You’re staring at your travel nurse contract but aren’t excited about what you see. You’d like to change a few things, but don’t know if that is acceptable. 

You start worrying; your palms begin sweating and you decide to sign it. 

Stop right there. 

In your quest to become a travel nurse, you may have thought that you would simply have to accept whatever contract your travel nursing agency offered. The good news is, that’s not true. 

You can negotiate your travel nurse contract, but having a little knowledge and forethought is essential. 

Here are the top things to know when negotiating a travel nurse contract and some tips and tricks to help you as you negotiate.


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Negotiation Prep: 4 Questions To Ask Before Signing a Travel Nursing Contract

To negotiate a successful travel nurse contract, it’s essential to learn: 

  • What travel nurse contracts include
  • Why negotiations are necessary
  • When to begin negotiations; and
  • What can be negotiated

Let’s take a closer look at four questions to ask yourself before beginning negotiations. 


#1: What Is a Travel Nurse Contract and What Does It Include?

A travel nurse contract is a legally binding contract between a nurse and a travel nurse agency.  

 Among the contract’s terms and conditions are the nurse’s: 

Before signing the contract, travel nurses should: 

  • Carefully review it
  • Ask questions if anything is unclear; and 
  • Fully understand the terms and conditions.


#2: Why Is Negotiating Your Travel Nurse Contract Important?

Negotiating is extremely important for travel nurses for several reasons. 

The first benefit of negotiating salary is that you often get paid more. Who wouldn’t like to bring home a little more money on payday? 

The second reason for negotiating travel nursing salaries is that bill rates vary dramatically between jobs. Even though the same jobs are performed at the same hospitals, varying bill rates can occur.

Finally, travel nurses sign contracts with a variety of clauses, and negotiation can be used to get better benefits from these clauses. 

Some of the most common contract clauses include: 

  • Guaranteed hours 
  • Missed shift penalty
  • Cancellation penalty; and 
  • Non-compete. 


#3: When Should You Start Travel Nurse Contract Negotiation?

Negotiations are usually thought to occur at a certain point during the process. Most job seekers believe that after a few conversations, the recruiter: 

  • Discusses some job openings
  • Quotes some packages; and 
  • Negotiations begin.

Although this is one approach to negotiating, it is not the best. It is better to begin negotiating with a prospective employer before meeting them. 

Feel free to ask your recruiter about: 

  • Compensation offered
  • Number of interviews you will attend
  • Type of contract you will sign; and
  • Whether the agency will pay for housing and relocation

If you aren’t happy with the answers to these questions, negotiate. 


#4: What Parts of a Travel Nurse Contract Can Be Negotiated?

Some of the most common negotiation points include: 

  • Salary — Pro tip: Ask your recruiter for the lowest base pay possible since this portion of your salary will be taxed.  
  • Stipends — Your untaxed pay is where you make money. Housing and food are often included in stipends, known as “per diems.” Since you are an employee of the company working for a short period at another location, you will receive tax-free benefits. 
  • Housing — Sometimes, this is a huge deciding factor. Going to a beach or mountain location? You may want to consider whether the contract location is close to the sights or a specific neighborhood. 
  • Overtime — The importance of this will depend on the lifestyle you choose as a travel nurse. Overtime won’t matter much if you just want to work 36 hours and enjoy exploring your world. On the other hand, this is an important point to negotiate if you are planning on earning some extra money. 
  • Licensing Reimbursement — Your agency will often reimburse you for costs if you apply for a multi-state license. In some states, these costs can be high. If you incur licensing costs, ask your agency to reimburse you.

Looking for a travel nurse agency that puts your needs first? Look no further than Trusted Nurse Staffing. 

Our team will get to know you and your wants and needs. We will happily handle negotiations and find you the best travel nurse assignment. 

What are you waiting for? Using Pronto, you can search for jobs and find the perfect match for your lifestyle.


travel nursing contract tips


9 Travel Nurse Contract Tips for Successful Negotiation

#1: Know Your ‘True’ Rate of Pay

Negotiating your travel nurse salary requires an understanding of how you and your agency are paid. 

Before breaking down your pay, travel nurses are paid based on your agency’s contract with each facility. This contract contains a set number so no negotiation can occur directly with the hospital. 

