Are you daydreaming about your next travel nursing assignment? Maybe you’re about to end your current healthcare travel job and need fresh ideas for the next leg of your journey. Health Carousel Travel Nursing can help you find travel nurse assignments in your travel nurse specialty. We've compiled the following list of 10 cities ranked highest in availability, generous pay, and location desirability for travel nursing jobs.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California remains one of the most sought-after locations for travel nurses. The city often offers travel nursing crisis contracts that regularly pay above the national average and is considered one of the cities with the 15 highest paying nursing jobs. Multiple reputable hospital systems like Kaiser Permanente and the University of Southern California hire experienced travel nurses. Plus, the lifestyle of near-perfect weather year-round, easy access to beaches and nature, and a lively food and nightlife scene are more than enough incentives to land your next contract in Los Angeles.
Seattle is home to the iconic Space Needle with panoramic views of the city and bay and the foodie-favorite Pike Place Market. Seattle is also known for its misty gray weather, eclectic art scene, and proximity to hiking havens such as Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens. Nursing specialties such as med surg nursing, ICU, and telemetry travel nurses remain in high demand in the region, making this location an ideal fit for any travel nurse.
Honolulu, a tropical oasis lying on top of a dormant volcano, is a strong contender for one of the most desirable places for travel nurses. This city is the largest of the islands, as well as the capital. Staying on the island offers easy access to picturesque white sands, lush green hikes, and the opportunity to pick up surfing as a new hobby. While your travel pay rates may not be as high as other travel nurse destinations, the exploring you can do during your days off is unmatched. If you’re a fan of tropical flavors, fresh seafood, and a leisurely pace of life after your shift is over, Hawaii could be your next travel nursing destination.
St. Louis, Missouri
As the second largest city in Missouri and home of the blues music scene, St. Louis has a lot to offer travel nurses looking for a rich midwestern experience. It has eccentric museums like the World Chess Hall of Fame and plenty of outdoor activities like fishing on the Mississippi River. Travel nurses searching for a relatively low cost of living without the congestion of other major cities may consider St. Louis the perfect low-key stop for their next travel nurse specialty jobs.
The “Windy City” lies on the shore of Lake Michigan and embodies everything that a bustling metropolitan hub should be. Chicago is known for its infamous “Chicago-style” hotdogs, cheesy deep-dish pizza, sweeping architecture, vibrant art and music scene, outdoor adventuring along the lake, and access to multiple sports teams. For travel nurses who are ready for a true urban experience, Chicago is an essential choice to explore the best of the Midwest when looking for travel nurse specialty jobs.
Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and has proven to be an attractive option for travel nurses. It is the state capital of Texas and just a three-hour drive to other major cities such as Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Austin is also known for its fresh food scene, live-outdoor concerts, and proximity to recreational activities at its multiple lakes and parks. Austin is a prime location for travel nurse assignments for nurses looking for a mix of light urban sprawl with a small-town feel.
Ready to enjoy the best of South Florida? Miami is known to be an entirely different world from its Floridian counterparts. Travel nurses regularly flock to Miami for its temperate climate, warm waters, funky art scene, and vibrant nightlife. Miami also represents a host of world-class sports teams. It is only a short drive from the Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands off the coast with great scuba diving, boating, snorkeling, and fishing. Another benefit of travel nurse assignments in Miami is there is no state income tax, which means more take-home pay for you in the long run.
One of the largest cities in the south and home to one of the busiest international airports in the United States, Atlanta combines the best of southern hospitality with an eclectic city vibe. Travel nurses can get their fix of hearty southern fare while enjoying interesting experiences like the Trap Museum or a Braves game. The Beltline, a pedestrian-only trail that runs through the middle of the city, is a fixture of trendy shops, restaurants, and casual nightlife frequented by locals and tourists alike.
New York City, New York
New York City is an icon of its own merit. A range of high-paying contracts are available all year long, continuing to make it a popular location for travel nursing jobs. New York City is full of diverse culinary delights, a brimming nightlife, and famous attractions like Times Square, the Broadway Theater, and Central Park. Travel nurse companies have a plethora of travel nursing jobs available in NYC. There is something for everyone, no matter what your taste is.
An underrated gem of the south, Richmond offers a tight-knit, unfussy small-town experience. It is home to a major university and within a two-hour drive to Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville, which boasts ripe vineyards and peaceful forest getaways. Travel nurses can also experience the growing slow-food movement in Richmond and enjoy organic, locally butchered meats and craft cocktails. Richmond is an ideal option for nurses looking for a simpler pace of living.
