In a nutshell: yes. Here’s why:
Hospital employers need travel nurses. Some times more than others.
Is a hospital in a seasonal location like Nevada or Arizona, where snowbirds flock in winter and swell patient populations? Then, they need travelers. And like most commercial situations, it’s a questions of supply and demand.
When demand is high and supply is low, opportunities will increase and travel nurse pay will rise.
Is the hospital in a location that is having a hard time attracting staff nurses? The reality is that some rural and remote locations are routinely short staffed. You may not want to make a location like this your forever home, but then again, you may! If high pay for 13 weeks sounds good to you, travel nursing in a location like this may be just what the doctor ordered.
Perhaps the hiring hospital is in a location that has a huge medical community, but just can’t hire enough full-time registered nurses. These locations can be ideal for travelers, especially if the cost of living there is reasonable.
Don’t forget all the extras included in travel nurse compensation.
Not only do you earn an hourly wage, your travel nursing agency should also offer housing stipends, travel and license reimbursement, and perhaps additional bonuses for referrals or sign-ons. Depending on your situation, these stipends may be non-taxable, which can be a nice addition to your take-home pay. Travelers are often asked to (and happy to) work overtime hours, which at time-and-a-half, is nice extra income.
How much do travel nurses make?
According to Indeed’s data, in 2019, the average travel nurse was making $1720 a week, and an additional $13K in overtime pay. If a traveler works a full year of assignments, that’s more than 20% above the average annual pay for a staff RN, according to the BLS.
Ask yourself, why are you traveling?
If it’s mainly for the money, you may choose to work assignments back-to-back-to-back. And yes, if you’re working in a highly sought-after specialty in locations that are continually in need of travelers, you can make real bank. Many travelers receive extension after extension, and some develop such a great reputation that they become eminently hireable — and essentially have their pick of assignments.
They are also many travelers who get into the field expressly because they CAN take breaks. Work a a season of assignments and then take a month off to travel the world, pursue a passion project, or just hang out in a hammock in your back yard.
After all, depending on where you are in your career, you may decide that money is important — but it’s not the only way to add value to your life.