Travel nursing pays well. In fact, it’s probably the primary reason why someone chooses the travel nurse lifestyle. Sure, the location and the adventure are a huge appeal for a certain free-spirited person but all in all, money talks. Below are a few questions we are frequently asked and the corresponding answers.
How much does travel nursing pay?
This is completely contingent on factors outside your control. Some states pay higher than others, some specialties get paid more than others and some positions have such an urgent need that they offer Crisis Pay. Crisis Pay can be in any state and any Specialty. That pay rate will be higher only if the candidate can get there extremely quickly and it is usually a temporary pay rate. Pay also will fluctuate based on the involvement of a VMS/MSP (see this blog for more info on those organizations), as they have a “service fee” which can dramatically cut into your weekly take home pay.
Tip: You will have the opportunity to make vastly more money by being flexible on locations and on shift.
How does travel nursing pay work?
All companies structure their pay a bit differently so it’s important to know exactly how the pay package is being presented to you. As most core staff nurses speak in terms of an hourly rate, some companies present offers that sound very appealing but if it’s a fully taxed equivalent and you aren’t doing the math, your paycheck being 32% lower may cause minor arrhythmia and a feeling of betrayal toward your Recruiter.
Other companies will confuse you with many different pay scales which also with require some math to comprehend accurately. For example, X amount hourly, plus X amount daily, adding in X amount weekly and also X amount monthly requires you to convert everything to an hourly sum to have an idea what you’re actually receiving. Getting $1000 for housing sounds wonderful but if you’re getting that monthly instead of weekly, be aware that breaks down to $250 a week.
At TRS Healthcare, our Recruiters are trained to not only explain our pay structure in great detail but also have the ability to break down the pay packages of other companies so you can have precise comparisons. Remember, you are dealing with positions typically defined as “sales” so some companies will be less than reputable with their promises just to get you in the door with them. On the flip side, we know that you may love what you do but you also need to get paid to do it. We will give you total transparency and if another deal is a bit sweeter, we’ll even point that out to you.
TRS Healthcare pays weekly, through Direct Deposit. This will include a taxable hourly rate as well as reimbursements (sometimes referred to as stipends or per diems) for lodging and meals. They are more accurately reimbursements because you are being recompensed for expenditures incurred as a traveler. This means that you will not be taxed on reimbursements. It’s an important distinction. Wages are taxed, bonuses are taxed, reimbursements are not.
Tip: Ask your Recruiter what the pre-taxed take home will be, as you know what your tax status will be far better than they do. For additional perspective, ask what the hourly equivalent would need to be for you to have travel nursing level take home pay. It’s an eye opener!
Can I negotiate higher pay with my Recruiter?
The short answer is not really. Bill rates are set with contracts negotiated between travel companies and facilities. When a VMS/MSP is involved, those bill rates are standardized between all travel companies. It’s worth asking though, as sometimes Crisis Pay rates are in effect, sometimes there is wiggle room in other areas. Building a trusted personal relationship with a Recruiter will help in situations like this, as you will know if your agent is pushing for the best deal possible for you. While not the case at TRS, some companies will increase commission for Recruiters if they can sell a position to a nurse for a lower pay rate. These things are worth knowing before negotiating.
Tip: Occasionally, there are differing bill rates for things such as Overtime. If you are partial to working as much as possible while on a contract, you can make incredibly higher pay by asking for an increased OT rate. Ask about differentials available to you and if those can be negotiated.
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