Travel Nursing vs. Staff Nursing: Who Makes More?

Travel Nursing vs. Staff Nursing: Who Makes More?

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Share this post

Travel Nurse vs Staff Nurse Salary: Which Pays More?

Have you ever wondered which pays more: a staff nursing job or a travel nursing job? In this article, we explore the differences between the two professions and how they affect earnings. From understanding the varying pay rates for travel nurses to exploring the benefits and drawbacks of travel nursing, this article will provide an in-depth look into which career path can lead to higher salaries.


Staff Nursing Jobs vs. Travel Nursing Jobs

Differences Between Staff Nursing and Travel Nursing

Staff nursing jobs typically involve working full-time for a single healthcare facility, staying in a specific location for an extended period of time. These positions may be found in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings. Staff nurses are responsible for providing direct care to patients, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and ensuring that proper procedures and protocols are followed. Staff nursing also offers the opportunity for professional growth, development, and stability in one's career.

Travel nursing jobs, on the other hand, are temporary assignments that allow nurses to work on a contract basis at various healthcare facilities across the country or even internationally. National travel nurse jobs and crisis management positions often involve working on the front lines of public health emergencies, such as pandemics or natural disasters. Travel nursing assignments can range from a few weeks to several months, with the option for nurses to extend their contracts if desired. These positions often include perks such as a travel stipend, housing, and other benefits in addition to competitive pay rates.

Why Do Hospitals Pay Travel Nurses More Than Staff Nurses?

There are several reasons why travel nurse vs staff nurse salary often favors travel nurses. First, travel nurses work in various healthcare facilities, constantly adapting to new working environments and clinical practices. This flexibility and adaptability are valuable skills that healthcare organizations are willing to pay for, especially in times of increased demand for nursing services or when there is a shortage of skilled staff nursing positions.

Second, healthcare facilities may offer higher pay rates for travel nursing jobs as an incentive for nurses to accept short-term assignments, which can be less appealing than more stable staff nursing jobs. The financial benefits of travel nursing serve as a motivator for nurses to take on these temporary roles and help healthcare facilities address their staffing needs during periods of high demand, such as during a public health crisis, significant staff shortages, or seasonal fluctuations in patient volume.

Travel Nursing vs. Staff Nursing: Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits of Taking Travel Nursing Jobs

Travel nursing jobs offer several unique advantages over traditional staff nursing positions. For one, travel nurses have the opportunity to explore different areas of the country, experience diverse cultures, and work in various healthcare settings. This exposure to new environments can help nurses develop a well-rounded skill set, which can be valuable in career advancement opportunities.

Furthermore, travel nursing jobs typically offer higher pay rates, including travel stipends, housing provisions, and other incentives. This additional income can help nurses pay off student loans, build their savings, or simply enjoy a higher standard of living. Additionally, travel nurses often enjoy a more flexible schedule than staff nurses, allowing them more freedom to plan vacations and time off between assignments.

Advantages of Travel Nursing vs Staff Nursing

When comparing travel nurse jobs to staff nursing positions, several other advantages become apparent. Travel nursing can help enhance a nurse's career by offering opportunities to build their professional network, earn specialty certifications such as cath lab certifications, and strengthen their clinical skills in a variety of settings. Because travel nursing assignments are temporary, these roles allow nurses more control over their schedules, providing them the chance to take extended breaks or seek out specific assignments that align with their career goals and interests.

Travel nursing can also help improve their overall job outlook. Nurses who have a background in travel nursing are often viewed as adaptable and highly skilled, making them more attractive to potential employers when they decide to settle into a permanent staff nursing job. Moreover, travel nursing can help prevent burnout, as nurses have the chance to explore new places, experience different work environments, and meet new people, which keeps their careers fresh and exciting.

How Travel Nursing Can Improve Your Career

There are numerous ways in which a travel nursing career can enhance a nurse's professional development. One significant aspect is the exposure to a variety of healthcare settings, ranging from large teaching hospitals to smaller, rural healthcare facilities. This experience can provide invaluable insights into diverse patient populations, care protocols, and clinical practices that a staff nurse may not have the chance to encounter without switching jobs entirely.

Travel nursing assignments also allow nurses to work with a range of healthcare professionals, fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities. These connections can lead to further career advancement opportunities and access to resources that may not be available to those in staff nursing positions.

Additionally, travel nurses work in national travel nurse jobs and crisis management roles, acquiring essential skills in high-pressure and high-stakes situations. Such experience can be invaluable in future staff nurse positions, as it demonstrates the nurse's ability to adapt, remain calm under pressure, and work effectively in challenging circumstances.

