Wondering how your travel nurse salary stacks up to average rates across the country? We've got that data for you.
We analyzed public listings of travel nursing pay packages from July 2019-1 September 2021 to bring you insights on the current job market.
Welcome to our all-new travel nurse salary interactive pay explorer!
In this ultimate guide you’ll see:
- The Highest Paying States for Travel Nurses
- The Highest Paying Travel Nurse Specialties
- A Travel Nurse Pay Breakdown
- How to Find the Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs
- The Top Travel Nursing Agencies with Pay Transparency
Check out our never-before-seen findings.
Highest Paying States for Travel Nurses
Which states are really worth the extra license fees? Let's dig into some data to find out.
Our map shows the highest paying states for travel nurses since July 2019, including crisis rate market fluctuations.
For more specific travel nurse salary by state, scroll through our table highlighting the highest paying states with detailed pay trends and job availability.
For example, 68% of California travel nurse salaries are $2,137.63 +/- $541.10 = pay range of $1,596.53 - $2,678.73. We warned you we're nerds!
As you scroll through 51 states (including Washington DC) you'll notice a large standard deviation. This is larger than average due to the crisis rate fluctuations in the current job market.
View job availability per state in the "job count" column. This tracks our count and therefore doesn't encapsulate the entire market, but it's a very good snapshot of each state's job availability.
Highest Paying States for Travel Nurses
|State||Weekly Pay Average (36 hrs)||Standard Deviation||Job Count|
|District of Columbia||$1,970.94||$498.04||8,124|
Curious what the market looked like pre-COVID19?
Below is a compilation of the states that offered the highest pay from July 2019 - September 2021. Compare this list to our above map and table to see what difference crisis rates made.
Top 5 Highest Paying States for Travel Nurses (Pre-Covid19)
Consistently has the best pay and the most jobs by a long shot.
Both inside and outside of the pandemic.
- New Jersey
Solid opportunties for both pay and job availability.
- Washington D.C.
Great income, but fewer job openings.
Decent pay and lots of jobs, despite reputation for low rates.
Current rates lower than pre-covid19.
Regularly pays above average with frequent job openings.
Highest Travel Nurse Salaries by Metropolitan Area
Not sure which areas of the country to start searching for good pay?
We've got a summary here to get you started. Get even more location-specific data on high paying opportunities using our interactive pay explorer.
Top 5 Highest Travel Nurse Salaries by Metropolitan Area
Go after high pay AND lots of job openings in these locations:
Holds 9 of our top 10 spots for highest-paying metro areas
- East Coast
New York City-Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC
- Pacific Northwest
St Louis, Chicago
Pro Tip: Investing in a California license is worth your time and money if you're looking for LOTS of job options.
Highest Paying Travel Nurse Specialties
Feast your eyes on the largest travel nurse specialty comparison available including more than 130 specialties.
Our interactive table shows nationwide pay averages including standard deviation for you to get an accurate overview.
