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2 Ways to Increase Your Travel Nurse Salary: Location + Demand

Throughout the U.S., the need for registeredtravel nurses is growing fast. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12 percent increase in job availability for RNs by the year 2028.

For those with a willingness to travel, opportunities abound, and these opportunities often pay more and provide a wider range of benefits than traditional jobs.

With a predicted increase in demand for travel nurses, it can be expected that 2020 will see an increase in the average salary for travel nurses, too.

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1. Know which specialties have the highest demand for travel nurses

When considering how to earn the most pay as a travel nurse, it’s wise to consider which specialties are in the highest demand.

Medical-surgical nurses

Medical-surgical nurses provide care to patients recovering from a broad range of illnesses or injuries. They’re typically employed in nearly every unit of a hospital, providing acute care and working with patients, doctors and other nurses to coordinate care for each patient in their unit.

According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, it’s the largest nursing specialty in the U.S.

Telemetry nurses

Telemetry nurses work with patients as they transition out of intensive or critical care. Many hospitals offer specific telemetry or progressive care units while others employ telemetry nurses in critical care units or other units throughout the hospital.

According to Payscale, travel telemetry nurses earned one of the top travel nurse salaries in 2021, with the average telemetry nurse earning $67 per hour — a number that can only be expected to rise in 2023.


Emergency room nurses

Emergency room nurses are consistently in high demand. According to a study that was published by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the number of emergency room department visits across the U.S. has continually risen since the 1990s.

Travel nurses who are able to handle the fast-paced environment that comes with emergency room care are likely to earn an above-average travel nurse salary and continually be in high demand across the country.

2. Consider locations and the cost of living as a travel nurse

When it comes to finding a travel nurse job with the best pay, it’s also important to consider things such as the job’s location and its cost of living. There are some cities that pay higher average salaries than others, including Los Angeles and Chicago.

However, these cities also come with above-average costs of living. For example, according to BestPlaces, the overall cost of living in Los Angeles is more than 73 percent above the U.S. average.

Nurses who’ve chosen to accept the housing stipend in lieu of provided lodging may not find that their stipend stretches as far as they thought it would in some cases. It’s important to be aware of these details so you can work with your travel nurse recruiter to ensure appropriate compensation.

travel nurses wearing PPE
Travel Nurses in action wearing PPE

Those looking to make the most of their travel nurse salary may want to consider locations such as Oklahoma City, where the cost of living is nearly 15 percent below the national median, yet the median income isn’t much below the national average. Other cities with similar statistics include Charlotte, Kansas City and Lexington.

RELATED: Hot: 5 Ways to Increase Your Nursing Salary

By using the information above and searching for travel nurse jobs that are in high demand and in cities that offer higher pay and a lower cost of living, travel nurses can easily maximize their travel nurse salary in 2022.

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