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Paid housing. Tax deductions. Bonus opportunities. Excellent healthcare coverage. Even if you are not a travel nurse currently, you’ve probably heard about the enticing travel nursing benefits and pay packages.

What are they exactly? Keep reading to find out the typical incentives for travel nurses.

Paid Housing for Travel Nurses

Housing costs are through the roof. According to a study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the price of sale for a single-family home as of 2017 was 4.2 times greater than the average annual household income. Taking a look at this ratio, it’s easy to see why so many nurses find the paid housing a tempting reason to start traveling.

When working as a travel nurse, your agency will most often pay for your housing or living expenses. This benefit is standard for most travel nurse compensation packages. A lot of health facilities now offer living quarters that are off-campus and designed for visiting or temporary staff to stay in free of charge. When these options are available, a travel nurse might be able to take the stipend for their own housing costs and still pocket extra cash.

Don’t forget that housing expenses span more than simply rent. Oftentimes travel nursing agencies will also cover the cost of utilities! In addition, travel nurses are often provided with stipends for food and travel costs.

Travel Nursing Opportunities for Bonus Pay

Hourly rates for travel nurses vary drastically by specialty, but another factor that helps travel nurses earn above $100,000 per year or more that comes in the form of bonuses.

Bonus incentives often provided by a travel nursing agency include:

  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Completion bonuses
  • Referral bonuses

Travel Nursing Tax-Free Money

You may have heard it referred to as a “tax advantage plan” or stipends. However you package it, the fact is that nurses who travel are often paid a portion of tax-free money. According to the IRS guidelines, if you are traveling away from your residence for work, you are entitled to receive reimbursements which are non-taxable.

When you work as a travel nurse, you can receive stipends taxed-free which usually include:

  • “Meals and incidentals” (incidentals includes things such as parking, bus fare, gas costs, and tips)
  • Housing or lodging
  • Travel expenses (the cost of getting to and from each assignment)
  • Housing stipends

Other items may also be exempt from taxes including license reimbursements, health insurance, and retirement plans.

What does a typical travel nurse tax advantage plan look like? Basically, you are taxed only on a blended rate of the minimum taxable wage, such as $20 per hour. The non-taxable reimbursements and stipends are added into the deal to give you a higher hourly rate. See the following example pay package:

  • $21 per hour – base pay rate which is reported to the IRS and taxed
  • $300 per week – non-taxable pay for meals and incidentals
  • $2,500 per month – non-taxable pay for housing or lodging expenses
  • $500 – non-taxable pay for the travel expenses of the assignment

Bear in mind that the above is simply an example, and each agency will have their own rates and incentives dependent on many factors such as the employer, the specialty, the location, etc.

Travel Nursing Health Insurance

In the United States, the Affordable Care Act mandates that individuals carry health insurance or a pay a penalty. As such, the maintenance of a health insurance policy is a top priority for most Americans, but it’s one that can be difficult to accomplish in a struggling economy.

It’s not shocking that the insurance benefits of travel nursing are appealing. Travel nursing agencies offer insurance packages that typically include everything:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision

In addition to providing the coverage options to their nurses, usually, these plans are offered at affordable rates. While there are often some kinks in the road if you decide to use a different travel nursing agency for a new assignment, the pay off for many is worth it. You can also discuss receiving a stipend for the insurance options if you prefer to maintain your own policies.

Travel Nursing Salary

Registered nurses who work full-time at staff positions at healthcare facilities throughout the United States typically earn an average wage of $69,110 annually according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other sites such as Payscale, report that travel nurses can make six-figure annual incomes.

Regardless, as a registered nurse, you are going to make more at a travel position than you would at a full-time staff nursing job. Income levels for travel nurses rank for upper-middle-class income standards of living.

How much money can you make as a travel nurse? Your potential income is dependent on many factors, such as:

  • The location of your travel nursing contract
  • Your nursing specialty
  • What type of assignment you take (keep in mind that contracts for rapid response, strikes, etc. pay more)
  • How flexible you are in choosing assignments
  • Your personal factors, such as whether you maintain a home elsewhere or whether you travel solo or with family, etc.

Travel Nursing Retirement Plans and 401K

Do you have a 401K retirement plan? If you were working as a travel nurse you probably would!

Retirement plans are often offered by travel nursing companies. You can even find some agencies that will match personal contributions to the 401K. Retirement plans offered by travel nursing companies usually include easy processes of rolling over into new accounts if needed as they understand nurses may work with multiple agencies throughout their career.

Guaranteed Pay for Travel Nurses

Often referred to as a “protection plan,” most travel nursing agencies offer guaranteed pay for their nurses.

How does this work?

Basically, if you are working on a travel nursing assignment and your shift is canceled for any reason at all, a protection plan ensures that you are still compensated for the shift you were assigned.

Want to Learn More About Travel Nursing Benefits?

Give us a call at 208-378-1338. One of our experienced travel nursing staffing specialists will be happy to discuss your career opportunities and the travel nursing benefits we offer at Elite Specialty Staffing.


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