However close you are to graduating from nursing school, it’s always a good time to consider which specialty to get into afterward. One career path to consider is travel nursing across the US. Pay is a major factor in considering which state to work in, so stick around to find out which are the highest paying states for travel nurses.
Travel nursing has become increasingly in demand for nurses in several specialties. It’s a great option for those looking for higher-paying short-term work at various medical facilities.
The average salary varies state by state for travel nurses based on demand and specialty. The top three highest-paying states include: Idaho ($151,203), Nevada ($149,196), and Illinois ($148,382).
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What is Travel Nursing?
If you love being on the move and don’t mind putting in long hours, then travel nursing might be the perfect job for you. You get to work in different locations across the country – keeping your skills sharp and your options open.
Travel nurses work in different hospitals and departments, depending on where they need to fill staffing gaps. And it’s also a way to make more money than you would as a permanent employee in any one location.
Here’s how it works: you work for a few weeks or months at a medical facility, typically under a contract. Then, once your obligations are fulfilled (or your contract is up), you move on to the next place where you’re needed.
You might even not have to worry about finding an apartment – some employers take care of housing for you.
All sorts of positions are up for travel nurses — you just have to decide which ones you want. And there are so to choose from thanks to the recent rising travel nurse demand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the medical world, and as a result, it’s created one of the biggest worldwide shortages of nurses.
Hospitals and other medical facilities have struggled, and continue to struggle, to find enough staff to keep their facilities running smoothly. Because of COVID-19, travel nursing, amongst other types of temporary employment, is becoming more popular than ever before.
Travel nursing agencies have stepped in to provide temporary staffing solutions for these hospitals and other medical facilities. These agencies recruit nurses from all over the country and abroad and place them in positions at various facilities, providing them with an opportunity to earn serious money.
But you don’t need an agency if you’re considering travel nursing – travel nurses can also be independent contractors.
Average Travel Nursing Salary by State
Travel nurse salaries vary widely depending on where you work, how many hours you work per week (and whether those hours are on-call), and whether you’re working in an urban or rural area.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the average travel nursing salary by state. We found that the national average in the US for travel nursing is $133,540/year.
1. Travel Nurse Salary Alaska
Employers in Alaska pay a little more than Hawaii’s, which is just slightly below the national average.
The average base salary in Alaska is: $133,316/year.
2. Travel Nurse Salary Hawaii
Although employers in Hawaii pay less than the national average, you’ll benefit from a beautiful island location.
The average base salary in Hawaii is: $126,659/year.
3. Travel Nurse Salary Washington
Although Washington state employers pay the least out of the west coast states – it’s still a great location for work, and pays more than the national average.
The average base salary in Washington is: $141,096/year.
4. Travel Nurse Salary Oregon
As the middle state of the west coast, Oregon employers pay slightly more than Washington’s, but less than California’s.
The average base salary in Oregon is: $144,423/year.
5. Travel Nurse Salary California
With its high cost of living, it’s unsurprising that California travel nurse employers pay out the most out of the west coast states. Travel nurses are in the highest demand in California, and it’s the fourth-highest paying state in the US.
The average base salary in California is: $147,633/year.
6. Travel Nurse Salary Idaho
As the number one highest paying state for travel nurses, Idaho is the way to go if salary is your top priority.
The average base salary in Idaho is: $151,203/year.
7. Travel Nurse Salary Nevada
Lying south of the highest-paying state, Nevada is the second highest-paying state in the US for travel nurses.
The average base salary in Nevada is: $149,196/year.
8. Travel Nurse Salary Montana
Montana is a beautiful state with lots of wide-open space. The cost of living is low, and the job market is strong.
The average base salary in Montana is: $119,765/year.
9. Travel Nurse Salary Wyoming
Out of all the western states, Wyoming employers pay the least for travel nurses, and is the fifth lowest-paying state in the US.
The average base salary in Wyoming is: $101,317/year.
10. Travel Nurse Salary Utah
Utah is a great option if you want to stay on the west and make well into six figures while doing it.
The average base salary in Utah is: $126,093/year.
11. Travel Nurse Salary Colorado
Despite its high cost of living (especially in the Denver area), Colorado employers pay below the national average for travel nurses.
The average base salary in Colorado is: $118,832/year
12. Travel Nurse Salary Arizona
Arizona employers pay out the most out of southwestern states, and it’s the fifth highest paying state in the US.
The average base salary in Arizona is: $145,900/year.
