Travel nursing offers excellent pay, but there are some ways you can boost your earnings even further. Consider taking a side hustle to supplement your income and work with agencies that can offer high-paying assignments.
Another way to maximize your earnings is by choosing the right assignment location. Choose a low-cost area to keep your non-taxed housing stipend (or live with friends/ family and save that money). Flexibility also helps you earn more, as nurses who jump on rapid response assignments typically make higher salaries.
Set a Strict Budget
Boosting your travel nurse pay puts extra cash in your pockets for exploring new locations on your off days, paying off debt, or saving for retirement. While you can’t control what your agency pays, you can take several steps to maximize your earnings.
Find an agency that discloses salary ranges on their job listings so you can evaluate multiple offers before accepting a contract. Research indicates that asking for competing bids increases your negotiating power.
Choose assignments that match your nursing specialty, especially ones in high demand. These assignments typically have higher hourly rates and offer a greater chance of extending if you like the facility or staff.
So, how much can travel nurses make? Travel nurses are eligible for per diem pay, which includes compensation for housing, meals, and incidentals during an assignment. Make sure you understand your agency’s per diem policy and work to maximize it. You can also earn additional money by working overtime on your project. Be sure to negotiate your overtime rate and be prompt when completing your paperwork. Travel agencies often give bonus payments to their most reliable travelers.
Pay Off Your Debt
As a travel nurse, you’ll work in many different areas of the country. This will give you a variety of experiences and can help you make valuable connections in the healthcare field. However, this flexibility can also make keeping your finances in order hard. If you carry a lot of debt, paying it off quickly is essential.
You can increase your travel nurse’s salary by working overtime. However, consider the physical and emotional toll of additional hours on top of your regular assignment.
Another way to boost your travel nurse salary is by choosing an assignment with a non-taxed housing stipend. Travel nurses often choose to rent or buy their housing instead of using agency-coordinated housing. By doing this, you can save on housing costs and use the extra money to pay off your debt. This is one of the best ways to maximize your earnings as a travel nurse.
Take the Tax-Free Stipend
When traveling as a travel nurse, taking advantage of every tax-free benefit is essential. Although your agency may try to talk you into reimbursing you for housing, it’s always best to push to get the non-taxable stipend. This will allow you to put more money in your pocket each paycheck.
You must show that you are duplicating living expenses between your travel assignments to qualify for these stipends. This means paying for utilities and rent at your permanent home while also renting short-term housing at your contract location.
In addition, you must maintain your “tax home”. This is where the IRS considers you to have a primary residence, and it must differ from where you work. You must record your permanent home maintenance costs, such as mortgage payments and rent, to prove this. Keeping these records will help you avoid being audited by the IRS. It’s also a good idea to consult with a tax specialist familiar with travel nursing. They will be able to ensure you are following all the rules and taking advantage of every potential deduction.
Research High-Cost-of-Living Areas
As a travel nurse, it’s essential to research the location of each assignment you are considering. The cost of living can vary significantly from one state to another, dramatically cutting your earnings. You should also ensure that your chosen agency has contracts in the cities or states where you want to work. For example, if you travel to Alaska or Hawaii, you must ensure that the company you are interested in has contract availability there.
The agency you choose can also impact your earning potential. Some agencies pay higher rates than others. Selecting an agency that offers more opportunities to earn higher salaries is essential, especially if you want to maximize your earnings as a travel nurse.
If you want to work with a large agency that pays high rates, check out Aya Healthcare. This company has an excellent reputation and is known for its vast selection of assignments. If you’re looking for a smaller agency with a more personal feel, consider NuWest Medical. This agency has a quick deployment process and offers nurses competitive pay rates.
Experience as a travel nurse can boost your resume, help you find a permanent job, and make your future assignments even more lucrative. Plus, it’s great for your mental health to leave the comfort of your home and travel to new places.
Travel nurses typically get a higher hourly rate than other nursing employees and competitive job packages, including housing, meal allowances, stipends, and transportation costs. Plus, they can usually negotiate their pay rate when applying for an assignment.
The most critical factor in maximizing your earnings as a travel nurse is knowing what factors influence your paycheck. These include your specialty, shift of work, and cost-of-living location.
If you need clarification on your ideal specialties, speak with an experienced travel nurse recruiter who can provide information on pay rates and demand for specific areas of nursing. For example, med/surg and ER nurses usually have a lot of assignments available. But if you are interested in a room with continual high demand, such as neonatal intensive care nursing, you can negotiate a higher pay rate.
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