FAQ: Do Travel Nurses Earn More Than Staff Nurses?

Nursing can be a highly lucrative field. While nursing requires an impressive amount of education and hospitals place a lot of responsibility on nurses’ shoulders, medical facilities desperately need new nurses. There has always been a high demand for nurses in the job market, but now more than ever before, medical facilities are doing everything in their power to find and retain nurses—including offering more competitive pay.

Hospitals and medical facilities are finding more nursing help by hiring travel nurses. Travel nurses work at multiple facilities within the same fiscal year on a contract basis. This type of nursing broadens hospitals’ and medical facilities’ talent pool immensely since they now can hire outside their local talent. However, as travel nursing becomes more and more popular due to its flexibility and travel appeal, it’s time to ask—does travel nursing pay more than staff nursing?

Staff Nurses Versus Travel Nurses

The difference between a staff nurse and a travel nurse is a straightforward distinction. The former is a professional nurse who has committed to full-time employment at a single facility for the foreseeable future. As a result, they enjoy all the same benefits as any full-time worker and can establish roots where they work.

On the other end of the spectrum, travel nurses constantly move from facility to facility and work on a contract basis. While they cannot claim the same benefits as a full-time staff nurse or establish roots in the workplace, they have greater freedoms than their full-time counterparts, making their lifestyle more attractive to some individuals.

It is possible to transition from a full-time nurse or a student nurse to a travel nurse, but you are likely wondering which nursing position is the most lucrative?

Salary Estimates and Expectations for Travel Nursing and Staff Nursing

Does a resident nurse or a travel nurse get paid more? The most straightforward answer is that travel nurses tend to get paid more in most circumstances. Travel nurses work on a contract basis for hospitals that need their services—they are only paid for the work they can do within a fiscal year. However, travel nurses tend to receive a higher base pay for their time than staff nurses. 

This discrepancy is because hospitals hire travel nurses on a contract basis when a hospital faces a shortage of nurses on staff.

For this reason, hospitals bring travel nurses on to compensate in a high-stress and chaotic environment that they are not entirely familiar with. As a result of the nature of their job, the average annual pay for travel nurses is about $113,000 a year versus a staff nurse’s $71,000 yearly salary. Additionally, travel nurses can also receive stipends for the following:

  • Housing at your assignment location
  • Travel to and from the assignment
  • Meals and incidental expenses

However, it is important to note that a staff nurse will make more than a travel nurse if the travel nurse does not accept enough contracts within that fiscal year. 

Are You Looking for Your Next Career as a Nurse?

Both staff nursing and travel nursing are great career paths with significant pay. It just depends on your lifestyle and work preferences. If you are looking for a permanent position as a staff nurse or looking for a little more flexibility as a travel nurse, our recruiters at Fidé can help. We help qualified nurses find their next placement at a medical facility and ensure they receive the pay and benefits they deserve. Contact our recruiting team at Fidé today to learn more about travel nursing or find your next residency.

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