In conclusion, both staff nursing jobs and travel nursing jobs have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Staff nursing offers stability, long-term professional growth, and the chance to build lasting relationships within a healthcare community. Travel nursing, on the other hand, provides flexibility, higher home pay, diverse experiences, and opportunities for professional development. Ultimately, the decision between staff nursing and travel nursing comes down to personal preferences, values, and career goals. Regardless of the path chosen, the nursing profession offers a wealth of opportunities for personal fulfillment and professional advancement.

Varying Pay Rates for Travel Nurses

The pay rates for national travel nurse jobs can fluctuate significantly depending on several factors such as location, specialty, and facility needs. In this section, we will explore the components that influence pay scales for travel nursing assignments and compare travel nurse vs staff nurse salaries.

Understanding Pay Scales for Travel Nurses

Travel nursing pay scales are complex and contingent upon multiple factors. The demand for specific nursing specialties, such as staff nursing jobs in the cath lab or crisis management, can lead to higher pay rates, while some healthcare facilities may offer a lower pay scale in exchange for advancement opportunities and job security.

Additionally, travel nurses often benefit from a travel stipend, housing allowance, and other non-taxable reimbursements that can increase their take-home pay. Understanding these factors and their impact on your overall compensation package is critical to making informed decisions about accepting a travel nursing assignment.

Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs

While the exact rates for travel nursing jobs may vary, certain nursing specialties consistently rank among the highest-paying. Some of these include:

  • Oncology
  • Operating Room (OR)
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Labor and Delivery (L&D)

Travel nursing assignments in these specialties typically demand specialized skills, experience, and certifications, which can lead to higher pay rates.

Comparison of Travel Nursing Salaries Across the US

The location of your travel nursing assignment also plays a significant role in determining pay rates. While the overall job outlook for nursing jobs remains positive, various regions vary in the number of open staff nursing positions and related salaries.

For instance, travel nurses working in metropolitan areas tend to receive higher pay rates than those in rural settings, reflecting the cost of living disparities between these regions. Additionally, states such as California, New York, and Massachusetts consistently rank among the highest paying for travel nursing jobs, owing to their high demand for healthcare services, licensure requirements, and regional cost of living.

Exploring Travel Nursing as a Career

A career in travel nursing offers numerous opportunities for professional growth, including increased job flexibility, diverse work experiences, and competitive compensation packages. In this section, we will discuss factors to consider when pursuing a travel nursing career and provide tips to help you start a successful career in this field.

What to Expect in a Travel Nursing Career

Embarking on a travel nursing career means you'll be taking on temporary assignments at various healthcare facilities, usually lasting between 8 to 26 weeks. This flexibility allows you to experience different work environments, medical practices, and cultures while also providing the opportunity to explore new locations across the country.

However, a travel nursing assignment may not be a sustainable long-term career choice for all nurses. Before pursuing this career path, evaluate how flexible you are regarding changing work locations and responsibilities, and adapting to new work atmospheres.

Skills Needed for Travel Nursing Jobs

Travel nurses must possess a unique set of skills to succeed in this field. In addition to standard nursing skills and certifications, successful travel nurses generally exhibit excellent communication, flexibility, and adaptability, as well as the ability to remain calm under pressure and learn quickly.

Moreover, travel nurses should exhibit strong crisis management skills, since they are often called upon during situations requiring extra support or emergency care in healthcare facilities.

Tips for Starting a Successful Travel Nursing Career

Here are some tips to help jumpstart your travel nursing career:

  1. Earn any necessary certifications and gain experience in your chosen specialty, as this will make you more marketable for travel nurse job opportunities.
  2. Research different travel nursing agencies and choose one that aligns with your needs and goals.
  3. Maintain an updated resume that highlights your skills, experiences, and certifications related to your nursing specialty.
  4. Approach each travel nursing assignment with a willingness to learn, adapt and grow professionally, as this will enhance your desirability for future opportunities.

Travel nursing can be an exciting and rewarding career choice with countless possibilities for personal and professional growth. Understanding salary differences between travel nurses and staff nurses, varying pay scales, and factors that contribute to regional pay disparities can help you make informed decisions when considering your next travel nursing assignment or staff nursing positions.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

mobile phone mockup


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

mobile phone mockup


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

View Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

View Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

Apply to Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

mobile phone mockup

Get Started in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

Take Control of Your Career with

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.