Understanding Your Travel Nursing Pay Package

November 6th, 2017 | Posted by bbarr in Travel Nursing

According to the U.S Department of Labor, nursing careers are expected to be among the fastest-growing occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data lists median hourly rates for RNs at $32.91.

Pay packages for travel nurses tend to be higher than those for permanent positions because they often factor in additional benefits including housing allowance, medical and dental insurance, travel stipends or per diem pay.

Slicing your pay package pie   

If you have questions about your travel nursing pay package, you’re not alone! Think of your total hourly rate as an entire pie, and then take it piece by piece to better understand how your compensation is broken down and what makes the most financial sense for you.

Total compensation can, but doesn’t necessarily have to, factor in a variety of benefits including:


Accommodations for living or a stipend for reimbursement for living expenses.


Medical, dental, vision and life insurance are available.

Per Diem Pay

Funds that can be given to an employee without an exchange of receipts and cover lodging and meals for days an employee is away from home.

Travel Money

Funds for expenses incurred to, and from, your short-term travel nursing assignments including airfare and rental expense.

License & Reimbursement

Funds for required certifications and licenses.

Tax implications

As you take advantage of these benefits, your hourly taxed rate decreases. Everyone loves tax-free money, and some of the pieces of your pay package like travel and licensure expenses can be earned tax-free. However, the IRS has strict guidelines on what money you can pocket without paying Uncle Sam.

For example, if you accept tax-free per diem, it’s imperative that you stay above board by following the IRS guidelines of ‘Duplication of Expenses’ and have a valid tax home. Your tax-free earnings also impact other important, but easily forgotten items, like social security. Tax time can be tricky waters so be sure to brush up on your knowledge and consult with a tax expert well before next April.

Selecting your benefits and crunching your pay package numbers might not be your cup of tea, but it’s a vital part of the travel nurse profession. Contact your recruiter or visit us online with any questions. We are here to help.


Leave a Reply