Negotiating a Travel Nurse Salary: There’s More Than Meets the Eye

Negotiating a travel nurse salary is not a straightforward task. While salaries have long been considered a measuring stick for success, for travel nurses they are only part of the picture. A good benefits package can more than make up for a low-seeming salary, and a high salary with few benefits may not be better in the end. Here are the considerations to ponder before negotiating on an offer.


Take stock of your experience, skills, certifications, licensure, and what you’re willing to do. Can you pick up and leave for a new assignment tomorrow? That’s worth quite a bit to most organizations. Are you already licensed in a particular state? That’s one less item to negotiate, which again, is worth something. How about getting some extra training? According to the All Nursing Schools website, specialties like cardio catheterization, oncology, anesthesia, and neonatal and pediatric intensive care have a hard time finding qualified nurses, so these specialties pay more.


Salaries and cost of living vary significantly across the country. California, Hawaii, and Washington DC offer the highest nursing salaries, but are also some of the most expensive places to live. If you plan to stay with family or friends and limit your leisure spending these destinations may be a good choice. Suburban and rural areas will often offer lower salaries, but you’ll likely spend less while on assignment and after – check state tax rates before making a decision because they can vary widely.

Once you know the salary range you can expect based on your value and the location in question, it’s time for a few other considerations.


Take some time to contemplate what you want. What many offers lack in salary they make up for in benefits. A high salary with small (or no) travel or living stipends, and no time off may be less beneficial than a lower offer with benefits like health insurance. These benefit packages can be complicated to sift through, but it’s essential you look closely at every detail (like how much the deductible is, etc.) and stack up the offer against your worth and your goals. Does the offer cover licensure fees or continuing education? What kind of living stipend will you receive? We recommend making a table or chart that lays out all the details of the offer so you can consider it completely.

Once you know the salary range you can expect and the benefits package you want, open the lines of communication. If you need help negotiating salary and benefit packages, call our recruiters to help: 877-699-STAT.

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LeaderStat specializes in direct care staff, interim leadership, executive recruitment, travel nursing and consulting for healthcare organizations nationwide.