13. Travel Nurse Salary New Mexico
Travel nurse employers in New Mexico pay the least out of all southwestern states, but just slightly below the national average.
The average base salary in New Mexico is: $125,036/year.
14. Travel Nurse Salary Texas
As the second highest-demand state in the US for travel nurses, there are plenty of opportunities for travel nurses in Texas. And average pay is just a hair below the national average.
The average base salary in Texas is: $132,088/year.
15. Travel Nurse Salary Oklahoma
Travel nurses in Oklahoma make close to the national average pay, but with inexpensive housing options.
The average base salary in Oklahoma is: $130,724/year.
16. Travel Nurse Salary North Dakota
The cost of living is relatively low in North Dakota, and the job market is strong, so you’ll get paid well as a travel nurse.
The average base salary in North Dakota is: $131,667/year.
17. Travel Nurse Salary South Dakota
South Dakota employers offer the second lowest salary for travel nurses in the US, but still close to six figures.
The average base salary in South Dakota is: $93,853/year.
18. Travel Nurse Salary Nebraska
Nebraska has one of the lowest rates of RN per capita in the US, and is also one of the most affordable states for housing and living expenses overall.
The average base salary in Nebraska is: $123,047/year.
19. Travel Nurse Salary Kansas
Kansas is another state with low RN rates per capita, but is also among the more affordable places to live and work as a travel nurse.
The average base salary in Kansas is: $121,537/year.
20. Travel Nurse Salary Minnesota
The cost of living is fairly low compared to other parts of the US, but higher in the Minneapolis metro.
The average base salary in Minnesota is: $126,778/year.
21. Travel Nurse Salary Iowa
If you want a better salary and lower cost of living in the midwest, consider Iowa.
The average base salary in Iowa is: $130,292/year.
22. Travel Nurse Salary Missouri
Missouri employers pay the absolute least out of all fifty states for travel nurses, but offers a lower cost of living.
The average base salary in Missouri is: $89,983/year.
23. Travel Nurse Salary Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers some great opportunities for travel nurses looking for employment, and the cost of living is quite reasonable.
The average base salary in Wisconsin is: $144,556/year.
24. Travel Nurse Salary Illinois
Illinois is the third top state in the US for travel nurse pay, making it the highest paying state in the midwest.
The average base salary in Illinois is: $148,382/year,
25. Travel Nurse Salary Michigan
Michigan is a popular choice for travel nurses to work in, and is a great place to live – whether it’s long or short-term.
The average base salary in Michigan is: $136,707/year.
26. Travel Nurse Salary Indiana
Indiana employers pay over the national average, and this state is a great option for cost of living.
The average base salary in Indiana is: $136,082/year.
27. Travel Nurse Salary Ohio
Travel nurses can make some great pay here with opportunities in the Cleveland area.
The average base salary in Ohio is: $132,568/year.
28. Travel Nurse Salary Arkansas
Nursing salaries in Arkansas aren’t as impressive as those of other states, and there’s a good chance you’ll work in a rural area, like the Ozarks.
The average base salary in Arkansas is: $125,489/year.
29. Travel Nurse Salary Louisiana
Louisiana employers pay out the least out of the southeast states, and is the third lowest paying state in the US.
The average base salary in Louisiana is: $94,049/year.
30. Travel Nurse Salary Kentucky
Out of all southeast states, Kentucky employers pay the most – and at slightly above the national average.
The average base salary in Kentucky is: $135,604/year.
31. Travel Nurse Salary Tennessee
If you work near Memphis or Nashville, there are many opportunities available for making good money as a travel nurse.
The average base salary in Tennessee is: $126,282/year.
32. Travel Nurse Salary Mississippi
Travel nurses can still make six figures in Mississippi and benefit from low cost of living.
The average base salary in Mississippi is: $115,569/year
33. Travel Nurse Salary Alabama
Along with Mississippi, they are still plenty of travel nursing opportunities with six figure pay.
The average base salary in Alabama is: $118,602/year
34. Travel Nurse Salary Vermont
Vermont is a popular state for travelers because it offers an escape from dense city life, and offers decent pay for travel nurses.
The average base salary in Vermont is: $123,081/year
35. Travel Nurse Salary New York
Unsurprisingly with its high cost of living and population – New York state pays out the most in the northeast region, and is the fourth highest-demand state for travel nurses.
The average base salary in New York is: $145,327/year.
36. Travel Nurse Salary Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a lot to offer for travel nurses, including decent pay.
The average base salary in Pennsylvania is: $125,242/year.
