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How much money do travel nurses make? What is a travel nurse salary? Today we’ll be deep-diving into what goes into a travel nurse’s pay, salary, and how much money they make!
If you want to start travel nurses, check out our guide on How to Start Travel Nursing. Travel nurses are some of the most well paid RN’s in the field. Why? Because nurses are in demand, and hospitals are willing to pay big money to fulfill staffing requirements.
Travel nursing can be difficult due to the consistently changing environment, new work places, and difficulty of tasks. However, with a bit of practice and confidence, nurses can not only earn more money, but provide a valuable service for a hospital’s community.
In this post, we’ll be going over several different aspects of how much money travel nurses make. Firstly, we’ll be going over what a travel nursing paycheck and contract look like. Then, we’ll be divulging exactly how much money you can expect to make before and after taxes (gross and net). Additionally, we’ll explore retirement, healthcare and other costs associated with taking an assignment. Finally, we’ll give you our thoughts on whether or not travel nursing is worth it.
How Much Money Do Travel Nurses Make?
Travel nurses, on average, can make anywhere from around $1,500 to almost $10,000 per week on the high end. During tougher pandemic periods, there have even been some travel nurse assignments that topped over $15,000 per week!
Although some assignments aren’t that high anymore, travel nurses can still expect a higher than normal average pay. While assignment pay rates can range based on the geographic location of the assignment, they are still higher than an average salary in that region.
For example, in Ohio, the average registered nurse salary is around $66,820 per year (or $38.66/hr for a 36-hour work week) [source]. However, an average travel assignment in Ohio (at the time of writing), is paying around $2839.72 per week plus a $1057.00 per week housing stipend. We’ll go into what these numbers mean, but on average it’s around $71/hr with an additional housing stipend!
How Do Travel Nurses Get Paid (Pay Stub Example)?
So, there is a variety of ways that travel nurses get paid. Depending on what type of agency you work with will determine how your pay will be divided. In this example, there are a few things we should go over to better understand travel nurse pay.
Firstly, there is your regular pay or in other words your hourly pay (36.38 hours * $62/hr = $2,255.56, after taxes it’s $1566.19). Then you have your travel expenses (which are not taxed – $1302.00). The travel expenses are predetermined per city by the city itself. So, after both the total net weekly pay is $2868.19 (also including call hours). If this was for the whole year, the total annual salary would total to: $170,762 pre-tax, or $137,664 post-tax.
Travel nurses are then paid that amount by the agency not the hospital. Remember, travel nurses are employed for the agency not the hospital.
How Much Taxes Do Travel Nurses Pay?
What taxes come out of a travel nurses pay? Well, as mentioned before, you will only pay taxes on your taxable income amount. This is typically your hourly pay, any call pay, or any overtime/holiday pay. The travel expenses or any other reimbursements will not be taxed.
The actual tax amount depends on what your income level is, write-offs, and other income/living information [read more]. But, for example, taxes for this pay stub came out to around 27% taken out after pre-tax deductions.
Do You Always Get a Tax-Free Living Stipend?
Travel nurses won’t always get a tax-free living stipend.
Nurses who live within 50-75 miles of the travel contract hospital typically will not receive a tax-free stipend. Why? Because it’s considered “too close” in proximity to your tax home. While this mileage will vary from contract to contract, you shouldn’t expect to see a housing stipend unless you’re traveling a greater distance than around 50 miles.
Why Do Travel Nurses Make So Much Money?
Why do travel nurses make so much money? Well, this is for several reasons.
Number one is supply and demand. Any hospital that needs travel nurses has a supply problem and is at an increased demand, thus the increased wages will hopefully drive nurses to come help out.
Number two is the travel stipends. Travel stipends are tax free and fairly generous when it comes to supply nurses with enough funds to live. A lot of nurses will find unique ways to live affordably and bank a majority of the tax-free pay.
Number three is travel RN’s are temporary employees. This isn’t a full-time job in a sense that you will be at the hospital for years. It is a 3-9 month fulfillment of a position.