Travel Nurse Uncategorized

Highest Paying States For Travel Nurses In The USA

Nursing has long been a respected and essential profession, and it’s evolving in noteworthy ways. The rising need for healthcare services, coupled with the ongoing shortage of nurses throughout the United States, has paved the way for an exciting and well-paying career path: travel nursing. These bold healthcare experts take on temporary assignments across various states, addressing crucial gaps while reaping the rewards of attractive compensation packages. Our article explores the highest paying states in the USA for travel nurses and the factors that affect the salary. We will have a quick walk-through of how to increase your salary as a travel nurse. 

Top 10 highest-paying states for travel nurses

If you’re a nurse who loves adventure and wants good pay, keep reading. We’re about to reveal the best states that pay travel nurses well. Here is the list of the top 10 highest paying states for travel CNA, registered nurses, and any travel providers.


1. California

Nestled along the iconic Pacific coastline, California boasts not only stunning landscapes but also some of the most attractive pay rates for travel nurses. They can earn as high as $185,900 in California in cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, etc. With its diverse healthcare settings, including world-renowned medical facilities and specialized clinics, California offers lots of opportunities for travel nurses. The state’s high cost of living is offset by the enticing pay, making it an appealing choice for those seeking both financial rewards and a sun-soaked lifestyle.

California is not an NLC (Nurse Licensure Compact) state and travel nurses need to acquire a state license which can cost around $400.

NLC status Non-NLC state
Nurse license fee Around $400
Major high-paying cities San Diego, Los Angeles
Average hourly pay in California $89.38
Average annual salary $185,900
Number of traveling nurse jobs 12042

2. Hawaii

Imagine working as a travel nurse in the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Beyond the allure of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Hawaii stands out as a top-paying state for travel nurses. The annual salary ranges from $192,000 to $157,850 for a travel nurse in Hawaii. The unique healthcare demands of the islands, combined with the inherent challenges of recruiting medical professionals to remote locations, result in higher compensation rates. For those who wish to blend their nursing expertise with a tropical escape, Hawaii offers a truly remarkable opportunity. The top cities in Hawaii are Honolulu, East Honolulu, and Pearl City.

Hawaii is a non-NLC state and the state license fee will be around $300 if you are looking for working with facilities in this state.

NLC status Non-NLC state
Nurse license fee Around $300
Major high-paying cities Honolulu, East Honolulu, Pearl City
Average hourly pay in Hawaii $75.89
Average annual salary $157,850
Number of traveling nurse jobs 314

3. Oregon

With its diverse landscapes ranging from rugged coastlines to lush forests, Oregon is not only a nature lover’s haven but also a hotspot for well-paying travel nursing assignments. The state’s commitment to healthcare excellence and growing demand for nursing professionals translates into attractive compensation packages. The annual average traveling nurse salary is around $148,640 according to studies. From Portland to Eugene, travel nurses in Oregon find themselves in an environment that values their skills and rewards their efforts.

Oregon is not participating in NLC and the travel nurses need to pursue the state license which costs around $200.

NLC status Non-NLC state
Nurse license fee Around $200
Major high-paying cities Portland, Eugene, Salem
Average hourly pay in Oregon $71.46
Average annual salary $148,640
Number of traveling nurse jobs 1853

4. Massachusetts

Nestled in the heart of New England, Massachusetts is renowned for its world-class healthcare institutions and innovative medical practices. The state’s emphasis on quality care and medical advancements is reflected in the compensation packages offered to travel nurses. A travel nurse can earn on average $145,210. Cities like Boston, a hub of medical excellence, present numerous high-paying opportunities for travel nurses who seek to contribute to cutting-edge healthcare while enjoying robust remuneration.

Massachusetts is having pending legislation to join NLC and the state license fee is around $300 now.

NLC status Pending legislation
Nurse license fee Around $300
Major high-paying cities Boston, Worcester, Springfield
Average hourly pay in Massachusetts $69.81
Average annual salary $145,210
Number of traveling nurse jobs 6384

5. Alaska

For the bold and adventurous, Alaska offers a one-of-a-kind travel nursing experience. The state’s vast and remote landscape creates unique healthcare challenges, resulting in a significant demand for travel nurses. As a result, travel nurses in Alaska enjoy competitive pay rates and additional benefits as they contribute their expertise to underserved communities in this breathtaking wilderness. As per the salary data, the annual average salary for travel nurses is $144,030. Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks are key cities in Alaska that are offering higher pay to nurses.

