How to Evaluate Your Travel Nurse Pay Package in California

Author: Coast Medical Service

Posted: January 27, 2021

Travel Nursing

Woman holding dollar bills from her travel nurse salary in California

There are tons of exciting job opportunities as a travel nurse around the country, especially when you work with a healthcare staffing agency. It’s important to stop and examine how you’re being compensated. Here are a few things to consider when looking at your travel nurse salary in California.

Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Reimbursement

Taxable income is base pay. Non-taxable reimbursements are stipends for lodging, food, and travel costs. Non-taxable income seems better at first since you get to keep more of it upfront. But consider your long term goals when evaluating your travel nurse pay package.

The IRS doesn’t consider stipends to be income, so more of them now means less Social Security when you retire. It also makes bank loans harder to get. If half of your income is non-taxable, it’ll look like you made $30,000 in a year where you actually made $60,000.

Number of Hours

Don’t just look at the weekly rate for your travel nurse salary in California, but also break it down by hours. Earning $2100 per week sounds better than $1800 per week, but if the former job contract is 40 hours each week and the latter is only 20 hours a week, ask yourself if you really need the extra $300.

There are some great gigs out there that pay very well, but wary of overworking yourself, (especially if you’re getting underpaid)! Break it down by hours to find which job is paying you the most for your time.

Where is the Job? What is the Environment Like?

Travel nursing means getting to explore different places. But if you’re staunchly a city person working in an extremely rural hospital, the money can feel not worthwhile.

Conversely, if you’re heading into a big city, consider your California travel nurse salary against the cost of living where you’re going. $2000 per week means one thing in a small rural town and something very different in a major metropolitan area.

Type of Available PPE

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, having good and easily available PPE at work is vital, but has not always been a guarantee throughout the pandemic, due to different state governments all trying to fill their demands for it. When weighing your travel nurse salary in California, factoring in whether you will have reliable access to PPE, especially in areas with high rates of the virus, is an important consideration.

Benefits and Time Off

Man signing the contract with his travel nurse pay package

Most of your benefits will come through your staffing agency, but if the hospital does offer you good benefits in exchange for a light cut to your weekly pay, it’s worth considering.

Additionally, consider time off when looking at your travel nurse salary in California. Hospitals might not give you paid vacation, but making sure that you have time to recuperate in between shifts is crucial for a healthy work-life balance.

Ultimately, what you prioritize is up to you. But these are some of the biggest factors in your travel nurse pay package, so now that you’re aware of them, you can make a more informed decision in order to pick the best jobs for you!

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