Travel Nurse

10 Ways to Increase Pay As a Travel Nurse

Travel nurses can enjoy earning a competitive income while exploring new places and expanding their healthcare experience. To meet financial goals effectively as a travel nurse, it’s vital to learn how to maximize pay as a travel nurse.

As a travel nurse, the key to increasing your income is being flexible with assignments and open to high-demand positions. Furthermore, be sure to take full advantage of reimbursements.

1. Take the Tax-Free Stipend

Travel nurses receive tax-free stipends in addition to hourly wages in order to cover housing and meal costs at their contract locations and maintaining permanent family homes. Such amounts do not count towards income tax liabilities.

Stipends increase take-home pay by decreasing payroll taxes that are included with wage payments such as FICA for Medicare and Social Security, enabling agencies to offer travelers higher wages.

Some candidates fear that working in one city for longer than 12 months may result in them forfeiting their tax-free stipends, according to Caruthers. While that isn’t necessarily true, one good practice would be returning between assignments to your tax home for compliance with IRS rules and maintaining tax benefits. It’s also wise to research costs of living before committing yourself fully.

2. Work Overtime

Working overtime as a travel nurse is an excellent way to increase your income. But it is important to keep in mind that extended shifts may cause burnout; so be sure to get adequate rest and nourish yourself properly.

Travel nurses are in high demand for specialty nursing jobs such as cardiac cath lab, labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units – these jobs typically offer higher pay rates and have ongoing demand.

Travel nurses also benefit from lower taxable rates than staff nurses because their hourly pay rate includes non-taxable allowances and reimbursements that reduce how much of their salary is taxed, thus increasing take-home pay. Consult with a tax professional experienced with travel nursing to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all these advantages, while an excellent agency should help walk you through all these details when signing on for assignments.

3. Take an Extension

If you enjoy where you are currently and wish to continue travel nursing, an extension may save time in terms of licensing, recertification and immunization updates – saving both effort and resources in the process.

Additionally, extending your contract gives you extra time to discover all that your current location has to offer – perhaps there’s an incredible national park, hiking trail or historical museum nearby that you haven’t experienced yet?

Contract extensions provide you and your recruiter an opportunity to renegotiate pay rates and stipend amounts. Communicating early on about extending your contract and what the facility can offer are critical. Even if they don’t extend it for some reason, that doesn’t change anything!

4. Take Advantage of Bonuses

Many travel nurse agencies include housing, meals and incidentals stipends in their compensation packages for travel nurses to ease the cost and burden of moving every assignment. These stipends tend to be non-taxable and not performance or hours based.

Travel nurses may also earn bonuses such as sign-on or completion bonuses that can bolster their salary significantly. Hospitals frequently offer these incentives to encourage nurses to complete the full length of their contracts successfully.

Profiting from extra opportunities can put extra money in your pocket for exploring a new locale on days off, advancing your career or saving for an assignment or home purchase. Furthermore, taking advantage of such extra opportunities can also help build strong professional networks to support future assignments.

5. Take High-Demand Crisis Assignments

Travel nurses seeking high-demand assignments during pandemic or natural disaster scenarios tend to opt for short-term contracts with higher base salaries and bonuses than regular assignments.

These nurses often work in critical care or trauma units and may receive shift bonuses or overtime pay. Additionally, they usually receive an increased housing stipend since finding accommodation on short notice can often prove more challenging.

Stipends may be used for rent, utilities, food and other expenses; money-savvy nurses may consider living with friends or relatives during their assignment to reduce housing costs and save some of their stipend; this allows more of their income to go toward exploring their new city on days off, paying off student loans or debt or saving for future assignments.

6. Be Selective with Your Assignments

One of the great advantages of travel nursing is being exposed to various work environments and facilities, giving you valuable experience for finding your ideal job should travel nursing become your long-term career goal.

Carefully selecting your assignments can enhance the value of your paycheck, particularly if you negotiate overtime pay with your agency in advance. With extra income at hand, this extra cash could allow you to explore a new city during off hours, take more trips between assignments, or save for retirement or pay off debt more easily.

Avoid accepting travel nurse assignments that involve complex processes and concealed bill rates that leave nurses feeling undervalued. Such tactics often result in burn-out, leading to their loss of faith in agencies as well as contributing to negative associations of the travel nursing industry.

7. Work with a Financial Professional

An efficient way to increase travel nurse pay is working with a financial professional who can guide you through tax laws and ensure you’re taking full advantage of available deductions. They may also assist with making wiser financial decisions such as choosing faster-response assignments instead of high-cost states.

Staffing agencies typically offer generous housing and travel allowances that can significantly decrease living expenses for travel nurses. By negotiating with your agency, higher rates can be obtained to give more money for food, entertainment and other needs. You could even save by sharing housing costs with another travel nurse or finding an accommodation offering roommate matching services; taking these extra steps will only boost earnings as a travel nurse!

8. Take the Tax-Free Stipend

Travel nurses frequently opt for tax-free housing stipends as an alternative to covering their housing expenses themselves. Their staffing agency will then provide them with a fully furnished apartment without worrying about utilities or maintenance expenses.

Additionally, stipends can save nurses money on license fees and the cost associated with acquiring new licenses during each assignment. Record keeping will allow for tax savings by helping reduce tax burden.

However, travel nurses should seek advice from a tax professional who specializes in travel nursing to ensure they take advantage of all available deductions and are taking full advantage of every deduction available to them. Furthermore, these specialists can work closely with nurses to prevent mistakes from being made that could incur fines or penalties from the IRS.

9. Work with a Reputable Agency

Working with a reliable agency should help you secure assignments with higher pay than you might find independently. They could even offer higher stipends.

As living costs vary from city to city, travel nurse agencies typically offer compensation packages that take this into account. This usually includes a housing stipend and daily per diem allowances to cover meals, incidentals and expenses that might occur while working abroad.

Ross says taking these stipends is one of the best ways to increase her travel nurse paycheck. “It makes a tremendous impact in my net pay,” she explained, and often finds cheaper housing costs as well as meals saved. Additionally, taking an in-demand crisis assignment may increase pay significantly as this type of work is typically scarce but can prove fruitful for travel nurses.

10. Take Advantage of Experience

As a travel nurse, you’ll experience working in different facilities and environments. While not every assignment will be your favorite, each assignment will provide valuable information on which hospitals you prefer and dislike for future searches for permanent jobs once your contract ends.

Negotiate the maximum benefits from your travel nursing career with your agency by using your experience to negotiate stipends, bonus pay and relocation pay. Take full advantage of it to maximize the potential return from this endeavor!

At the core of it all lies your own determination and creativity when it comes to increasing your travel nurse salary. Set specific goals and take tangible steps toward meeting them for results that could change lives – talk with a recruiter for more tips!

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