Travel Nurse Pay

Travel Nurse Pay

Many healthcare professionals become travel nurses because of the exceptional pay – on average traveling nurses make much more than a typical permanent staff nurse. But there’s so much other “money stuff” to think about when accepting a particular travel nurse contract aside from your hourly rate. Here are some of the most talked about topics surrounding travel nurse compensation – from travel to licensing to housing

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Getting There: Pay for your Travel Nurse Reimbursements 

Let’s state the obvious: as a travel nurse the first step of your journey will be just that – travel. You have to get where you are going! Most travel nurses choose to travel by car to their assignments. Why? Because it’s the easiest way to pack up your belongings, pets, your whole life and move it to your next assignment. Plus you’ll have transportation once you arrive. Most nursing contracts will include reimbursements for your travel expenses. 

For your initial journey, most travel nurse agencies will give a per-mile reimbursement based on the distance you are traveling. You’ll want to be aware of a maximum each way or round trip from your assignment and when you can expect the reimbursement to hit your account. As a travel nurse, you’ll want to save all your assignment-related receipts. Most agencies will require a reimbursement form and will want you to include the receipts.  

Check your contract, but most reimbursements should be “tax-free” – meaning you won’t have to pay taxes on any money given back to you as a result of travel expenses. Also, you may opt out of the travel reimbursement. This sometimes is a way to increase your take-home compensation. This is a good option if you are carpooling with someone! 

Travel Nurse Pay: Traveling Without a Car

There are some places where you cannot get there by car, particularly if you’re going overseas on an assignment. In other cases, like in a dense downtown area like Manhattan, a daily commute in a car doesn’t make sense (not to mention the exorbitant costs of parking in these areas!). In this case, you’ll want to do your research on how you’ll be able to manage a daily commute. Will you be able to rent a car? Can you bike or take public transportation? These are important facts to know before you arrive at your destination.

Housing Allowance & Per Diem

After you select your next travel nursing assignment and agree on travel nurse pay, the next thing you’ll want to know is where and how you are going to live. This is a consideration that you should think about when you go over your travel nurse contract with your agency. 

Some agencies will provide a per diem (literally “per day”) allowance. This is a set amount of money per day that you receive for meals and incidentals during your contract. This per diem is good for both your days that you are working as well as your days off. As a general rule, your housing and per diem allowance will be tax free so long a you have an established “tax home” that the IRS defines. 

When it comes to the housing allowance, it will depend on your situation. Most travel nurses like to make their own housing arrangements. This way you can have more control over where and how you live. There are now a variety of services available to help you find the perfect location like AirBnB and Furnished Finder. When you find your own housing, most agencies will offer you either a monthly subsidy or an increased pay rate to cover your housing expenses and this is usually based on the cost of living wherever your assignment may be. 

Your other option here is to eliminate the hassle of finding your own housing and go with a full service agency that will offer free, private housing. With Wanderly, it’s easy to seek out these particular opportunities. When this happens, generally the agency will take care of providing you with a furnished, private apartment and pay for utilities (usually with some sort of monthly cap). You’d still most likely be responsible for phone/cable/internet services. 

Reimbursement for Licensing and Continuing Ed 

Licencing and certifications are one of the most important aspects of your travel nurse application. Traveling nurses must be licensed in the state that their desired assignment is in. Many agencies will reimburse you for your temporary or permanent license. You’ll also want to check with your agency to see if any CEUs taken while on assignment are reimbursable

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

All of these different reimbursements can make the difference between an okay travel nurse contract and a great one. You’ll want to check with your agency on all of these points before signing a contract to make sure you get the best possible experience during your next travel nursing assignment.