Alaska has pending legislation to be part of NLC right now and travel nurses can earn the state license that cost $375 approximately.

NLC status Pending legislation
Nurse license fee Around $375
Major high-paying cities Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks
Average hourly pay in Alaska $69.25
Average annual salary $144,030
Number of traveling nurse jobs 598

6. Washington

The Pacific Northwest’s gem, Washington, offers a blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. As home to thriving cities like Seattle, Washington boasts a robust healthcare sector that continually seeks skilled nursing professionals. Travel nurses in Washington can expect not only competitive compensation but also the opportunity to contribute to a diverse range of healthcare settings, from bustling metropolitan hospitals to smaller rural clinics. Based on salary data, travel nurses earn an average annual salary of $141,750 in Washington.

Travel nurses need to earn a state license which costs around $150 because Washington is having pending legislation for NLC.

NLC status Pending legislation
Nurse license fee Around $150
Major high-paying cities Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma
Average hourly pay in Washington $68.15
Average annual salary $141,750
Number of traveling nurse jobs 4570

7. New York

From the bustling streets of New York City to the tranquil beauty of upstate regions, New York offers travel nurses a mix of urban vibrancy and natural splendor. The state’s renowned healthcare institutions and specialized facilities contribute to higher pay rates for travel nurses. They can make as much or more than the average salary of $139,600 per year. New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Syracuse are the major cities for nurses to find good opportunities. 

Travel nurses should earn the New York state license which costs around $150 as it has only pending legislation to NLC.

NLC status Pending legislation
Nurse license fee Around $150
Major high-paying cities Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse
Average hourly pay in New York $67.12
Average annual salary $139,600
Number of traveling nurse jobs 6962

8. District of Columbia

The District of Columbia’s high demand for healthcare professionals, coupled with its urban complexity, leads to appealing compensation packages. Travel nurses who choose the District not only contribute to the well-being of the nation’s capital but also benefit from the financial rewards of their expertise. Travel nurses have the potential to earn an annual salary equal to or exceeding the average of $136,950

In the District of Columbia, they’re not a part of the Nurse License Compact (NLC). So, if you want to work in places like hospitals there, you’ll need to pay about $200 for a state license.

NLC status Non-NLC state
Nurse license fee Around $200
Major high-paying cities Washington D.C
Average hourly pay in District of Columbia $65.84
Average annual salary $136,950
Number of traveling nurse jobs 524

9. New Jersey

New Jersey may be small in size, but it offers big opportunities for travel nurses seeking substantial pay. With its proximity to bustling urban centers and a growing healthcare landscape, the Garden State provides attractive compensation to nursing professionals who step into its vibrant healthcare scene. Traveling nurses’ earning potential extends beyond the average annual salary of $134,780 often, allowing them to achieve even higher compensation. Newark, Jersey City, Trenton, Atlantic City, and Princeton are some of the important high-paying cities in New Jersey.

Travel nurses can use their compact license to work in New Jersey because the state is a part of the NLC.

NLC status NLC state
Nurse license fee N.A
Major high-paying cities Newark, Jersey City, Trenton
Average hourly pay in New Jersey $64.80
Average annual salary $134,780
Number of traveling nurse jobs 3285

10. Nevada

Known for its entertainment and bustling tourism industry, Nevada also offers travel nurses the opportunity to cash in on high pay rates. The state’s unique healthcare demands, particularly in cities like Las Vegas, contribute to competitive compensation packages that reward travel nurses for their contributions to this dynamic state. Surprisingly, Nevada offers an average salary of $134,280 to travel nurses.

Nevada isn’t in the Nurse License Compact (NLC) group. To work in hospitals there, you’ll need a state license costing about $150.

NLC status Non-NLC state
Nurse license fee Around $150
Major high-paying cities Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas
Average hourly pay in Nevada $64.56
Average annual salary $134,280
Number of traveling nurse jobs 989

Top 6 factors influencing travel nurse salary

The compensation for travel nurses varies significantly based on a range of factors. Understanding these factors can help nurses make informed decisions about their assignments and earnings.

