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What Can I Expect To Make As A Travel Nurse?
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If you are considering an adjustment in your career path, factoring in salary only makes sense. But in the case of travel nursing, the process is not necessarily all that straightforward. Weighing the pluses and minuses means keeping in mind that much of the compensation you can realize on this job is not of the paycheck variety.

The average salary typically varies from around $25 to $45 an hour depending on shift, specialty and location. Generally, pay is greater in areas of the country where the cost of living is higher.

But overtime is another factor to consider and is likely to be contract specific with your particular agency. All things considered, it is not unusual for the wages of a given travel nurse to be more than what he or she was making as a fulltime RN.

Certain organizations even go so far as to give their travel nurses help with everyday expenses like telephone and laundry support, and a daily allowance for meals and incidentals. A health plan is almost certain to be part of the package, with full (complete) medical and dental a real possibility, perhaps without having to make any personal contributions.

But the perks don’t top with health benefits. You are almost sure to be provided with free, fully furnished, private housing at first rate apartments or hotels, or if you prefer, offered a generous housing allowance.

In addition to what has already been mentioned, an offer to sign up with a particular organization will likely include some combination of the following:

  • Paid orientations
  • Compensation for travel to, from and during assignments
  • Travel advances on an as needed basis
  • Travel card
  • Online tracking of payroll / travel expenses
  • Flexible assignment lengths
  • Weekend differentials
  • Holiday pay
  • State licensing fees paid by company
  • 401K or retirement planning

There are also travel staffing companies that offer various types of bonuses. These include sign on, referral and assignment completions bonuses, which can range from $500 to $5000, possibly more.

Another perk is flexible scheduling and a short work week. For example, a nurse might work three 12-hour shifts a week, often getting four days off in a row, making it possible to take mini-vacations to see the sights.

If you factor in all of the above benefits, it’s hard to calculate what you will be making. No doubt, it’s well over $50 an hour.

Tax Advantages

As a travel nurse, you will obviously earn your wages some distance from your “permanent” residence, referred to as your “tax” home, typically where your family resides or where you set up your bank accounts, were issued your driver’s license, or maintain other legal ties.

Since you have both your tax home and the accommodations where you stay during your current assignment to maintain, you have duplicate costs associated with housing and incidentals.

The IRS acknowledges the added burden of maintaining a home in one place while being employed in another and therefore uses a table of per diem rates for estimating the average food and housing costs in each U.S. city to determine tax breaks available to fulltime travel nurses who are eligible based on a permanent tax home and other specifications.

Two additional rules you must meet to qualify are that your tax home cannot be in the same general location as your travel assignment and your assignment cannot exceed one year, though you are allowed to accept multiple assignments and extensions on the original—typically 13 weeks in length.

To learn all the qualifying details you should consult a licensed, professional tax advisor with experience working with travel nurses.


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