Per Diem Nursing Salary Guide

8 Min Read Published April 5, 2024
Per Diem Nursing Salary Guide

Per diem nurses tend to make more money than regular staff nurses but generally do not get paid benefits. They are also the first to be canceled or floated to another unit. This is not ideal for nurses who need a steady paycheck.

The average per diem nursing salary is $69,311 per year or $33 per hour as of March 2024, according to The lowest 25% earn hourly wages of $26.44, while the highest 25% earn more than $38.46., however, reports an annual average salary of $109,000.  

Per Diem Nursing Salary by State 

The amount that per diem nurses get paid varies significantly based on their location. Nurses in some states command much higher pay than in others. Below you’ll find a table reflecting average reported per diem nurse salaries by state, in highest pay to lowest pay order. 


Annual Salary

Monthly Pay

Weekly Pay

Hourly Wage





















New Mexico





North Dakota



































South Dakota





New York










Rhode Island


















































New Jersey








































South Carolina





New Hampshire




















North Carolina


















































West Virginia










Source: ZipRecruiter

Per Diem Nurse Salary by Years of Experience 

Hospitals and other nursing employers value the knowledge and skill that comes with years in the field, so per diem registered nurses with more experience often command higher hourly pay than those who are relatively new. 

This is especially true if they have experience in a specialty area like the emergency department or in critical care. 

Per diem nurses earn the following salaries by years of experience:

  • Less than 1 year of experience earn an average hourly salary of $29.66
  • 1-4 years of experience earn an average hourly salary of $31.66
  • 5-9 years of experience earns an average hourly salary of $34.51
  • 10-19 years of experience earns an average hourly salary of $37.19
  • 20+ years of experience earns an average hourly salary of $39.08

Source: Payscale

Due to the last-minute nature of their work assignments and the fact that they are not paid benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement contributions, per diem nurses can expect higher hourly rates.

Per Diem Nursing Salary by Work Setting

Per diem nurses are in demand in every healthcare setting and may be asked to take shifts for various facilities, including nursing homes, hospitals, or clinics. 

Not only does the constantly changing environment keep things interesting, but it also provides the opportunity to be exposed to and gain experience in a wide range of specialty areas.  

The hourly salary for a per diem nurse really does vary based on whether you are being paid by a staffing agency or by an individual facility. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not differentiate between per diem nurses and staff nurses, but registered nurses working for government agencies earn the highest salaries, followed by those working in hospital settings, ambulatory health services,  and nursing and residential care facilities. 

It’s important to note that not every type of facility will have per diem nurse positions available. Most per diem nurses work in hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

>> Show Me Online RN-to-BSN Programs

How to Make More Money as a Per Diem Nurse 

Per diem nurses often take a different approach to their careers. While they are still providing compassionate nursing care, they do so in a way that allows them to make more money per hour while enjoying the flexibility to pursue and accept positions that are most appealing or that make the best use of their skills.  

Despite the unpredictability of a per diem nursing schedule, there are several ways that nurses who choose per diem schedules can increase the amount of money they earn. 

1. Identify Geographic Areas and Work Settings With the Greatest Needs

The per diem nurses who position themselves to be available when needs are greatest have the potential to be called in frequently. 

Examples of this type of strategic availability include working during holiday times and school breaks when staff nurses are more likely to take their vacations. This could also include signing on for more shifts during flu season when hospitals’ censuses tend to run higher. 

2. Work at Multiple Facilities 

If you live in an area that has multiple healthcare facilities, you can significantly expand your earnings capacity by applying for per diem shifts with several facilities.

The more hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and staffing agencies that are aware of your skills and availability, the more work you will have the opportunity to do, and the more money you can make. 

3. Accept More Shifts 

Staffing managers call on per diem nurses because they have a real need, and they appreciate per diem nurses who are quick to say yes and eager to take on more shifts. 

This is especially true for unpopular shifts – and these may pay higher rates. By readily saying yes when called upon and doing your job well, you will quickly earn a reputation for being reliable and accommodating, which will make you the per diem nurse who gets called upon more frequently.  

4. Look for Per Diem Positions With Bonus Pay 

Many staffing agencies and facilities offer bonuses to nurses who work per diem hours, particularly those who reach certain minimum hourly requirements or who are willing to take on less desirable shifts. 

You may also be eligible for referral bonuses by bringing on colleagues, sign-on bonuses, or retention bonuses.  

>> Show Me Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Is Becoming a Per Diem Nurse Worth it?  

While a registered nurse’s salary generally makes the cost of nursing school worth it, working as a per diem nurse offers many additional advantages, including the ability to make money fast and pay off any student loans you may have accrued. 

While working as a per diem nurse isn’t for everybody — and may not work for you if you need typical employment benefits — for those who can take advantage of a spouse’s health insurance plan, it offers tremendous flexibility and the ability to make a lot of money quickly. 

Per diem nurses can work in a way that maximizes their work-life balance, choosing the hours they want to work and the settings that they prefer. They can expand their skills and knowledge and get exposure to a host of different specializations, all while avoiding departmental politics and burnout. 

Perhaps most important of all, per diem nurses earn much higher wages than those who work scheduled hours for a single facility.  

If you have big bills to pay or you’re saving for a goal, becoming a per diem nurse is definitely worth it. 

>> Show Me Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Working as a per diem nurse isn’t for everybody. These are the most closely related nursing positions. 

Travel Nurse 

The average annual travel nurse salary in the United States is $101,132, according to

Registered Nurse

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for a registered nurse is $81,220. 

Nurse Administrator 

According to, nurse administrators earn an average annual salary of $84,334. Though they do not have the flexibility that per diem nurses do, the position is physically and emotionally less demanding than patient-facing positions. 

School Nurse 

School nurses work hours that allow a healthy work-life balance and predictable hours. The average school nurse salary, according to is $55,149. 


 Why Do Per Diem Nurses Get Paid More?  

Per diem nurses work unpredictable hours, responding to the facility’s calls on an as-needed basis. Their availability and flexibility make them extremely valuable to the staffing managers who hire them. 

How Do You Negotiate Per Diem Salary?  

Per diem positions are generally offered at a set rate, but that doesn’t make negotiation out of the question. Knowledge is your best friend when you want to negotiate: be aware of what other facilities are paying and use it to your advantage if the rate you are being offered is lower. 

It also helps to know how badly the facility or staffing agency needs your services and to make sure that you are negotiating with someone who has the power to boost your rate. 

Is a Per Diem Job Worth It?  

A per diem position offers a higher rate of pay than full-time nurses working at the same facility are likely to get. This means that if you get enough assignments and are willing to work hours that are traditionally considered undesirable, you can make a lot of money quickly. 

Per diem jobs also offer the advantage of complete flexibility and the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different specialties and work settings. 

Is Per Diem Nursing Taxed Differently?  

It will depend on how you are employed. If you are directly employed by a healthcare organization (i.e. hospital), then you will receive a W-2 and be taxed as a traditional employee. 

However, if you are employed by a staffing agency, then you may receive a 1099 to use for tax purposes. Per diem nurses who receive a 1099 are considered independent contractors and are taxed as though they run their own businesses.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer Contributor

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is a freelance writer and editor who is driven by details. She loves to dive into research, ensuring that the information she provides educates, engages and illuminates. Before starting her own business she spent years working in advertising and raising three kids. Today she lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where her she and her husband enjoy travel, the Jersey Shore, and spoiling their grandchildren.

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