Nurse salary concept

In times when money is tight, there are some ways you could earn more money as a travel nurse. You just need to know how. Travel nursing can be a profitable career if you choose your contracts wisely. If you’re a travel nurse looking to boost your income,  we’ve compiled some helpful tips in this article.

‘Crisis’ assignments

One of the best ways to want to make more money as a travel nurse is by taking assignments classed as ‘urgent’. These assignments require nurses to work fast, in high-pressure environments, and you will have fewer options on locations. However, on the positive side, these types of assignments tend to be shorter, and are a way to make good money fast.

To do an assignment like this, you NEED your paperwork ready straight away. These documents must be submitted to the agency as quickly as possible.

It’s important to note that this won’t be an easy assignment, hence why the pay is so good. If it is a crisis assignment because of COVID-19, you must consider the risks involved. However, if you’re looking to earn the most you can in a short period of time, these crisis/urgent assignments are a good option, despite the pressures they present. However, for the sake of your mental health, it may be a sound idea to take breaks between these assignments. Take a vacation afterwards and enjoy some downtime.

Location, Location, Location

The location of your assignments can massively impact your income as a travel nurse. There are some locations, such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, where the pay is high, but so is the cost of living. Both pay and the cost of living have to be taken into account. Southern states tend to provide lower pay, but in-turn offer lower living costs.

Being 100% flexible in your location is the best way to make more money. Although, finding the highest paying job with the lowest living costs can definitely help you keep more of your earnings. The best way to make these types of decisions is do your research and speak to your recruiter.


Finding well priced housing is essential. It can also impact how much money you earn. There are normally two options with housing: use housing given to you by the agency, or take a housing stiped. A stiped offers more ways for you to save money and earn more, such as:

  • Stay with your friends or family – The rent you pay to them would most likely cost less than paid accommodation.
  • Shared housing – moving into a shared house could be much cheaper than living alone during your assignment. If you think about it, how much time will you actually spend at home during your assignment? If the answer is not a lot, then shared housing might be a good option. You’re likely to spend most of your time working, exploring, spending time with your new colleagues, so you may only be at the accommodation to eat and sleep. Not only is it a cheaper option, but you can find nice rooms and have the chance to meet new people.
  • Join other nurses – similar to the shared house, if you bring another nurse with you that is taking on the same assignment or works in the area, you both could halve the accommodation costs.

Overall, choosing your housing wisely is essential as it can massively increase/decrease your income, so it’s wise to consider your housing options carefully.

travel nurse talking to agency via video call

Nursing Specialism

Since non-specialized nurses are generally paid less, choosing a specialism could increase your pay significantly. Nurses who have an area of specialism are highly sought for their skills, which leads to better options for negotiating your pay. Some of the higher paying specialities include:

Of course, the amount you receive highly depends on your skills, experience, and your location. The numbers on the higher end of the scale generally represent nurses who have 20+ years of experience.

Final Thoughts

It’s not impossible for travel nurses to earn more money than nurses on permanent contracts. However, you will need to research what state or area is more profitable for you to work in. To summarize the article, your options include: taking on crisis assignments, getting work in a high-earning area, living with friends or during an assignment, or finding a specialism. Even following just one or two of these tips, you could see a major boost in pay.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the more experience you have, the more options you have. When you first start out, you may not have as many choices, but they will come, and along with experience, your wage will increase as well.