|Travel Nursing Specialty||Average Weekly Pay||Weekly Pay St. Deviation||# Jobs Observed|
|Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (NP / NP)||$2,809.28||$691.31||47|
|Doctor of Pharmacy (Allied / PharmD)||$2,522.00||$457.34||240|
|Coronary Care Unit (RN / CCU)||$2,385.11||$618.36||9,872|
|Physical Therapy (RN / PT)||$2,269.57||$693.33||113|
|Neurology Intensive Care Unit (RN / Neuro ICU)||$2,254.73||$647.10||2,571|
|Intensive Care Unit (RN / ICU)||$2,239.02||$689.53||325,717|
|Registered Nurse First Assistant (RN / RNFA)||$2,229.86||$554.99||1,396|
|Step Down Unit (RN / SDU)||$2,225.49||$628.12||41,637|
|Urgent Care (RN / Urgent Care)||$2,222.55||$688.12||166|
|Direct Observation Unit (RN / DOU)||$2,210.03||$531.41||1,261|
|Electrophysiology Lab (RN / EP Lab)||$2,196.65||$467.52||534|
|Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (RN / CVICU)||$2,181.57||$612.12||27,054|
|Pediatric Oncology (RN / Peds Onc)||$2,173.38||$431.68||47|
|Burn Intensive Care Unit (RN / BICU)||$2,173.34||$630.96||194|
|Cardiac Cath Lab (RN / Cath Lab)||$2,166.36||$472.29||43,111|
|Nurse Manager (RN / RN Mgr)||$2,149.13||$603.73||357|
|Cardiovascular Operating Room (RN / CVOR)||$2,143.15||$488.93||14,088|
|Medical Surgical Telemetry (RN / Med Surg Tele)||$2,121.69||$603.95||63,258|
|Public Health (RN / Pub Hlth)||$2,121.44||$432.66||133|
|Interventional Radiology (RN / IR)||$2,114.48||$440.14||10,411|
|Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (RN / PICU)||$2,090.70||$464.46||16,149|
|Trauma Intensive Care Unit (RN / TICU)||$2,089.91||$547.05||270|
|Emergency Department (RN / ED)||$2,081.00||$562.86||229,086|
|Gastrointestinal Lab (RN / GI Lab)||$2,080.39||$424.52||1,772|
|Labor & Delivery (RN / L&D)||$2,067.05||$466.18||108,728|
|Cardiology (RN / Cardio)||$2,066.49||$522.14||652|
|Operating Room (RN / OR)||$2,060.65||$508.29||172,338|
|Surgical Intensive Care Unit (RN / SICU)||$2,055.10||$564.97||1,341|
|Bone Marrow Transplant (RN / BMT)||$2,032.93||$440.25||438|
|Telemetry (RN / Tele)||$2,028.49||$590.98||148,767|
|Vaccinations (RN / Vax)||$2,022.11||$277.52||137|
|Nurse Educator (RN / Education)||$2,010.74||$453.46||48|
|Electrophysiology Lab Technician (Allied / EP Lab Tech)||$2,005.51||$409.34||82|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RN / NICU)||$2,004.47||$423.89||26,280|
|Case Management (RN / CM)||$1,990.65||$429.86||20,249|
|Pediatric Operating Room (RN / Peds OR)||$1,983.17||$437.46||424|
|OB/GYN (RN / OB/GYN)||$1,979.30||$441.03||2,845|
|Progressive Care Unit (RN / PCU)||$1,979.27||$549.70||68,700|
|Post Anesthesia Care Unit (RN / PACU)||$1,971.31||$453.72||59,901|
|Pediatric Emergency Department (RN / Peds ED)||$1,967.05||$493.84||1,565|
|Orthopedic (RN / Ortho)||$1,964.97||$533.00||5,795|
|Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (RN / CRNA)||$1,961.76||$712.75||72|
|Utilization Review (RN / UR)||$1,958.85||$346.52||338|
|Neurology (RN / Neuro)||$1,955.55||$519.75||2,302|
|Infection Control (RN / Infection)||$1,952.94||$419.35||215|
|Wound Care (RN / Wound)||$1,952.93||$350.71||1,566|
|Cardiac Cath Lab Technician (Allied / Cath Lab Tech)||$1,946.53||$297.99||9,455|
|Medical Surgical (RN / Med Surg)||$1,946.09||$567.59||299,900|
|Radiotherapy (Allied / Radiotherapy)||$1,940.61||$344.55||93|
|Patient Care Coordinator (RN / PCC)||$1,936.48||$643.70||49|
|Perioperative (RN / Peri-op)||$1,934.30||$370.93||2,498|
|Float Pool (RN / Float)||$1,927.73||$533.97||1,079|
