How Much Do Travel Nurses Really Make?

COVID-19 brought unprecedented fractures to the healthcare system in the United States. With the pandemic rapidly spreading throughout the country, travel nurses were utilized to help fill staffing needs. As hospital systems adjust to a post-pandemic normal, it begs the question, how much do travel nurses really make?

how much do travel nurses really make

How Much Do Travel Nurses Really Make Per Week?

Before COVID, the average travel nurse made anywhere between $1,500 to $1,800 per week. This number includes their normal hourly rate and their tax free stipend. These pay rates were considered the norm back in the day, but how do these rates stack up against pandemic and now post pandemic rates? As the pandemic raged on, overwhelmed hospitals were left with major gaps in their staffing. That’s where travel nurses stepped up and into the frontlines. Travel nurses were making upwards of $5,000 weekly throughout the many waves and variants of COVID. As illnesses continue to trend downwards, so are travel nursing pay rates.

How Much Do Travel Nurses Really Make Now?

Although COVID continues to decline, the job market for healthcare staffing is still trying to find its new normal. Today, travel nurses can still double, or even triple their salary compared to a hospital staff position. The average weekly pay for travel nurses can range anywhere between $2,000-$3,000 weekly. However, pay rates also heavily depend on your specialty and the job location. Some parts of the country tend to pay more due to the cost of living in the area.

What Does a Travel Nursing Pay Package Look Like?

Traveling healthcare professionals are given an hourly wage just like their staff counterparts, but their paycheck breakdowns look a little different. A travel nursing pay package will be broken down by weekly gross, hourly pay, overtime rate, and stipend. The weekly gross portion of a pay package is the pre-tax estimate that a travel nurse will make weekly. While the hourly wage and overtime rate are self explanatory, they are also given a stipend, or sometimes referred to as per diem. Stipends are a non-taxable form of compensation to cover meals and lodging while on assignment. The amount a travel nurse will receive in stipends purely depends on the location they are traveling to. For example, a nurse traveling to Los Angeles for an assignment will have a higher stipend because the cost of living in California is significantly higher than other parts of the country.

Who Determines How Much Travel Nurses Make?

Now that we’ve covered how much travel nurses really make and what a pay package looks like, there’s another frequently asked question that needs to be answered. Who determines how much travel nurses make? While there’s plenty of misinformation online about this topic, the answer is the facility. Hospitals determine how much they can pay for a traveler at any given time. If you’ve run into rate drops throughout your travel nursing career, this is where it comes from. Your agency has very little control over what the hospital determines the rates to be, however their number one priority is to ensure their travelers can avoid this at all costs. 

SQUAD Medical Staffing is dedicated to providing unwavering support and service to travel nursing and allied health professionals. If you’re ready to start your travel healthcare career, join the SQUAD today!

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