Maximize Your Potential Income In Travel Healthcare

nurse walking with patient

You work hard for the money — so let’s double it

Nursing and other healthcare professions always rank up on the lists of most stressful jobs — and for good reason. You are quite literally, taking others’ lives in your hands, and managing their physical and mental health. Though most of us agree this should mean these are also society’s most high paid roles, anyone in healthcare professions can attest to that not really being the case.

But, there is a way to do the profession you love, and make nearly double the money, sometimes more, from a traditional nursing or allied health profession position — travel healthcare. In most states, traveling healthcare workers are making approximately double what a traditional healthcare worker makes for the same position.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, typical hourly pay for a traditional nurse position is around $1600 weekly. On the other hand, weekly travel nursing pay was around $3200. In South Dakota, for example, they are even making 287% more. That’s a serious difference.

So, what would you do with double the income? Maybe you can pay off a debt you’ve been carrying awhile, or invest in your kids’ college fund. You could pay off student loans faster, save for a down payment on a home, or simply enjoy a higher quality of life with more adventures.

While most healthcare professionals didn’t join the industry for the money, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey workplace happiness report shows that earning a higher income led to increased job satisfaction, finding more meaning in their work, and even being less likely to quit than others. In the survey, workers making more than $150,000 per year were “very satisfied” with their job, while only 40% of those who made under $50,000 reported that same sentiment. So, while it isn’t the only factor in job, and life satisfaction, it does play a significant role in ensuring a long term fit at work, and enough money to live comfortably and support your family outside of work.

Here’s what healthcare professionals should consider when they weigh the financial pros and cons of switching from traditional to travel healthcare placements.

Consider more than just the hourly wage — how per diem reimbursements impact total income

When you are comparing two travel nursing or allied healthcare profession placements, it can seem simple to check out the hourly or weekly pay, and determine one is a better choice or not. But, that would leave out some important nuances that seasoned travel healthcare workers know to look for. Specifically, per diem reimbursements, meaning the tax free benefits you can be reimbursed for leave additional money to be made, including lodging fees, meals and incidental expenses, and sometimes other categories.

So, do the math to determine your total taxable income, and total weekly tax free reimbursement capabilities, before ruling out a job simply because it has a lower hourly wage. Compare these two different scenarios to further understand the possibilities with reimbursements:

Placement 1:

Total taxable income: $900
Total weekly tax free reimbursement: $1300
Estimated net take home pay (after taxes): $2044.84

Placement 2:

Total taxable income: $1,134
Total weekly tax free reimbursement: $1086
Estimated net take home pay (after taxes): $2034.02


It’s common to scan placements just for highest hourly rates— that’s why we want to break it down for you to ensure you see the underlying benefits tax free per diem reimbursement has for your total take home pay. The first placement has a higher cost of living, calling for higher reimbursement rates, so it has fewer total taxes taken out. The second placement, though it boasts a higher hourly rate than the first, has a lower weekly reimbursement rate.

So, while it seems the higher per hour rate is better at first, a full comparison reveals the take home pay to be higher, after the other factors, with the lower hourly rate.


Girl in Florida

Carefully choosing location to mitigate cost of living

We all know buying a sandwich in New York City is a much different price than at a small sports bar in rural Kansas. This logic extends to housing, personal spending, groceries, and everything else you might need in your new city, which traveling healthcare professionals can select themselves. So, you might carefully consider, if you are trying to maximize your take-home pay, whether choosing a city with a lower cost of living (COL), that still offers a well-paid placement, might lead to more savings than living in a popular, booming metropolis. This isn’t always the case, but is worth researching as you determine what city is best for you.

If you are looking for exciting city life in your next placement, you can still check out cool cities to live in that have lower costs of living than others, such as Bend, Oregon, St. Petersburg, Florida, or Madison, Wisconsin, who Thrillest reports has lower COL than other major cities. You can also consider more suburban and rural settings, which typically have lower COL as well.

Creative ways to maximize potential income in travel healthcare

If you are hoping to make double the traditional pay, there are some specific tips you can use to maximize that potential, including:

Don’t take the first placement you see:

Do the math:

Ask the right questions:

Don’t forget the extra money-making opportunities:

Finally, remember that although everyone would prefer double the income, the perfect placement might not just be a financial decision — there are multiple other benefits to consider. We want you to love the work you are doing, and take a deep look at all the factors together, so you can make the most money possible but in a setting where you can thrive, and can’t wait to go back each day.

Apply to positions nationwide when you find jobs through Coast Medical Service today!

May 23, 2023Travel NursingCharles Stover

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