|Endoscopy (RN / Endo)||$1,909.93||$421.67||11,274|
|Oncology (RN / Onc)||$1,909.33||$452.41||30,141|
|Pediatrics (RN / Peds)||$1,872.33||$422.47||14,805|
|Antepartum (RN / Antepartum)||$1,870.80||$368.55||802|
|Postpartum (RN / PP)||$1,867.92||$390.54||9,867|
|Dialysis (RN / Dialysis)||$1,860.34||$495.43||15,701|
|Cardiovascular Operating Room Technician (RN / CVOR Tech)||$1,855.77||$296.51||45|
|Echocardiography Technician (Allied / Echo Tech)||$1,851.04||$241.50||3,183|
|Radiology (RN / Radiology)||$1,848.50||$359.62||4,879|
|Respiratory Therapist (Allied / RT)||$1,836.86||$564.89||45,920|
|Pediatric Post Anesthesia Care Unit (RN / Peds PACU)||$1,832.60||$258.29||71|
|Vascular Technologist (Allied / RVT)||$1,832.03||$244.18||94|
|Infusion Therapy (RN / Infusion)||$1,829.56||$463.50||502|
|Antepartum (Allied / Antepartum)||$1,826.58||$931.22||237|
|Nuclear Medicine Technician (Allied / Nuc Med Tech)||$1,826.52||$213.24||377|
|Interventional Radiology Technician (Allied / IR Tech)||$1,824.54||$283.30||6,123|
|Ultrasound Technician (Allied / Ultrasound Tech)||$1,819.15||$225.13||11,470|
|Occupational Health (RN / Occ Health)||$1,808.47||$372.63||251|
|Mammography Tech (Allied / Mammo Tech)||$1,801.48||$253.16||767|
|Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician (Allied / MRI Tech)||$1,789.08||$227.51||2,957|
|Hospice (RN / Hospice)||$1,787.17||$352.02||3,792|
|Outpatient Clinic (RN / Outpatient)||$1,784.14||$407.08||6,294|
|Rehabilitation (RN / Rehab)||$1,780.10||$527.42||13,698|
|Home Health (RN / HH)||$1,771.63||$334.49||22,386|
|Computed Tomography Technologist (Allied / CT Tech)||$1,766.63||$248.19||11,974|
|Cardiovascular Operating Room (Allied / CVOR)||$1,756.77||$412.91||47|
|Psychiatric (RN / Psych)||$1,750.58||$354.17||36,472|
|School Psychologist, Certified (School Services / Psych)||$1,746.50||$461.67||754|
|Skilled Nursing Facility (RN / SNF)||$1,713.84||$461.69||11,288|
|Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Allied / LCSW)||$1,707.29||$271.06||862|
|Long Term Acute Care (RN / LTAC)||$1,704.63||$472.47||5,267|
|Vaccinations (LPN / LVN / Vax)||$1,698.12||$339.77||133|
|Radiology Technician (Allied / Rad Tech)||$1,690.81||$296.59||2,327|
|EKG / Tele Technician (Allied / EKG / Tele Tech)||$1,679.49||$413.31||131|
|Behavioral Health (RN / Behavior)||$1,675.27||$222.16||971|
|Medical Tech / Medical Laboratory Scientist / Clinical Laboratory Scientist (Allied / MT / MLS / CLS)||$1,660.55||$321.13||22,041|
|Certified Surgical First Assistant (Allied / SFA)||$1,660.51||$264.86||43|
|Ambulatory Care (RN / Amb)||$1,649.54||$308.06||1,212|
|Urology (RN / Urology)||$1,629.24||$186.70||80|
|Radiology Technologist (Allied / Rad Technologist)||$1,617.14||$238.18||2,977|
|Rehabilitation (Allied / Rehab)||$1,610.40||$515.44||558|
|Physical Therapy (Allied / PT)||$1,607.75||$181.83||21,440|
|Corrections (RN / Corr)||$1,591.21||$251.36||319|
|Registered Dietician (Allied / RD)||$1,586.45||$295.00||47|
|Speech Language Pathologist (Allied / SLP)||$1,580.66||$179.04||20,293|
|Cardiovascular Technician (Allied / CV Tech)||$1,574.87||$363.17||42|
|Surgical Technologist (Allied / Surg Technologist)||$1,570.30||$326.25||3,238|
|Occupational Therapy (Allied / OT)||$1,560.01||$182.03||7,381|
|Electroencephalographic technician (Allied / EEG Tech)||$1,542.28||$218.43||483|
|Cardiovascular Operating Room Technician (Allied / CVOR Tech)||$1,542.11||$342.38||1,445|
|Histotechnician (Allied / HT)||$1,530.89||$176.68||485|
