Healthcare Recruiter Making $300K Goes Viral on TikTok, Is it True?

9 Min Read Published December 29, 2022
Healthcare Recruiter Making $300K Goes Viral on TikTok, Is it True?

A TikTok video posted by @americanincome—which purportedly interviews real people in public about their jobs and income levels—has gone viral for featuring a woman who reported that she makes $300,000 annually for her job as a healthcare recruiter. 

@americanincome Miami,Florida📍#healthcare #medical #career #advice #motivation #rolltide #miami #florida ♬ original sound - American Income

The woman explains that she only has three years of healthcare recruiting with a prior background in PR and fell into her career completely “by chance,” after a friend hooked her up with the gig. Her undergraduate also doesn’t directly correlate to her current job - she graduated from the University of Alabama with a journalism degree. 

The video has been shared far and wide by both nurses, fellow recruiters, and those looking to break into the industry. But despite its popularity, people are wondering: is it actually true? Can healthcare recruiters really make $300K annually? What about travel nurse recruiters? has the answers to those questions below.

>> Click here to see available high-paying travel nurse opportunities!


What is Healthcare Recruiting?

Healthcare recruiters are professionals who help staffing agencies recruit healthcare professionals to fill the needs of their partnering hospitals and healthcare facilities. Hospitals in need of temporary staff will call staffing agencies that employ recruiters who will then match the needs of the hospitals with available healthcare professionals they work with, or reach out to find new employees with the needed skill sets. 

Some of the tasks a typical healthcare recruiter will do include:

  • Finding healthcare professionals for new roles in areas such as hospitals, home care, outpatient clinics, surgery centers, and more

  • Screening and interviewing candidates

  • Serving as a liaison between the company and potential employee

  • Helping new travel nurses navigate roles and getting set up in their companies 

There are healthcare recruiters who may specialize in an area, such as only working with nurses or some that focus on recruiting NPs, physicians, PTs, and other healthcare specialties. And just like with any job, there are different personalities and techniques that make working with one healthcare recruiter a fit over others, so the field can vary quite a bit. 

How Much Do Healthcare Recruiters Make?

Healthcare recruiters typically are paid a base pay from their company (which results from the facility paying the staffing agency for their services) and then make a commission from each new temporary employee they recruit or staff for the facility. 

According to ZipRecruiter, healthcare recruiters make an average annual wage of $53K/year. However, the actual wage varies considerably depending on where they work, what industry they work in, and the company itself. The site does list the highest salary reported for a healthcare recruiter as $82K, which while higher than $53, is still nowhere near the $300K mark. 

What's The Difference Between Healthcare Recruiters and Travel Nurse Recruiters?

The mentioned TikTok video has been posted in several Travel Nurse Facebook Groups. Many Travel Nurses in the comments are wondering if travel nurse recruiters make that much money. It's generally understood that travel nurse recruiters and healthcare recruiters are two different types of recruiters. 

  • The job title "Healthcare Recruiter" typically refers to recruiters who usually work for a hospital or recruitment firm and recruit a vast array of healthcare professionals. They could recruit allied health professionals, nurses, doctors, surgeons, and even healthcare technology roles. Healthcare recruiters may specialize in recruiting a certain healthcare professional. They are usually either paid on a salary or a salary + commission structure. If they are paid a commission, they will receive a percentage based on the amount of the healthcare professional's salary. For example, if a healthcare recruiter placed a nurse practitioner in a staff role with a salary of $150,000, the healthcare recruiter may receive a 10% commission in the amount of $15,000. Therefore, the higher the healthcare professional's salary, the higher the healthcare recruiter's commissions could be. 
  • The job title "Travel Nurse Recruiter" refers to recruiters who work for a travel nursing agency and place nurses in temporary contract roles at hospitals throughout the world. They usually place nurses to work temporarily at hospitals for 13 weeks at a time. The hospital pays the travel nursing agency a fee (bill rate) for the nurse to work there. The agency then distributes the bill rates between the agency (for profits and operating expenses) and the nurse. The travel nurse recruiter may receive a commission - a percentage of the agency's portion of the bill rate. While bill rates were inflated during the pandemic, they typically are not over $150/hr., per travel nurse. The bill rates vary greatly based on location, shift, and which agency "owns" the contract with the hospital. Keep in mind that this amount is split between the agency, the travel nurse, and, often, another agency that owns the contract with the hospital. The recruiter will only receive a small percentage of the bill rate for their commissions. 


Former Travel Nurse Recruiter Interview spoke with Angelina Walker, a former travel nurse recruiter with 7 years of experience working for 4 different travel nursing agencies. According to Angelina, travel nurse recruiters don’t make anywhere near $300K, and says that the salary listed in the video is definitely not a typical one for travel nurse recruiters or healthcare recruiters in general. 

How Much Do Travel Nurse Recruiters Actually Make? 

“I worked as a travel nurse recruiter (and recruitment manager) for 7 years at four different agencies and I never made over $70K,” she notes. “To make $300K I would have needed hundreds of nurses working with me during that time.  That is nearly impossible unless you are literally working non-stop, all the time - nights, weekends, holidays," stated Angelina.