37. Travel Nurse Salary West Virginia
The cost of living in West Virginia is lower than other states, so you can get more out of your travel nursing pay.
The average base salary in West Virginia is: $123,979/year.
38. Travel Nurse Salary Maine
Maine is a beautiful state with lots of natural beauty and plenty of fun things to do outside of the travel nurse workday.
The average base salary in Maine is: $127,051/year.
39. Travel Nurse Salary New Hampshire
New Hampshire is an attractive destination for travel nurses who want to make good money on the northeast coast.
The average base salary in New Hampshire is: $112,004/year.
40. Travel Nurse Salary Massachusetts
Although the average pay is on the lower end, Massachusetts overs lots of culture, especially in the Boston area.
The average base salary in Massachusetts is: $108,733/year.
41. Travel Nurse Salary Rhode Island
Rhode Island is the fourth lowest-paying state in the US for travel nurses, but still makes it in the six-figure range.
The average base salary in Rhode Island is: $100,607/year.
42. Travel Nurse Salary Connecticut
Travel nurses have great opportunities in areas like Hartford or Stamford with decent pay.
The average base salary in Connecticut is: $104,433/year.
43. Travel Nurse Salary New Jersey
New Jersey employers pay well above the national average, and is a great option for east coast travel nursing.
The average base salary in New Jersey is: $143,232/year.
44. Travel Nurse Salary Delaware
Even though it’s small, Delaware has big opportunity for travel nurse positions and pay.
The average base salary in Delaware is: $140,952/year.
45. Travel Nurse Salary Maryland
Although housing can be tough to lock down on, Maryland is a great travel nurse option with above national average pay.
The average base salary in Maryland is: $142,848/year.
46. Travel Nurse Salary Virginia
Virginia offers beautiful scenery and great culture for those wanting to practice as a travel nurse.
The average base salary in Virginia is: $126,990/year.
47. Travel Nurse Salary North Carolina
North Carolina is the fifth highest-demand state for travel nurses, offering just above the national average salary.
The average base salary in North Carolina is: $134,667/year.
48. Travel Nurse Salary South Carolina
Although South Carolina employers offer less than North Carolina’s, it’s still a great option for southeast coast travel nursing.
The average base salary in South Carolina is: $125,152/year.
49. Travel Nurse Salary Georgia
Georgia employers offer close to the national average pay for travel nurses with lower cost of living.
The average base salary in Georgia is: $131,958/year.
50. Travel Nurse Salary Florida
Last, but not least – Florida is the third highest-demand state for travel nurses, and offers decent pay.
The average base salary in Florida is: $129,859/year.
Highest Paying Travel RN Jobs to Look for
For registered nurses (RNs), these are the top paying jobs to consider if you’re getting into travel nursing. Salaries are based on a national average and vary from state to state.
Operating Room RN
An operating room registered nurse (OR RN) is responsible for ensuring the safety of patients during surgical procedures.
This can include everything from monitoring the patient’s vital signs, to administering anesthesia, and keeping track of instruments and equipment used throughout the procedure.
The average base pay for an OR RN is: $168,184
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) RN
An Intensive Care Unit registered nurse (ICU RN) provides advanced medical care and life support to critically ill patients.
They work with physicians to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care and treatment, including helping them determine when it’s time to transfer out of the ICU into regular inpatient care.
The average base pay for an ICU RN is: $156,837
Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) RN
A Post-Anesthesia Care Unit registered nurse (PACU RN) provides support after a patient has been put under general anesthesia during surgery or other medical procedure.
This includes monitoring their vital signs, ensuring they’re breathing normally, and administering pain medication if needed.
The average base pay for a PACU RN is: $154,402
Emergency Room RN
An Emergency Room registered nurse (ER RN) provides emergency medical care to patients who need it immediately after being brought into an ER facility by ambulance or other means.
They check vitals, give any necessary medications, perform tests on them (such as x-rays), and more — the list goes on. ER nurses also help coordinate patient transfers between facilities when necessary.
The average base pay for a PACU RN is: $151,634
Check out our other breakdown of nurse base pay per position.
Take the Next Step in Your Nursing Career with Us
There’s a lot of monetary and career opportunity waiting for nursing students, like you. after graduation. Travel nursing is a great option for those looking for higher-paying short-term work at various medical facilities. And it’s important to keep salary expectations at top of mind.
But the first step into a travel nursing career is acing your classes and exams.
You’ll need more than lecture notes to help – SimpleNursing offers comprehensive resources specifically for nursing students.
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