|Rehabilitation Therapy (Allied / Rehab Therapy)||$1,516.59||$171.13||173|
|Long Term Care (RN / LTC)||$1,513.47||$385.79||4,802|
|Special Education Teacher (School Services / Special Ed)||$1,510.17||$327.87||116|
|Endoscopy Technician (Allied / Endo Tech)||$1,495.20||$356.25||187|
|Long Term Acute Care (LPN / LVN / LTAC)||$1,489.47||$331.60||341|
|Obstetric Technician (Allied / OB Tech)||$1,464.27||$318.91||229|
|Medical Surgical (LPN / LVN / Med Surg)||$1,436.56||$325.78||724|
|Anesthesia Technician (Allied / Anesthesia Tech)||$1,414.55||$241.03||281|
|Vaccinations (Allied / Vax)||$1,414.48||$292.45||467|
|Psychiatric (LPN / LVN / Psych)||$1,412.96||$206.89||225|
|Operating Room Technician (Allied / OR Tech)||$1,377.24||$287.82||56,527|
|Home Health (LPN / LVN / HH)||$1,340.34||$192.39||211|
|Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (Allied / SLPA)||$1,290.93||$264.71||47|
|Skilled Nursing Facility (LPN / LVN / SNF)||$1,286.91||$233.37||952|
|Long Term Care (LPN / LVN / LTC)||$1,268.16||$226.24||861|
|Allied Health (Allied / Allied)||$1,225.42||$454.09||117|
|LPN / LVN (LPN / LVN / LPN / LVN)||$1,208.47||$253.38||1,768|
|Pharmacy Technician (Allied / Pharm Tech)||$1,196.86||$379.09||532|
|Outpatient Clinic (LPN / LVN / Outpatient)||$1,194.22||$362.01||1,214|
|Sterile Processing Technician (Allied / SPT)||$1,140.66||$178.75||7,847|
|Corrections (LPN / LVN / Corr)||$1,135.49||$200.82||55|
|Physical Therapy Assistant (Allied / PTA)||$1,129.90||$254.06||1,026|
|Phlebotomy (Allied / Phlebotomist)||$1,121.70||$256.04||580|
|Dialysis Technician (Allied / Dialysis Tech)||$1,100.39||$147.15||80|
|Medical Surgical (Allied / Med Surg)||$1,069.59||$306.77||187|
|Occupational Therapy Assistant (Allied / OTA)||$1,050.51||$207.57||354|
|Skilled Nursing Facility (Allied / SNF)||$998.14||$262.54||322|
|Long Term Care (CNA / LTC)||$947.97||$271.02||117|
|Certified Medical Assistant (Allied / CMA)||$921.09||$253.08||587|
|Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA / CNA)||$782.06||$194.17||434|
We removed specialties with very low job counts and supervisory roles. This keeps our data relevant to the travel nursing specialties with high pay AND regular job availability.
For a different view, we've got an interactive bubble chart displaying the highest paying travel nurse specialties by their job availability. Hover over the bubbles to identify the specialties.
Not all specialties have a regular high need for travelers. For example, RN's in Electrophysiology Lab (EP Lab) regularly have higher pay offerings, but don't have the plentiful job options that ICU or L&D nurses have.
If you aspire to work consistently in travel healthcare, gain experience in a specialty with higher job availability.
Travel Nurse Pay Breakdown
How do travel nurses get paid? Understanding this will help you compare pay offers and spot the jobs that are worth your relocation.
Travel nurses are typically hired as contracted temporary employees of travel nursing agencies, getting paid on a weekly basis to work in a variety of facilities.
The most common travel nurse contracts offered are for hospital inpatient units. These usually commit you to work:
- 12 hours/shift
- 3 shifts/week
- 36 hours/week
- 13 weeks total
- 468 work hours total
Our interactive pay explorer standardizes all pay package data around these contract hours to accurately compare numbers.
How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?