She points out that because travel nurse recruiters are typically paid on a commission structure, based on the number of nurses they place on assignment, the only way to reach that kind of income is to recruit an extremely high volume of nurses—something that is both nearly impossible to do and potentially disingenuous, as the relationship between recruiter and nurse could potentially suffer with that kind of quantity. 

“Most travel nurse recruiters have a small base salary. Mine was never over $45,000 per year. The rest of their income comes from commission. Agencies offer various commission structures,” Angelina recalls.

How Much Commission Do Travel Nurse Recruiters Make?

Travel nursing agencies all have their own unique commission structures. In fact, some don’t even pay commissions at all. Below, Angelina explained some of her travel nurse recruiter commissions: 

Base Pay Plus Commission

“For example, at one agency, I was paid $38,000 per year base salary and earned a tiered commission structure based on the agency’s profit margins.”

Here’s an excerpt from Angelina’s travel nurse recruiter contract: 


“Travel nursing agencies typically take 15%-23% of the bill rate as their cut, the rest is paid to the nurse. However, the agency doesn't keep all of their cut as profit - they have employee salaries to pay, overhead costs, operating costs, and other expenses. Oftentimes, there is one agency that owns the contract with the hospital and all other agencies must contract through the main agency. Therefore, an agency might also have to pay a portion of the bill rate to the agency that owns the hospital contract. My commission was based on the amount of the bill rate that the agency received after they paid their necessary expenses. My commissions were never significant - maybe $2,500 per month, on a good month. Sometimes less than $800, on a bad month.” Angelina stated. 

100% Commission Structure

However, another agency I worked for offered no base pay. That’s right, I was paid 100% commission. My commission was $1000 per nurse that I placed. Sounds like a sweet deal at first, until you realized that recruiting travel nurses is a 24/7, 365 days per year job. There’s a lot of competition. In fact, it typically takes around 3 months to even place your first travel nurse. I made like $5,000 before I decided it wasn’t worth it. 

Bonus Structure

At another agency, I was paid a little higher base salary of $45,000 per year and received a quarterly “bonus” - based on a tiered commission structure. That bonus was usually about $500 per quarter. 

Travel Nurse Recruiter Demanding Schedules

Angelina points out that her unmanageable schedule as a travel nurse recruiter ultimately drove her to leave the profession entirely.

“Travel nurse recruiting involves a massive time commitment, and in my case, I was only technically paid to work 40 hours per week, but as you can see below, I was also required to work additional hours - I worked way more than my required hours," states Angelina. 

“As we have discussed, your work schedule will be primarily Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The schedule may adjust based on the business need (For example Per Diem coverage)," read her contract.

Travel nurse recruiters not only have to be totally available to their signed nurses, at all times (day shift, night shift, and weekends), but they also have to work non-stop to continue building their pipeline to sign more nurses. They spend a significant amount of time marketing, following up with previously signed travel nurses, onboarding newly signed nurses, maintaining relationships with hospital clients, and working through any issues that may arise,” Angelina recalls. 

Travel Nurse Recruiting Wasn’t a Good Fit as a New Mom asked Angelina why she ultimately left travel nurse recruiting, she stated that “the last straw was when I was a new mom with a 3-month-old baby. Our recruiters took turns taking the phones overnight. If the phone rang I was required to answer it within 3 rings. Well, I had just returned from maternity leave and was asked to take the phones home over the weekend (again.) As you can imagine, being an exhausted working mother, having a phone ringing in the wee hours of the morning was wreaking havoc at home. My mental health was suffering, I was working 10+ hours a day and on the weekends. No one in my house was sleeping. They tried to make me take the phone home. So, I quit.” 

TikTok Reacts

The TikTok video itself shows a wide range of reactions, with some commenters noting that it’s very possible to earn that kind of salary as a healthcare recruiter, while others expressed total disbelief. 

The high pay reached by the woman in the video could have a few possible causes behind it. One, she appears to be in a warm climate, which could be a higher-earning and thus, higher-paying area, such as California—known for higher rates for travel nurses as well. 

Secondly, chances are if she’s making that kind of salary recruiting, she is recruiting for highly specialized and higher-level positions, such as doctors in specialty positions in hospital settings, which would earn a much higher commission than a recruiter placing strictly nurse positions. Thirdly, there is a chance that the video reflected inflated wages from the pandemic, with crisis staffing, or a boutique firm that also offers hefty bonuses. But in general, these represent outlier situations, not the average for healthcare recruiters. 

“While healthcare recruiters recruiting specialized doctors/hard-to-fill positions in a hospital setting might make $300K or maybe during COVID this definitely is not the norm or industry standard,” explains our former healthcare recruiter. 

Can Healthcare Recruiters Make $300K?

It may be possible to earn a salary as high as $300K annually as a healthcare recruiter under key conditions such as recruiting specialty physicians in a higher-paying location, but it’s definitely not the norm by any means. 

So if you’re currently a travel nurse or looking to join a travel nursing agency, don’t worry that your recruiter is just racking up endless dollars doing their job—a good quality recruiter values a professional working relationship that allows you to feel valued and have a positive experience in your job. Because after all, if you’re not happy in your job, they can’t do their job either. Don’t be afraid to get honest with your potential recruiter, ask the tough questions, and search for a recruiter that you fit well with. 

Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

Read More From Chaunie
Go to the top of page