Updated: 5 States Where Nurses Make the Most and the Least Travel Nurse Pay in 2019

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
July 12, 2019
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As a travel nurse, you likely want to make the most out of your next assignment. While travel nurse pay is already typically higher than that of permanent staff nurse, some regions of the country may offer more lucrative opportunities. Doing your research ahead of time may help you better meet your personal financial goals. To help you along the way, here is some information from your trusty sidekicks at Health Carousel Travel Nursing on travel nursing locations where nurses make the most (and the least).

Where Do Travel Nurses Go to Make the Most?

Much like traditional hospital jobs, travel nurse pay varies widely by state, specialty, and degree of nursing shortage. Unlike traditional hospital jobs, however, travel nurses don’t just receive a flat amount. In addition to an hourly rate, travel nurses receive either free housing or a housing stipend. They may also receive meal and travel stipends, among other benefits. Each contract will offer different numbers based on the bill rate of the hospital and the cost of living in the area. Your living situation and lifestyle will also affect the amount of money you can make on assignments.

In short, it’s not possible to say definitively how much you will make when working as a traveler in a given state. However, below is information that will give you an idea of which states typically offer the best money to travel nurses, as well as which typically offer the least.

This salary information is taken from ZipRecruiter, a leading online resource in hiring, pay, and benefits. We’ve taken the hourly pay they provided, and then calculated what you would make in a year working each week for three 12-hour shifts. It’s important to note that this list does not factor in the extensive benefits associated with travel nurse positions—only the base pay reported in terms of yearly salary.

5 Highest-Paying States for Travel Nurses

Often touted as the reason nurses leave permanent staff jobs to travel the country is how much money one can earn by working shorter assignments in new places. But which states will give you the best bang for your buck? The true income of a travel nurse is multi-factorial, but helpful trends do appear over time. Here are the five states that typically pay travel nurses the most:

1. New York

Home to the largest city in America, New York has a high demand for travel nursing. This translates to an average salary of $91,522—the highest in the nation. 

2. Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers an average salary of $90,979. It takes the spot as the second-highest-paying state. Massachusetts is a great choice for travelers that want to experience the rich cultural history of America, as well as the city life of Boston.

3. Maryland

The average salary for travel nurses in Maryland is $86,205. Home of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is also close to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.

4. Connecticut

In the final East coast state in the top 5, Connecticut nurses make an average of $84,034. With strong universities and learning opportunities, Connecticut is a great choice for nurses looking to take their nursing careers to the next level.

5. California

In the Golden State travel nurses make an average of $83,809. The cities of Los Angeles, San Fransisco, and San Diego all provide exciting opportunities for travel nurses, and the beaches & redwood forests are a great natural escape from the hustle-bustle of big city life.

These are some of the best places to travel nurse if you want to maximize your income. However, it’s important to consider the cost of living in these areas. High rental costs for apartments will cut into your profit; conversely, they may also translate to higher housing stipends. Your recruiter will help you navigate this trade-off.

5 Lowest-Paying States for Travel Nurses

And now, a look at the five states with the lowest average salaries for travel nurses. Again, this list does not factor in the many benefits associated with travel nursing jobs—only the base pay reported in terms of yearly salary.

1. North Carolina

North Carolina has an average travel nurse salary of $65,407, making it the lowest paying state for travel nurses. The scenic beauty of the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras may make up for low pay, and Asheville, NC is quickly becoming a top destination for tourists.

2. Florida

Florida has the second lowest travel nursing salary with an average of $69,282. However, beautiful weather year-round and warm beaches may make the pay cut worth it for some travel nurses.

3. Missouri

Missouri has an average travel nursing salary of $72,596. It’s worth mentioning the state has a lower-than-average cost of living, which means you might take home more than in a higher-paying state.

4. Michigan

Michigan has an average travel nurse salary of $72,820. While this state can be cold and snowy in the winter, it blossoms in the summer, making it a great location for a summer assignment.

5. Illinois

Illinois has an average travel nursing salary of $73,513. Chicago is a great choice for nurses looking for a big city without the higher cost of living of cities on the coasts.

Despite sitting at the bottom end of the list, some of these states may offer incentives to attract the best travel nurses.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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