Maximize Your Earning Potential as a Travel Nurse
In the wake of the pandemic, never before has our country been more aware of the integral role nurses play in the medical industry. Nurses have more opportunities now than perhaps ever before to negotiate their terms and maximize their earning potential. Furthermore, it isn’t only touching anecdotal stories that insight public approval and the widely discussed yet frustratingly persistent nursing shortage that lead to a shift in the balance of power for nurses. It’s a whirlwind of factors that can come together and create a complex setting ripe with opportunity, for those willing and ready to move forward.
It’s commonly accepted knowledge that women earn less than men who perform in the same job position, with the same duties and responsibilities. The U.S. Census Bureau Income and Poverty 2019 Report supplied data on the gender gap revealing women earn 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. In a field with a disproportionately larger number of women than men, would it surprise you to know that during the pandemic, the gender pay gap between men and women in nursing widened? According to the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report published by Nurse.com and Relias, men registered nurses (RNs) surveyed earned $14,000 more than female RNs, which is almost double the gender gap found in the 2020 survey. In fact, 31% of female nurses surveyed admitted that they rarely or never negotiate salary. The report further showed that more than one-third of hospitals report a nurse vacancy rate of over 10%. Research how you can maximize your earning potential with thoughtful negotiation and take hold of the opportunities before you that you’ve been avoiding.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, the average annual salary for RNs was $82,750, or $39.78 per hour. You can maximize your nursing income when you specialize. The most notable example of a specialization increasing your earning power is as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). CRNAs can earn double the salary of an RN according to the BLS with an annual average salary in 2021 of $202,470 or $97.34 per hour. Other high-paying specializations include ICU Nursing, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing, Pain Management Nursing, General Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Cath Lab Nursing, and Certified Nurse Midwife.
Travel nursing is another avenue that affords the potential for higher earnings. Travel nursing contracts typically include an hourly pay rate, a housing stipend, a travel stipend, and agency reimbursement programs for incidentals and meals. We are seeing travel nursing contracts that offer nurses 3,000 a week, and that’s an exciting development in the industry.
The top paying travel nurse states for August 2022 were:
Nevertheless, to maximize your income as a travel nurse, you must look at the whole picture and not only the weekly rate. In 2018, the tax laws changed (as they are likely to do again at some point in the future) and travel nurses can no longer claim travel costs, license expenses, continuing education expenses, or other work-related expenses for tax deductions. This means travel nurses may want to negotiate the housing and traveling stipends to ensure coverage for the costs based on the geographic location of the contract.
Travel nurses who want to prioritize their earning income, need to adjust their travel nurse contract search parameters. Look not only at the hourly rate but the cost of living in the contract location as well. Instead of looking for contracts in popular destination spots, look for contracts in states that have a lower cost of living, and then do the math. This requires more diligence to be sure, but ultimately can help you increase the amount of money that actually remains in your bank account, not simply increase the amount of money on your paychecks.
Combine these two ideas and see the opportunities in front of you broaden. Specialized travel nurses can leverage their increased knowledge base, skill set, and broadened scope of care to make them more attractive for lucrative travel nursing contracts.
Some travel nurses are in the industry for opportunities outside of work. It’s no small perk to be able to see the country without having to take vacation time or pay for flights and hotels for every destination. However, if your ultimate priority is income, it’s important to reign in your spending. Look for ways that you can explore, experience, and enjoy your destination, without spending all your hard-earned money as you do it. Here are some tips:
Look for city events that are free
Meal plan to avoid last-minute fast food dashes
Split your direct deposit pay and send a percentage to a savings account
Explore the parks
Call the museums and ask if they have free entry days or discount days
Forego the morning coffee shop run, and brew your own
Elite Specialty Staffing prioritizes the well-being of our travel nurses. We know that travel nursing isn’t only about the money, but the experience as well. Nevertheless, security is important and as such, we offer comprehensive benefits for our travel nurses including:
Professional Liability Insurance – The 2022 Nurse Salary Report found that one of the top benefits RNs wanted but didn’t have access to as malpractice insurance. We understand the responsibilities nurses undertake and value their security.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance – If you are injured while on the job, this plan will provide wage replacement and medical benefits until you are back on your feet and able to work again.
Health, Dental and Vision Insurance – Just because you’re traveling and working by contract doesn’t mean you can’t have an appropriate health care insurance package.
Housing and Incidentals Stipend – We bundle the housing and incidentals stipend all into one, and allow you the power to decide where you want to live.