1. Location and cost of living

One of the most significant factors influencing travel nurse pay is the location of the assignment. The cost of living varies dramatically from one state to another, impacting the overall compensation package. States with higher costs of living, such as California and New York, typically offer higher salaries to match the expenses. It’s important for travel nurses to consider not just the base pay, but also the local living costs when evaluating potential assignments.

2. Specialty and demand

The demand for certain nursing specialties can greatly affect travel nurse pay rates. Specialized units or high-demand specialties, such as critical care, emergency, or operating room nursing, often command higher compensation due to the scarcity of skilled professionals. Healthcare facilities are willing to offer more attractive packages to secure the expertise they require.

3. Healthcare facility type

The type of healthcare facility where a travel nurse is assigned also impacts their pay. Large teaching hospitals, prestigious medical centers, and specialized clinics may offer higher compensation to attract experienced and capable travel nurses. Smaller, rural facilities in underserved areas may also provide competitive pay to entice nurses to work in locations with limited access to healthcare services.

4. Negotiation and experience

Experienced travel nurses who have a strong track record and specialized certifications may have more leverage to negotiate higher pay rates. Negotiation skills, combined with a proven ability to excel in various healthcare settings, can lead to improved compensation packages.

5. Seasonal and urgent needs

The timing of travel assignments can influence pay rates. During peak healthcare seasons or urgent staffing needs, travel nurses may be offered higher pay as facilities compete for their services. These opportunities can be advantageous for nurses seeking short-term contracts with the potential for higher earnings.

6. Benefits and perks

While base pay is a critical factor, travel nurses often receive additional benefits and perks that contribute to their overall compensation. These may include housing stipends, meal allowances, travel reimbursements, completion bonuses, and comprehensive healthcare coverage. Evaluating the total package, including both monetary and non-monetary benefits, is essential when considering travel nursing opportunities.

8 Tips for landing high-paying travel nursing assignments

If you’re a nurse looking to maximize your earnings through high-paying travel assignments, here are some valuable tips to consider.

1. Choose in-demand specialties

Specialties such as critical care, emergency room, operating room, and labor and delivery tend to offer higher compensation due to their critical nature and shortage of qualified professionals.

Read also: Top 10 Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs and Specialties

2. Gain clinical experience

As you accumulate years of experience, your value to healthcare facilities increases, leading to higher pay rates. Work on honing your clinical skills and building a strong track record to position yourself as an attractive candidate for premium assignments.

3. Pursue advanced certifications

Certifications demonstrate your expertise and commitment to providing top-notch patient care. Many facilities are willing to pay a premium for nurses with specialized skills and certifications, making this a worthwhile investment in your career.

Read also: Travel Nurse Requirements and How to Become One?

4. Research high-paying locations

Certain regions or cities experience higher costs of living or have shortages of healthcare staff, leading to more competitive compensation packages. Research and target locations where demand is high and pay rates reflect the local economic conditions.

5. Consider per diem assignments

While these assignments may not provide the same benefits as traditional contracts, they allow you to work on your terms and potentially earn more on a daily basis. Per diem assignments can be particularly lucrative in crisis situations or during peak healthcare demand.

6. Stay informed about market trends

Stay up-to-date with salary benchmarks, demand for specific specialties, and emerging healthcare needs. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about which assignments to pursue and how to negotiate effectively.

7. Negotiate contract terms

This includes not only pay rates but also benefits, housing stipends, travel reimbursements, and shift differentials. Approach negotiations professionally and be prepared to showcase your skills, experience, and the value you bring to the facility.

8. Work with reputable agencies

Partnering with a reputable travel nursing agency can greatly enhance your chances of landing high-paying assignments. Established agencies like MedCadre have strong relationships with healthcare facilities and can connect you with opportunities that match your preferences and qualifications. They also offer guidance on contract negotiations and ensure your rights as a traveler are protected.


The demand for travel nurses is projected to continue growing, and with it, the opportunities for competitive compensation in certain states. By carefully assessing compensation, quality of life, and personal preferences, travel nurses can make informed decisions that lead to both financial success and professional satisfaction.

Whether you’re looking for a sunny beach, a snowy mountain, or anything in between, you can find the perfect destination and a generous salary to match. Pack your bags, grab your stethoscope, and get ready for the great nursing escape!

Looking for high-paying travel nurse jobs in the USA with reputed healthcare facilities? Check out our current openings and apply right away!

Write A Comment