A Pay Package Example
Here's an average offer for a Medical-Surgical Nurse working 36 hours/week:
- $350 M&IE (Meals & Incidental Expenses) - Weekly
- $2,400 Housing Stipend - Monthly
- $500 Travel Reimbursement - One Time
- $20 Base Rate - Hourly
Let's break this offer down to view your potential pay per week and per hour. Convert all parts of your pay to a standardized rate, then combine to calculate.
|Pay Package Offer||Pay per Week (36 hrs)||Pay per Hour|
|$350 M&IE Weekly||$350||$9.72|
|$2,400 Housing Stipend Monthly||$600||$16.67|
|$500 Travel Reimbursement One-time||$38.46||$1.07|
|$20 Base Rate Hourly||$720||$20|
|Total Gross Pay (Pre-Taxes)||$1,708.46||$47.46|
Keep in mind there are several more deductions that may come out of your travel nursing paycheck:
- Taxes based on your tax home rates
- Agency health insurance - rates can start at $20/week (optional)
- Agency 401k retirement plans (optional)
Taxable vs Non-Taxable Pay
Following on from our pay package example above, your travel nurse pay is made up of taxable and non-taxable income.
|Weekly Income per Offer||Taxable?|
|$350 M&IE (Meals & Incidental Expenses)||N|
|$600 Housing Stipend||N|
|$38.46 Travel Reimbursement||N|
|$720 Hourly Base Rate||Y|
|$1,708.46 Total||$720 Taxed|
Notice that almost half of this pay package is not taxed. Cha-ching!
Non-taxable reimbursements, or "Per Diem" pay, are based on daily maximum rates set by the government. Check out gsa.gov's Per Diem rates for your next contract location - they even have a mobile app for convenience.
Travel nurses are eligible for Per Diem non-taxable pay reimbursements when working away from your tax home. You must duplicate living/housing expenses per IRS rules.
You can still get temporary assignments without travel, the difference is your income will be fully taxed.
To get the full scoop on managing your taxes as a medical traveler visit TravelTax's site. The CEO, Joseph Smith, is a former travel respiratory therapist turned accountant.
Find the Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs
How can you filter through the tons of job boards to find and land the highest paying travel nursing jobs? Our mission at StellarNurse is to solve this problem.
After analyzing the market for the past year, here's our best advice:
- Get the market's best offers, customized and delivered to your inbox
- Use our interactive pay explorer to check pay ranges, job availability and agencies for your specialty across the country
- Work with multiple travel nursing agencies for options - focus on agencies that regularly offer above-average pay with lots of jobs for your specialty
- Keep current state licenses for the locations that have your specialty's best pay and highest job availability
- Breakdown pay offers to weekly or hourly income to accurately compare
- Prioritize high pay - above personal convenience, best locations, nicest recruiter or agency loyalty
- Move fast for Crisis or Rapid Response rate offers
In a nutshell, stay flexible. The best offers are competitive and often need help fast. Be ready to adjust plans quickly, coordinate with a new agency or arrange travel to an unexpected location.
Top Travel Nursing Agencies with Pay Transparency
As advocates for pay transparency, we're giving a shout out to the travel nursing agencies that publish pay details clearly on their websites or public job boards.
Here are the most transparent agencies according to our data set:
|Top Travel Nursing Agencies with Pay Transparency|
|American Mobile Healthcare|
|Republic Health Resources|
|Advanced Travel Nursing|
|MedPro Healthcare Staffing|
|Travel Nurse Across America|
|Fusion Medical Staffing|
|Cross Country Staffing|
|Ardor Health Solutions|
|Wellspring Nurse Source|
|Travel Nurses Inc.|
|Medical Staffing Solutions|
|Prime Time Healthcare|
|Aureus Medical Group|
|Skyline Med Staff|
|Accountable Healthcare Staffing|
|Nurse First Travel Agency|
|Advantis Medical Staffing|
A couple of travel nursing focused marketing agencies do a great job posting clear pay rates and are worth a special mention: Wanderly.us and Vivian Health App.
We only included travel nursing agencies that publish their pay package rates, and strongly encourage all agencies to do so.
If you’re an agency and don’t see your name, contact us to get your data added!
Our Data Sources
All the data collected and consolidated by StellarNurse is publicly available on the named travel nursing agency’s website or Google jobs listings.
We'll be publishing more technical details on our GitHub in the near future.
Dropping the Mic 🖐🎤
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Our current priority is to help as many nurses as possible while we build the full version of StellarNurse - your transparent, nurse-led travel nursing data company.