4 Travel Nursing Myths Busted: From Salaries to Workload

4 Travel Nursing Myths Busted: From Salaries to Workload

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make and How Hard Do They Work?

The travel nursing industry is getting a lot of press these days and therefore is growing considerably. With headlines touting impressive travel nurse salaries, and pictures of idyllic wonders of nature it’s no surprise. But for registered nurses who are thinking to take the plunge and jump from a staff job to travel nursing, a thorough investigation is necessary.

When you do a simple Google search for “How much do travel nurses make?” a quick glance over the top results on the page will show you that the numbers vary widely, and yet almost always show an impressive weekly or hourly pay rate. Consequently, nurses looking at travel RN jobs can get hung up on how much RNs make and bypass good opportunities because they don’t have all the information. There are some pretty frustrating myths rolling around about travel nursing that foster a mentality that travel nursing is all about the money.

Read on to learn about these myths so that you know exactly what you’re getting into when you choose a travel nurse career.

Low Pay Means It’s Not Going to Be Worth It

This one is unfortunately all too common, moreover, it’s absolutely false. The hourly rate offered up in a travel nursing contract is contingent on several factors. One big factor is the cost of living for the city or town that your contract is in. Not every city or town in the country has a sky-high cost of living such as good old New York City, and thank heavens for that! When you figure out your living expenses and housing reimbursement in a low cost of living state and compare it to your living expenses and housing in a high cost of living state you might sometimes find that there isn’t as big of a difference in your take-home pay between the two as you originally thought.

This table shows the eight states with the lowest cost of living and the eighth highest cost of living:

ArkansasNew York
New MexicoConnecticut

Before you say no to a contract that is offering what you feel like is a low pay rate, broaden your perspective and look for the non-financial gains.

What is the job? Will it offer you experience in a new unit or specialty? Maybe it will help build or broaden your nursing career. Where is the job? Do a little digging about the town or city and see what you find. Maybe the community offers professionals sports games, or outdoor recreation opportunities that you’d enjoy, maybe the food or the music in the area is unique. There’s more to be gained in a travel nurse career than the money.

High Pay Means It’ll Be Brutal

Not necessarily. Yes, some crisis response contracts offer high pay and can be emotionally and physically daunting in return. However, that isn’t always the case. As previously mentioned, cost of living also factors in for the pay scale. Also, sometimes locations that have had a hard time attracting travel nurses consequently offer higher compensation to lure nurses in. You need more information about the contract than just the hourly rate.

Sometimes rural travel nursing assignments fit this criterion, and I can tell you that if you want to broaden your perspective and knowledge as a nurse, a rural assignment is a must. If you’re considering a rural contract, we’ve written an article for you, “Do You Have What it Takes for Rural Travel Nursing Jobs?

You Can Get Rich

Maybe. Although that depends on your definition of rich, about how careful you can be with your finances, including the stipends and reimbursements, and many contracts you work over the course of a year. Elite Specialty Staffing offers a generous housing stipend. You might find one option more financially favorable than the other.

One thing to be especially mindful of is your taxes. While it’s technically possible to do your own taxes, we strongly recommend you hire a professional. Even better if you find a tax professional who has experience with travel nurses. Be careful with your taxes. Albeit caution with your taxes won’t make you rich, it will help you maximize the benefits that come with the occupation, and avoid costly tax fees or penalties (shudder).

These Travel Nursing Contracts Limit My Income

When you ask the question of how much nurses make, you’re limiting your information from the outset. Travel nursing contracts set your pay for the duration of the contract. Nevertheless, while the hourly rate (or alternatively the weekly rate) is set, some may include sign-on bonuses or completion bonuses.
You can also inquire if overtime pay or shift differentials for nights or holidays are available. Additionally, there are other ways to earn when you team up with Elite Specialty Staffing. Our impressive benefits package includes the potential to earn a full-time hourly bonus, a referral bonus, and travel reimbursement.

Don’t Make Assumptions

You know what how the saying goes about making assumptions. Worse, these assumptions are to your disadvantage because they will close doors of opportunity. Approach each location contract with an open mind, and look for opportunity.

Sometimes these opportunities will be in the form of building up professional experience and networking contacts. Sometimes, they’ll be about the relationships you build in making new friends. You’ll definitely have opportunities to see the beauty of our great nation, and while not every location contract can be in a paradise frequently seen and romanticized in movies (aka Hawaii-everyone wants Hawaii) you will be surprised to find that the unique wonder and beauty of each place is there waiting for you, if only you take the time to look for it.