Travel Nurse Salary: How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

9 Min Read Published October 3, 2023
Travel Nurse Salary Guide |

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

The average annual travel nurse salary in the US is $105,021 or $50/hr, according to ZipRecruiter as of May 2023. This is significantly higher than the average salary for registered nurses overall, which is $81,220 per year or $39.05 per hour per the BLS

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

Travel nurse salaries range widely across the country, with the lowest earners making $40,000 and the highest earners making $155,500 annually!

If you are a Registered Nurse (RN) who has ever considered traveling the country and wants to know how much travel nurses earn, you’ve come to the right place! This travel nurse salary guide will explain everything you need to know about how much travel nurses can make. Including:

  • Types of travel nurses who make the most money
  • Travel nurse salaries by city and state incomes
  • Top-paying travel nurse agencies
  • How to increase your salary as a travel nurse

Factors That Impact Travel Nurse Salaries

It is important to remember that travel nursing salary is dependent on several factors, including:

  • Nursing specialty
  • Location
  • Full-time or part-time employment
  • The shifts you work: day shift, night shift, mid-shifts, or weekends
  • Bonus income

Also, travel nurses who work holidays often receive time-and-a-half or double-time pay, and in some cases, even more!

In addition, depending on the circumstances, travel nurses may also receive “crisis” pay due to needing to fill staffing urgently. If you have the desire and flexibility to move to another city or state quickly, a “crisis” assignment might be a great option for you.

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

Travel Nurse Salary by Specialty

What do travel nurses do that warrants their higher salaries? While flexibility is a significant factor, your travel nurse salary will also change depending on your nursing specialty.

Travel CRNA

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the top-paid nursing specialty. The same holds true for CRNAs who take travel assignments as well. According to ZipRecruiter, CRNA travelers earn an average annual income of $194,352 or $93/hr. The highest earners make as much as $311,500!

Operating Room Travel Nurse

Operating Room (OR) travel nurses are in high demand at various locations around the country. ZipRecruiter found that operating room travel nurses earn an average annual income of $181,460 annually or $87/hr. The highest earners make as much as $286,000.

Emergency Room Travel Nurse

ZipRecruiter reports that ER travel nurses earn an average annual income of $83,503 annually or $40/hr. However, they add that the highest earners make as much as $171,500.

Intensive Care (ICU) Travel Nurse

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for ICU travel nurses is $143,416 annually or $69/hr. However, the highest earners make as much as $263,500.

Travel Nurse Practitioner

The average travel nurse practitioner salary is $140,086 annually or $67/hr, according to ZipRecruiter.  However, salary is often dependent on location and specialty. The highest-earning travel nurse practitioners make as much as $243,500.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Travel Nurse

NICU travel nurses earn an average income of approximately $173,017 annually or $83/hr, according to ZipRecruiter. However, incomes across the country can range widely, with bottom earners making $56,000 and top earners bringing in $281,500.

Med-Surg Travel Nurse

ZipRecruiter reports that med-surg travel nurses in the US earn an average annual income of $118,997 or $57.21/hr. However, per-hour incomes can reach as high as $134.38, depending on your location and facility.

Telemetry Travel Nurse

ZipRecruiter states that telemetry Travel nurses earn an average annual income of $124,122 annually or $60/hr. However, top earners bring in as much as $174,500.

travel nurse salary

Top Paying States for Travel Nurses

Location can make a huge difference in salary as a travel nurse. ZipRecruiter reports that the states that offer the highest pay for travel nurses include:

  • New York: $128,277 annually or $61.67/hr
  • Arizona: $109,776 annually or $52.78/hr
  • Wyoming: $109,765 annually or $52.77/hr
  • Hawaii: $109,653 annually or $52.72/hr
  • Tennessee: $107,708 annually or $51.78/hr
  • Massachusetts: $107,000 annually or $51.44/hr
  • New Jersey: $106,901 annually or $51.40/hr
  • Washington: $106,086 annually or $51.00/hr
  • West Virginia: $106,044 annually or $50.98/hr
  • New Hampshire: $105,438 annually or $50.69/hr

Top Paying Cities for Travel Nurses

ZipRecruiter reports that the cities that offer the highest pay for travel nurses include:

  • Barrow, AK: $137,200 annually or $65.96/hr
  • San Jose, CA: $133,873 annually or $64.36/hr
  • Oakland, CA: $132,042 annually or $63.48/hr
  • Antioch, CA: $129,387 annually or $62.21/hr
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA: $128,781 annually or $61.91/hr
  • Lebanon, NH: $128,674 annually or $61.86/hr
  • New York, NY: $128,277 annually or $61.67/hr
  • Hayward, CA: $127,865 annually or $61.47/hr
  • Vallejo, CA: $127,791 annually or $61.44/hr 
  • Seattle, WA: $127,691 annually or $61.39/hr

Top Paying Agencies for Travel Nurses

There are multiple top-paying travel nurse agencies across the US. It is important to remember that your pay package depends on several factors, and income may vary widely depending on location and the needs of the facility. When a healthcare facility has more urgent needs for travel nurses, the pay ranges typically increase.

>> Related: Travel Nurse Requirements

Aya Healthcare

Aya Healthcare is one of the largest travel nurse agencies in the country, and they offer a wide range of travel nurse opportunities for various nursing specialties and allied healthcare positions. 

Fusion Medical Staffing

Fusion is another large nurse travel agency with many opportunities for nurses to choose their top travel destinations. Their website reports that one of the biggest perks of working with them is that they offer dedicated contacts available every day and night, 24/7.