What Makes a Location In-Demand for Travel Nurses?
Money isn’t always the deciding factor for nurses picking their travel assignment location. Many nurses use travel nursing to check off destinations on their bucket lists. Others choose their assignment location based on proximity to other states or cities they want to visit in their downtime. Experienced nurses use their travel nurse careers to their advantage when it comes to exploring the country and utilizing travel nurse perks like free hotel rooms and free car rentals.
Other deciding factors for location choice may be the type of weather you are most comfortable in. Do you prefer cold, snowy climates or sunny, beachy towns? Location demand can also depend on if you prefer to live in a big city or a rural town. Travel nurses who like to ski may head to Colorado, while nurses who like to surf may take an assignment in Hawaii. You can use travel nursing as an opportunity to explore and perform your favorite hobbies.
Some nurses use specific locations to help boost their careers, such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Whether you work in the progressive care unit or intensive care unit or are an operating room nurse, having these prestigious healthcare establishments on your resume can open up further professional opportunities.
Location preferences vary depending on the nurse but states such as Hawaii, California, and New York City are always in-demand.
Things to Consider for Your Travel Nurse Assignment Location
Salary tends to be the driving factor for nurses when comparing travel nurse jobs. However, the cost of living and housing affordability is often overlooked. Typically, states offering higher hourly wages have a higher cost of living, which means less affordable housing and higher taxes. Travel nurses who become savvy about the cost of living versus salary have the most successful travel nurse careers.
It is imperative to factor in the cost of living when determining where to take your next healthcare travel job. Make sure to consider rent costs versus the housing stipend you will receive. If the travel nursing company offers a lower housing stipend than current market rental prices, it will impact your take-home salary.
Location can have a big impact on your overall earnings. For example, if you take an assignment in an intensive care unit in California you will make more money per hour than an intermediate care unit nurse in Georgia but, the nurse in Georgia will probably end up earning more money because of the lower cost of living. Travel nurse specialty jobs usually make more money in states considered less desirable because the cost of living is less.
Salaries can also differ between travel nurse companies and may vary depending on which certifications you have or the specialty you work in. For example, pediatric travel nurses tend to get paid a higher hourly rate than med surg nursing.
Whether you are at the end of your contract or looking to find your first travel nursing job, Health Carousel Travel Nursing has something for everyone. We offer Full Circle Support to help you build travel nurse careers. Sign in to OnDemand to get the latest nursing news and available jobs in travel nurse specialties. Contact one of our Health Carousel Travel Nursing recruiters to discuss our travel nurse assignments and plan the next step of your travel nursing journey today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What travel nurses are most in demand?
Emergency room nurses are always in high demand. Depending on patient acuity, travel nurse specialties like Intensive care nurses (ICU) and progressive care unit (PCU) nurses are usually in high demand. An operating room nurse will always have an opportunity to find travel nurse assignments. Telemetry travel nurses are always needed throughout the country as well. Other high-demand travel nurse specialty jobs include labor and delivery and pediatric travel nurses. Speak with your travel nursing company to find the current in-demand travel nurse specialty jobs available.
What state needs travel nurses the most?
According to Travelnursing.com, California has the highest need for travel nurses, and this will continue until 2030. California has specific laws regarding safe nurse-to-patient ratios so there will always be an increased need for nurses. Travel nurse specialty jobs like intermediate care unit nurses and progressive care unit nurses will enjoy knowing there are laws regarding safe nurse-to-patient ratios and not have the added stress of an increased patient caseload.
Are travel nurses in demand?
Travel nurses are always in high demand due to various instances such as increased patient census and acuity, staff medical leave, seasonal travelers like snowbirds in Florida, and cyclical illnesses such as the flu. The demand for travel nurse specialty jobs varies in different cities throughout the year. Even if your first choice travel assignment location isn’t available at the specific time you are looking, it will most likely become in demand at a different point in the year. Travel nurses will always be in demand, and being flexible about assignment locations will ensure you always have travel nurse assignments.
Midge Lee is a registered nurse with six years of experience in burn, trauma, emergency medicine, and intensive care. She has also dabbled in travel nursing and home health. Midge enjoys writing about a range of topics—from self-care and wellness to hospital haikus.