Why Do Travel Nurses Get Paid More? - Trusted Nurse Staffing 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Travel nursing is all the rage. 

With the opportunity to explore new places, fine-tune your skills, and choose when and where you work — what’s not to love?

But did you know that in addition to these other amazing perks, hitting the road as a travel nurse, can also mean an increase in pay?

It’s true. 

Keep reading to find out why travel nurses are paid so much, plus some other great benefits of travel nursing that aren’t found in a paycheck.


why do travel nurses make so much money


Table of Contents



Why Do Travel Nurses Make More? 8 Reasons Travel Nurses Earn More Money

While travel nurses and staff nurses:

  • Have the same requirements
  • Perform the same duties; and 
  • Work in the same environments

… when it comes to income potential, travel nurses are the hands-down winners.

“Why do travel nurses get paid more?” 

The truth is that there’s no one answer. Let’s take a close-up look at eight reasons why travel nurses make so much more money than traditional nurses.

Whether you’re new to travel nursing or have been on the road for years, if you’re ready to earn a top travel nurse salary, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help. We have a wide variety of placements for nurses in all 50 states and would love to help you find the travel nursing job of your dreams.


why do travel nurses make more


#1: Nursing Shortages

Many states experience nursing shortages due to … 

  • The rising demand to provide care for the aging U.S. population
  • A high nurse turnover rate
  • The large number of senior nurses approaching retirement age
  • A lack of educators in the nursing field
  • Staff nurse burnout

… and travel nurses are willing to step in and meet these needs. 

According to NurseJournal, the eight states with the highest need for nurses include:

  1. Utah — 7.26 nurses per 1000 people
  2. Georgia — 7.31 nurses per 1000 people
  3. Texas — 7.47 nurses per 1000 people
  4. Hawaii — 7.63 nurses per 1000 people 
  5. Virginia — 7.76 nurses per 1000 people
  6. Idaho — 7.86 nurses per 1000 people
  7. Nevada — 7.92 nurses per 1000 people
  8. Oklahoma — 7.96 nurses per 1000 people


#2: Specialty Skills

Travel nurses are willing to accept assignments in hard-to-fill specialties. Those with specialized skills can often earn higher salaries due to a high demand for the skill, or the need for additional training or experience. 

Specialty skills that may offer higher pay for travel nurses include: 

  • Critical care
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics
  • Intensive care unit 
  • Emergency room
  • Labor and delivery; and 
  • Psychiatric


#3: Short-Term Needs

Staff nurses generally fill long-term openings in medical facilities, and typically work in the same position until they decide to move on. 

Travel nurses, on the other hand, take on short-term assignments and may work for several facilities in a year. 

Travel nurses may fill in during:

  • Holidays
  • Maternity leave
  • Short-term disability leave
  • Vacations; or
  • Times of widespread illness

Their ability to accept short-term assignments means travel nurses are able to fill the higher-paying open positions without making the usual long-term commitment.


#4: Crisis and Rapid Response Assignments

Crisis and rapid response assignments boast some of the highest pay rates in the travel nursing industry. To take one of these positions, a travel nurse has to be packed and ready to go at nearly a moment’s notice — generally within two weeks.

Travel nurses accepting these assignments often have much more limited options in terms of location and assignment length, with many crises and rapid response assignments being shorter than the usual 13-week assignment.

Some examples of crisis and rapid response assignments include: 

  • A natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado
  • Unexpected census spikes
  • National pandemics, like COVID-19
  • Unit openings
  • EMR upgrades; or
  • Staff shortages

With the quick turnaround required for these positions, it is absolutely crucial that you have your … 

  • Credentials
  • Tests
  • Licenses; and 
  • Other documents

… in order and ready to submit to the travel nursing agency as quickly as possible to reap the benefits of top pay.


why are travel nurses paid so much


#5: Benefits, Stipends, and Bonuses

Travel nurses have access to all kinds of benefits and bonuses that increase their overall pay. 

But it’s important to know that each travel nursing agency offers different bonuses and benefits, so this is one reason you want to compare agencies before deciding who you’ll travel with.

A great thing about travel nursing is that you receive stipends for your:

  • Housing
  • Meals; and
  • Travel

You’ll also receive bonuses that may include: 

  • Sign-on and completion bonuses
  • Hospital bonuses
  • Agency bonuses
  • Retention bonuses
  • Referral bonuses
  • Loyalty program; and
  • Welcome gift box

And don’t forget about the benefits. Keep in mind that these will vary between agencies, but at Trusted Nurse Staffing, we offer the best benefits in the industry, including:

  • Employee-sponsored Blue Cross & Blue Shield health insurance 
  • Guardian dental and vision insurance 
  • Portable permanent whole life insurance
  • License, certification, and CEU reimbursement
  • And much more


#6: Location

Pay for travel nurses varies widely depending on location and can change depending on the need of the moment. To boost your earning potential, the cost of living may be the best factor to use when considering your location and salary for a traveling nurse assignment.