Axis Medical Staffing

Axis Medical Staffing has won awards for “Best Customer Service” by Verywell Health and “Top Travel Nursing Company 2022” by Travel Nursing Central. 

Travel Nurse Across America

The TNAA website boasts highly skilled recruiters, housing experts, and clinical and quality insurance that prepares their travel nurses for success. 

Gifted Healthcare

Gifted Healthcare is another large travel nursing agency that reports that they aim to open the door to the right opportunities for their clinicians. In fact, their website reports that 90% of travel nurses report that their assignments aligned perfectly with their skills and expectations. 

TotalMed Staffing

Headquartered in Appleton, WI, TotalMed Staffing has several other locations across the country, such as California, Illinois, Tennessee, and North Carolina. They serve various types of healthcare facilities across the country.

Ventura Medstaff

Ventura Medstaff prides itself on integrity. Their website makes it easy to find a match for various types of healthcare specialties in the right location and facility across the country.

Tailored Healthcare

The Tailored Healthcare website reports that travel nurses are rewarded professionally with high-paying travel assignments, Platinum Shield Benefits, and everything paid for upfront. In addition, the company celebrates its nurses year-round with praise, gifts, and best-in-class bonuses.

Titan Medical 

Titan Medical Group states that they help their clients “find your place.” They feature various jobs on their website daily and make it easier for clients to find their next travel assignment.  

MedPro Healthcare

Medpro Healthcare offers incredible benefits, including competitive compensation, travel reimbursement, health insurance, short and long-term disability, 401K, Continuing education, and even referral bonuses.

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

How to Increase Your Salary as a Travel Nurse

No matter where you live and work as a travel nurse, there are often opportunities to increase your salary.

Be Flexible With Your City and State

When you live and work in a city with a higher cost of living, you will also be compensated at a higher rate. For example, travel nurses who work in areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle will earn significantly more income than travel nurses who choose to work in lower-cost-of-living areas. 

Consider Your Specialty(s)

If you have been cross-trained in more than one nursing specialty, you may want to see which specialties pay the most through your travel agency. For example, if you usually work as an ICU nurse, but a facility has crisis needs for telemetry nurses and will pay top dollar for that specialty, then you may want to consider accepting that travel assignment. After all, these are temporary assignments, and if you decide you don’t like them, you won’t have to stay for long.

Ask About Per Diem Daily Pay

Many nurses qualify for additional per diem pay for travel nurse housing, incidentals, and meals during their travel assignments. Talk to your travel agent to see if this applies to you.

Choose Shifts Wisely

Career and travel nurses are typically paid a few dollars more per hour for working less desirable shifts such as night shifts, mid shifts, and weekends.

In addition, travel nurses who work holidays often receive time and a half or double time pay!

Talk About Bonuses

Your travel agency will need to explain your bonus structure, as they can differ from agency to agency. However, here are a few of the different types of bonuses you may be eligible for as a travel RN:

  • Agency bonus: Added pay from your travel agency
  • Retention bonus: Your agency will often pay you a fee for referring your nurse and allied healthcare professional friends to their agency.
  • Retention bonus: Agency-paid bonuses for nurses who continue to accept travel bonuses from the same agency.

Find Crisis or Strike Pay

Healthcare facilities in dire need of nursing staff during a public healthcare crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or during a nursing strike, often will pay travel nurses significantly higher wages than during non-dire times. Talk to your travel agency to find out where the most significant staffing needs are. 

Consider Looking at Different Agencies

If you are ever disappointed with your travel pay or hear through the grapevine that other agencies pay significantly more, consider looking at different agencies. It is also wise to build relationships with other travel nurses so you can talk freely about what to expect at different agencies.

Consider Finding Your Own Housing

Many agencies offer a housing stipend and then secure your housing for you. However, if you find your own housing, you may be able to find something less expensive and pocket the rest of the money.

>> See more travel nurse salary tips in How to Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse

The following are salaries of non-traveling nursing specialties, according to ZipRecruiter:

Travel Nurse Salary: Final Thoughts & Next Steps

The high salaries alone are enough to make dozens of nurses excited to enter travel nursing. But the perks don't stop at pay - travel nurses get to see the world, interact with patients across cultures, and enjoy non-taxed travel stipends. If all that sounds enticing to you, check out our guide on how to become a travel nurse to start your dream career today!

Travel Nurse Salary FAQs

  • Do travel nurses get paid well?

    • ZipRecruiter reports that as of May 2023, travel nurses in the US earned an average annual income of $105,021 or $50/hr. They also add that salaries range widely across the country, with the lowest earners making $40,000 and the highest earners making $155,500 annually! 
  • What is the highest travel nurse salary?

    • CRNAs travelers are the top-paid travel registered nurse specialty.  According to ZipRecruiter, CRNA travelers earn an average annual income of $194,352 or $93/hr. The highest earners make as much as $311,500! 
  • Why are travel nurses paid so much?

    • Travel nurses help to fill staffing gaps and often accept assignments in areas with severe or “crisis’” nursing shortages. For their travel flexibility and ability to work in sometimes hard-to-fill areas, they are typically paid a higher compensation.


Sarah Jividen
Sarah Jividen Contributor

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a trained neuro/trauma and emergency room nurse turned freelance healthcare writer/editor. As a journalism major, she combined her love for writing with her passion for high-level patient care. Sarah is the creator of Health Writing Solutions, LLC, specializing in writing about healthcare topics, including health journalism, education, and evidence-based health and wellness trends. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children. 

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