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Travel nursing can be an extremely lucrative and rewarding career, but many nurses are asking, is travel nursing worth it?
My short answer is yes, travel nursing is worth it. However, due to the recent pay caps and internal travel nursing on the rise the full answer is a bit longer, and more complicated. Today I’m going to be exploring whether or not being a travel nurse is worth it, and what the pros and cons are.
My travel nurse journey started just about 2 years ago. And since, I have had no regrets. There have been a lot of new things I have seen, learned, and gotten to experience. However, there are some things that make me think whether or not it’s still worth it today?
Why Travel Nurse?
Travel nursing is becoming increasingly popular among younger nurses, as well as more senior nurses. It is a way for RN’s to make more money, have a more flexible schedule, and theoretically have a better career. While these can be true in some cases, it simply isn’t always the case.
Many people start travel nursing to make more money. Travel nurses can, on average, make around $2,500-5,000 per week, with some of the highest paid specialties reaching over $8,000 per week. This is a significant increase over the standard average nursing salary of $75,000 per year (source).
Additionally, travel nurses are typically on 13-week contracts. This means that they have a lot of flexibility between contracts or even when negotiating time off. A lot of nurses will have restrictions on how much vacation time they can take, so this is a big win in a staff nurse’s eyes.
Pros of Travel Nursing
- Typically A LOT more money
- Better schedule
- A lot of flexibility
- If you don’t like an assignment, you don’t have to go back
- Meet new people
- See new processes
- Potential travel far from your home
Cons of Travel Nursing
- No/minimal benefits
- Usually no retirement
- Usually no Paid Time Off (PTO)
- Put on hard assignments that none of the staff want
- Potentially given shifts none of the staff want
- Uncertainty of the next assignment
- Always working with new/different people
- Potential travel far from your home
The pros and cons of travel nursing are plentiful. You can easily argue both sides. But, in my experience I think that it is worth it to at least try.
One of the big misconceptions about travel nursing is that you have to “travel”. A lot of assignments are local. This means that you don’t have to travel very far. Although they are close, you probably won’t get to take advantage of some tax savings. But, you’ll still get paid more!
Is Travel Nursing Worth It (Long Answer)
In the end, is travel nursing worth it? Yes it is worth it for the improved lifestyle and monetary aspects. I recently got to meet up with some fellow classmates from nursing school, and every single one of them was travel nursing. Travel nursing has become a staple in the nurse community and vital for hospitals to operate.
It is crazy to think that none of my friends work regular staff jobs, but at the same time, that’s the way the market is going. Why work a staff job when you can get paid 5x-6x more for the same top?
The biggest reason people say is they have kids or a family. Well, you can easily work a local contract for more money and still see your family just as much or even more than you do now! From a retirement or benefits perspective, it sucks not having the lush hospital benefits we’ve become accustomed to. However, you make way more money, so just pay for them out of pocket.
At the end of the day, I don’t think travel nursing is for everyone. There are definitely good reasons why some people might not want to leave their positions. However, if you are even remotely thinking about attempting to travel nurse, then I would highly recommend trying it out.
Worse comes to worse, you can go right back to your old job or apply for one of the several thousands of other vacant nurse jobs. The best part about being a nurse is that we are in very high demand. So, you have a lot of negotiating power – use it!
If you are thinking about travel nursing and don’t know how to start, I wrote a big guide on How to Start Travel Nursing!