Currently, the six U.S. cities with the highest pay for travel nurses include

  1. San Jose, CA — $2,444 per week
  2. Jackson, WY — $2,428 per week
  3. Oakland, CA — $2,418 per week
  4. Vallejo, CA — $2,376 per week
  5. Hayward, NY — $2,366 per week
  6. Seattle, WA — $2,363 per week

Would you like to find out more about each state’s … 

  • Pay
  • Licensing requirements and fees
  • Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) status; and
  • CEU requirements?

Check out Trusted Nurse Staffing’s Travel Nursing State Guide for all the important details.


why do travel nurses make more


#7: High Demand

Nurses always have, and always will be, in demand. 

They’re the backbone of the healthcare industry, and the wheels of the system would grind to a halt without their skill, knowledge, and compassion.

However, in the coming years, the demand for nurses may become even higher. According to a health industry survey, 34% of nurses were planning to leave their current role in 2022, with 32% planning to leave the profession entirely through retirement or for other reasons. 

The United States Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2060, one in four Americans will be over the age of 60. This aging population will require more nursing professionals to handle the demand for elderly healthcare

Add to that, that an estimated half of the American population suffers from at least one chronic illness (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, etc.) and nurses can rest assured they’ll have a place in the American healthcare system for many years to come.


#8: Hospital Cost Efficiency

Finally, travel nurses may make more money simply due to the cost-effectiveness of their positions.

Often, it’s more efficient for a healthcare facility to pay a higher salary to a short-term traveling nurse than it is to offer large bonuses or pay increases to permanent staff nurses. 

Instead of signing a staff nurse to a lengthy contract, hiring traveling nurses allows the health care facilities to hire specifically for the skill that is needed — only for the time it is needed. This is especially helpful for filling: 

  • Short-term staffing needs, such as vacations, illnesses, or maternity leave
  • Difficult to fill positions, including specialized nursing fields such as psychiatric, pediatric, or dialysis


why do travel nurses get paid more


Travel Nurse Pay vs. Staff Nurse Pay


Travel Nurse Pay

The estimated average pay for a travel nurse is $102,474 per year. That amount will vary, of course, depending on the specialty you choose.

Why else might you decide to be a travel nurse? 

Multiple reasons, including the ability to:

  • See the world
  • Experience the excitement of a new position several times a year
  • Meet new people
  • Experience diverse cultures
  • Work in a wide variety of health settings
  • Reap great benefits; and
  • Receive top pay


Staff Nurse Pay

The estimated average pay for a staff nurse is in the U.S. $88,151 per year.

What are some reasons you’d choose to be a staff nurse? 

Maybe you want to:

  • Stick to a regular schedule
  • Establish a home base
  • Hone your specialty
  • Move up the career ladder; and
  • Establish solid, long-term relationships with your coworkers


Travel Nurse Benefits Not Found in a Paycheck

As with most things in life, all travel nurse benefits aren’t measured in monetary value.

Travel nursing brings along with it a whole host of other exciting benefits, like

  • Increasing your confidence — Working with new people in unfamiliar places requires you to step outside your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you become in your ability to perform anywhere as a nurse.
  • Expanding your resume — Having the opportunity to work in specialty areas you may not have had the opportunity to explore as a staff nurse.
  • Gaining valuable hands-on nursing experience — Getting to work with healthcare professionals and patients in a wide variety of medical settings and cultures.


Choose Trusted Nurse Staffing To Find Your Dream Job and Exceptional Pay

If you’re ready to jump into the exciting, high-paying career of travel nursing, look no further than Trusted Nurse Staffing.

We provide nurses with a broad range of staffing opportunities, including:

  • Local or travel assignments
  • Permanent placement
  • Temp to perm; and 
  • Per diem

And our goal is to deliver exceptional customer service and a personal experience every step of the way. 

With Trusted Nurse staffing, you’re not just a number. We promise to be there for you whenever you need us — to help you navigate the intricacies of traveling and be the best clinician you can be.

It’s easy to get started with us by simply searching for travel nursing jobs on our Pronto app. Once a position catches your eye, one of our recruiters will get in touch with you and you’ll be on your way to the dream job of a lifetime.


why do travel nurses make more