourly Average Wage $51 
  • Weekly Average Wage – $1,800
  • Average Annual Salary – $88,320

What Benefits Do Travel Nurses Get?

A travel nurse’s pay package comprises tons of extra benefits that may range from insurance covers, bonuses, travel reimbursements, housing allowances, free CEUs, and more. 

Here’s a quick look into the most common travel nurse benefits:

Travel Reimbursements

Owing to the ‘nomadic’ nature of their job, employers offer travel nurses a tax-free travel reimbursement to cover their travel costs to different towns, states, and in some cases, other countries to undertake their assignments.


The most common bonuses in travel nursing are sign-on, completion, retention, and sometimes referral bonuses.

As a result of the high demand for nurses, most travel nursing agencies pay travel nurses:

  • Sign-on bonuses when they undertake an assigned task. 
  • Completion bonuses when they finish the task. 
  • Retention bonuses to lure them into undertaking more tasks with a particular travel nurse agency.

Free Private Housing

It’s no news that housing can get pricey in most US cities and towns. With this, travel nurses receive a stipend from their employers to get accommodation near the healthcare facilities they work.

Free housing can either come as a physical residence or a remittance to get your accommodation

Insurance Covers

A travel nurse’s job suggests more professional risk and living expenses. To lessen this weight, travel nurses receive relatively broader insurance coverages, e.g., health, life insurance, vision, and dental covers. 

Plus, many travel nurses get a retirement plan option, usually the 401(k) cover.

What Are the Best Places to Work as a Travel Nurse in the USA?

Yes. Your travel nurse wage is highly dependent on the state and city you work. 

For example, California is a haven for travel nurses for its massive population, many healthcare facilities, high demand for nurses, and in turn, higher average travel nurse salaries. 

Other states with low nurse demand, like South Dakota, may not work out great for travel nurses. 

Depending on the time of the year, too, some states can be viable options for travel nurses. For instance, states that experience harsh winters can be a boon for nurses that may not mind relocating there during winter. 

The highest paying states may include states where there are nursing shortages. 

Top 5 Highest Paying Cities for a Travel Nurse

City Wage Per Hour Annual Salary
San Jose, California $64.48 $134,110
San Francisco, California $62.39 $129,780
Oakland, California $57.20 $118,971
Tanaina, Alaska $56.96 $118,482
Wasilla, Alaska $56.96 $118, 480

Top 5 Highest Paying States for a Travel Nurse

State Wage Per Hour Annual Salary
California $51.27 $106,650
Hawaii $48.42 $100,720
District of Columbia $44.99 $93,580
Massachusetts $44.60 $92,770
Oregon $44.32 $92,190

What Are the Highest Paying Travel Nursing Specialties Today?

Of course, not all travel nurses make the same amount of money. And nursing specialty is one of the key factors that determine how much money a travel nurse makes.

Generally, more in-demand specialties tend to attract higher pay. If you have a specialization in such an area, make sure to mention it in your travel nurse application.

Nursing Specialty Average Annual Salary
Operating Room Travel Nurse $139,220
ICU Travel Nurse $138,900
Medical – Surgery and Telemetry Nurses $124,190
Emergency Room $114,680
Labor and Delivery $114,680

Related Article: How much can I make being an ICU Traveling Nurse?

Pro Tips: How Can I Increase My Pay as a Travel Nurse?

Depending on the employer, most high-earning travel nurses use a combination of hacks and tips to make more money. Don’t worry; I’m here to guide you through them. 

Register With Multiple Agencies

Opting to work with multiple travel nursing agencies means you get to gauge and choose agencies that offer the best rates possible in specific areas. 

However, remember to stay cordial with every travel nursing agency you’re enrolled in, even if you turn down their offers.

Work Per Day, Pick Extra Shifts

Most travel nurses get hourly pay. However, some employers offer a per diem option, which generally tends to be a higher pay compared to hourly rates. While at it, you might also want to pick up extra shifts when you have some downtime.

Take On High-Demand/Rapid Response/Crisis Tasks

Well, a high-demand travel nursing assignment may need more effort. As a result, employers and local hospitals offer higher compensation for travel nurses willing to take on such tasks.

Specialize in an Area

Specialized travel nurses have better bargaining power and can demand better rates. To earn more and additional benefits, carve a travel nurse niche for yourself and explore broader possibilities in the labor market.

Work Towards Multiple State Licenses

Think of it like spreading your odds: the more state licenses you have, the more areas you can work. Most healthcare staffing agencies allow nurses to continue their education online for free to acquire multiple licenses.

Travel Nurse Salary: Conclusion

A travel nursing career is undeniably an excellent avenue to earn more money as a nurse while still getting to visit new, cool places. The average annual salary of a travel nurse is usually higher than the average salaries of other RNs.

Registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or LPNs can use travel nursing as an easy way to build up their resume, with tons of experience and skills gained from working in other healthcare facilities in different parts of the country. 

Better still, the short-term nature of travel nurse assignments also helps kill the monotony that may come with working at a single health station for years.

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