How to Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse

travel nurse in blue scrubs with stethoscope and money in pocket

More money, more opportunities, more experience, and more adventures? Travel nursing brings more to every aspect of your life as a nurse. Whether you’re considering becoming a travel nurse or looking for ways to boost your earnings on your next assignment, here are some top tips on how to make the most money as a travel nurse in 2024.

Let’s Talk Money

What is the Average Travel Nursing Salary?

Want to increase your nurse salary? Traveling is one of the best ways to earn the most money as a nurse! As of 2024, the average travel nursing salary base is $2,088 per week or $114,110 per year. This can vary significantly depending on your assignment’s location, specialty, and demand, as well as your travel nursing agency’s offered stipends and bonuses.

Which is Higher: A Travel Nursing Salary or a Staff Nurse Salary?

Travel nurses also typically earn more than staff nurses. There are several reasons for this, including the high demand for travel nurses, their flexibility to work in various locations, and the additional stipends and bonuses they receive.

10 Tips: Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse

Want to learn how to make the most money as a travel nurse? Start here! We’ve mapped out simple yet effective steps you can take to increase your travel nursing salary:

Choose a High-Demand Nursing Specialty

To learn how to make the most money as a travel nurse, you can start by learning which specialties have the most job openings.

High-demand specialties often have a higher travel nursing salary. Consider choosing specialties with a strong need for nurses, including:

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Telemetry Nursing
  • Skilled Nursing
  • ICU Nursing
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • ER Nursing
  • Cardiac Care Nursing
  • Behavioral and Mental Health Nursing

Pick a Cost-Effective Location

Your travel nursing salary can vary by thousands — or even tens of thousands — based solely on its location.

There are two main location factors to consider in how to make the most money as a travel nurse:

  1. The area’s average travel nursing salary
  2. The area’s cost of living

You can increase your earnings by applying for contracts in cities with the top salaries. However, make sure you’re also factoring in the cost of living! Research the average cost of rent, groceries, and other necessary expenses in the area, too. Most often, cities with a low cost of living also have the lowest pay, and vice versa. But with a bit of research on how to save, you can strike the right balance.

Take the Housing Stipend

Travel and housing stipends are a great perk of travel nursing! Working with a travel nursing agency can reduce your cost of living by subsidizing your housing.

For example, if your housing stipend is $1,500/month, but you find an apartment for $1,200/month, that’s an extra $300/month you get to keep!

This stipend can also add up if you choose to rent out a single room, live with a roommate, or split rent with a fellow travel nurse. Finding smart housing options can be an easy way to make the most money as a travel nurse.

Seek Out Travel Nursing Bonuses

Some travel nursing agencies offer bonuses! For example, CareerStaff offers seasonal bonuses up to an average of $1,200. Plus, our referral bonus program gives you the chance to earn up to $750* for each clinician you refer to join us!

Extend Your Contract

Does the facility you’re working at allow you to extend your contract? Consider doing it! Often, you can negotiate a higher travel nursing salary for the extension.

Consider Overtime and Weekend Shifts

Travel nursing pays more, which makes it an opportunity for many nurses to dive in, grow their savings, and expand their skills. If you’re open to it, taking on extra shifts can quickly increase your earnings. Overtime pay also can be a way to earn the most money as a travel nurse, depending on the facility and contract.

Get a Compact License

An enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) allows you to work in over 36 states and U.S. territories with just one license. If you get a compact license, you’ll basically have a multi-state nursing license, expanding your job opportunities and travel nursing salary.

Earn Additional Certifications

The more specialized you are, the more value you can provide and earn!

Specialized nursing certifications can make you more competitive and open up higher-paying contracts. Look out for high-demand certifications to boost your skills and income.

Apply to Rapid Response Roles

Ready to embrace the true spontaneity and adventure of travel nursing? Consider applying to rapid response and crisis assignments. These assignments require you to move and learn fast to respond to an urgent need.

If you can move quickly and adapt to new environments, these roles can be highly lucrative.

Work With a Travel Nursing Agency

Lastly, working with a good travel nursing agency can significantly boost your pay, especially if they offer tax-free stipends for housing and travel. If you want to learn how to make the most money as a travel nurse, start by working with an agency.

Get Started: Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse

Of course, making the most out of your travel nursing salary and experience starts by working with the right travel nursing agency. CareerStaff has over 30 years of experience and works one-on-one with travel nurses to find assignments that fit your goals, from pay to lifestyle.

Discover travel nursing assignments across the U.S. today or Quick Apply below and connect with a dedicated recruiter now!