Your agency breaks down the dollar amount you are paid into your: 

As a result, most agencies will combine the hourly rate with non-taxable items into a “blended” rate. To determine your pay, the blended rate can be calculated by dividing your non-taxable stipends by an hourly rate and adding it to your taxable base rate.


#2: Promote Your Value

Your value as a travel nurse is one of your most vital negotiating points. 

You are more likely to get a travel nurse contract you are happy with if your recruiter can demonstrate your value to the hospital or clinic. 

To promote your value, do not be shy about sharing your strengths. For example: 

  • Your work attendance is impeccable. You arrive on time and never leave early. If a shift must be missed, it is reported as far in advance and made up as soon as possible.
  • The work you do is done thoroughly and promptly.
  • Extra shifts are fine if you get a reasonable rate of pay.
  • You are prompt in reporting your time and never make hospital staff hunt you down for your time cards.  


#3: Be Flexible

Contract negotiations are just that: negotiations. Giving and taking are involved, as well as collaboration and flexibility.

As you work on an agreement with your travel staffing agency, remember that you and the agency are a team, and you both want what’s best for you and the hospital or clinic you will be assigned to.   


#4: Compare Blended Rates of Different Agencies

An excellent way to negotiate your salary is to compare the pay of one agency with that of another.

Agency A may offer a blended rate of $35/hr, while agency B may offer a blended rate of $39/hr. It may be possible to ask agency A if they can match agency B’s $39/hour price if they are the company you wish to work with. 


tips to negotiate a travel nurse contract


#5: Ask About Reimbursements and Benefits

To get the complete picture of your salary, it is essential to understand all the “extras” that come with your contract. Some jobs may not pay the highest salary but offer better …

  • Reimbursements
  • Benefits; and 
  • Stipends 

… to compensate for it.  

The cost of hiring new nurses is high, so many agencies provide reimbursements for things such as …

  • Subway passes
  • Licensing fees; and
  • Healthcare benefits

 … to keep their current nurses happy. 


#6: Explore Extension Bonus Options

When considering extending your current job, find out your options. 

Some hospitals and clinics offer bonuses to employees who extend their contracts, while others don’t. Many times there is often no additional money involved; sometimes, it is just a few weeks off. You might be surprised at how much this could affect your decision.

If you think you may stay somewhere for a while, asking your recruiter if that particular hospital or clinic offers extension bonuses would be a good idea.


#7: Be Specific

In negotiations, taking a hardline position and demanding more money per unit of work isn’t always the best course of action. While standing up for yourself may feel good, it doesn’t always achieve what you want.

Salary negotiations are no different. You could come across as unprofessional if you approach your recruiter or potential boss with a list of demands.

Instead, try approaching the conversation differently. Let your recruiter or potential boss know why you deserve more, followed by what you are looking for.


#8: Don’t Reveal Your Bottom Line

Negotiators often advise sticking to your bottom line. However, the problem is that this can be ineffective when negotiating travel nurse contracts.

For example, if you don’t have another opportunity, you might pass on an assignment that doesn’t fit your financial bottom line, but now you are left with a $0 salary. 

Be aware you will be asked about your bottom line by many recruiters. As a result, you may be offered contracts below your bottom line, but you won’t be consistently offered contracts right at your bottom line. 

Hold yourself to the line of what you need to make your travel nursing jobs tenable.


#9: Know It’s Okay To Say No

The first offer you receive can be tempting, especially when you are just starting out. However, that offer may not be suitable for you, either financially or otherwise.

For instance, a travel nurse contract would not be ideal if the cost of transportation overshadows your earnings once you arrive at the location.

Additionally, you might not want to take the job if the pay isn’t commensurate with your experience and what it entails. 

Advocate for yourself and your needs, and don’t take on travel nurse contracts that don’t fit you.


how to negotiate a travel nurse contract


Find the Best Travel Nurse Assignment and Contract Terms With Trusted Nurse Staffing

You can depend on Trusted Nurse Staffing to find you the right position and to guide you through the negotiation process. 

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you’re in good hands. We strive to deliver exceptional customer service and a personal experience at every step. 

We don’t treat you like just another number when you work with us. Our accessibility sets us apart from other staffing agencies, and we promise to be there whenever you need us. 

Contact us today, and let us tackle negotiations for you. 


travel nursing contract tips