Travel nurses are some of the highest paid nurses in the world. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency between agencies and hospitals can make it tough to understand compensation. We created a travel nurse salary calculator to ensure nurses are being fairly paid for their work.

In addition to receiving almost twice the hourly rate of a typical nurse, travel nurses, in most cases, also receive a stipend to cover the cost of food and housing. The annual salary of a travel nurse depends on the state he/she works in, the nurse’s specialty, years of experience, and more often than not the agency and hospital you’re working with.

Analyze Your Pay With our Travel Nurse Salary Calculator

Benefits of Travel Nursing

It’s very difficult to figure out exactly what a travel nurse might make on any given assignment. Although the hourly pay rate varies with each assignment there’s always housing stipends to factor into the equation, as well as overtime pay, and the cost of living across the U.S.

In a previous article, The Best States for Travel Nursing we go into detail about pay in various states like California:

California typically pays overtime after 8 hours in a day which means when you work 12 hours in a day 4 of them will be overtime. The biggest drawback is the cost of living is significantly greater in California.

Clearly, there’s a lof of factors involved in figuring out your true hourly rate. One great example of this equation comes from our friends at

$250/wk for meals X 13 weeks: $3,250
$2,000 per month lodging X 3 months: $6,000
$500 travel reimbursement (one time): $500
Total: $9,750
Divided by total hours worked /468 hours
Non-taxable stipend pay per hour: = $20.83
Add base pay: +$20
Total blended rate: $40.83 per hour

Sample Travel Nurse Compensation Breakdown


Travel nurse salary is tough to calculate but for the most part, it’s based on supply and demand. Some states, like California, just have a great need for nurses. Since they have such a high demand and cost of living, it’s no surprise that they offer the highest compensation.

Typically, travel nurses don’t have to worry about great benefits. Most travel nurse staffing agencies offer health and wellness benefits in addition to your standard medical, dental and vision insurance. Some agencies will even offer 401k matching and other retirement benefits.

Before you accept any travel nurse assignment be sure to do your research. Understand which states offer what, and what exactly is included in your contract (housing, overtime, etc.). If you’re unsatisfied with your staffing agency, don’t be afraid to shop around.



Another factor to consider when calculating your pay is your specialty. Not all nurse specialties are created equal. Some specialties are in much higher demand than others. By doing your research ahead of time, you can know exactly what to expect in terms of compensation. If you’d like to take a look at what your compensation might be in any given state, please consult our travel nurse salary calculator.

Years of Experience

Finally, it’s important to consider your experience when trying to calculate your salary. The more experience you have the more in demand you will be and the higher compensation you’ll receive. Typically, you’ll want to have at least 2 years of experience before applying to be a travel nurse. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, you need to show that you’re a competent RN before staffing agencies will want to bring you onboard.