Travel Nurse

10 Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs And Specialties

Travel nursing is an exciting and rewarding career choice for nurses who seek adventure, diversity, and high earning potential. It offers the unique opportunity to explore different healthcare settings, meet new people, and experience various cultures while making a significant impact on patient care. In this article, we will delve into the top 10 highest-paying travel nursing jobs and specialties, providing insights into their job descriptions, salary ranges, demand, and job outlook.

Overview of travel nursing jobs

Before we dive into the highest-paying specialties, let’s understand what travel nursing jobs is all about. Travel nurses are registered nurses (RNs) or nurse practitioners (NPs) who work on short-term assignments in various healthcare facilities across different locations. These assignments can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the facility’s needs.

Travel nursing offers a plethora of benefits, including competitive compensation packages, housing allowances, travel reimbursement, and flexible work schedules. It allows nurses to gain valuable experience, expand their skill set, and build a strong professional network.

In this article, we will focus on the10 highest paying travel nursing jobs and specialties, providing detailed insights into each field. These specialties command competitive salaries, making them desirable options for travel nurses looking to maximize their earning potential while embarking on new adventures.

10 Highest paying travel nursing jobs and specialties 

1. Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) nurse

CVICU nurses play a vital role in caring for patients with complex cardiovascular conditions. Their responsibilities include monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and providing post-surgical care. Due to the specialized nature of this field and the high demand for qualified CVICU nurses, they can enjoy attractive compensation packages, making CVICU one of the highest paying travel nursing specialties.

Salary range: $60 – $70 per hour

Demand and job outlook: High demand, especially in large metropolitan areas and academic medical centers.

2. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse

NICU nurses specialize in providing critical care to newborns who are either critically ill or premature. Their expertise includes managing ventilators, closely monitoring vital signs, and providing essential assistance with feeding. The NICU specialty is highly valued in the healthcare community, leading to a steady demand for NICU travel nurses and competitive salary offerings.

Salary range: $55 – $65 per hour

Demand and job outlook: Steady demand, with opportunities in both urban and rural settings.

3. Operating Room (OR) nurse

OR nurses are crucial members of the surgical team, supporting surgeons during procedures, maintaining a sterile operating room environment, and providing post-operative care. The need for skilled OR nurses in various healthcare settings contributes to their high earning potential, particularly in urban areas and specialty hospitals.

Salary range: $50 – $60 per hour

Demand and job outlook: Strong demand, especially in urban areas and specialty hospitals.

4. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse

ICU nurses are at the forefront of providing specialized care to patients with life-threatening conditions, such as severe injuries or critical illnesses. Their role requires constant monitoring, medication administration, and close collaboration with healthcare teams. Due to their indispensable contributions to patient care, ICU nurses are highly sought after, resulting in competitive salaries.

Salary range: $50 – $60 per hour

Demand and job outlook: High demand, particularly in large medical centers and trauma centers.

5. Emergency Room (ER) nurse

ER nurses excel in handling urgent medical situations, ranging from accidents to sudden illnesses. They must think quickly, prioritize patients, and deliver efficient care. The demand for ER travel nurses remains steady, presenting lucrative opportunities in both urban and rural settings.

Salary range: $50 – $60 per hour

Demand and job outlook: Steady demand, with opportunities in both urban and rural settings.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Nurses Are The Backbone Of Healthcare?

6. Psychiatric nurse practitioner

Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in mental health settings, providing assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for patients with psychiatric conditions. Their advanced skills and specialization contribute to their higher earning potential.

Salary range: $45 – $55 per hour

Demand and job outlook: Growing demand, particularly in community mental health centers and private practices.

7. Oncology nurse

Oncology nurses care for patients with cancer, providing support, administering treatments, and educating patients about their conditions. The complexity of oncology care and the need for specialized nurses results in competitive pay for travel nurses in this field.

Salary range: $45 – $55 per hour

Demand and job outlook: Stable demand, with opportunities in cancer centers and major healthcare facilities.

8. Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) nurse

PICU nurses specialize in caring for critically ill children, including infants and adolescents. Their expertise in handling complex pediatric cases contributes to their high earning potential.

Salary range: $45 – $55 per hour

Demand and job outlook: High demand, especially in pediatric hospitals and children’s medical centers.

9. Orthopedic nurse

Orthopedic nurses care for patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including fractures and joint replacements. Their specialized knowledge and expertise in orthopedic care make them highly sought after in travel nursing.

Salary range: $45 – $55

Demand and job outlook: Steady demand, particularly in orthopedic specialty hospitals and trauma centers.

10. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs are advanced practice nurses specializing in anesthesia care. They administer anesthesia during surgical procedures and are in high demand due to their crucial role in patient safety.

Salary range: $40 – $50

Demand and job outlook: Strong demand, especially in rural and underserved areas.

Related: Most Common Registered Nurse Interview Questions, Answers, and Tips

Factors influencing travel nursing salaries

Location and cost of living

One of the most significant factors influencing travel nursing salaries is the location of the assignment. Salaries can vary widely based on the cost of living in different regions and cities. High-cost-of-living areas, such as large cities or popular tourist destinations, often offer higher pay rates to attract nurses to work there. On the other hand, rural or less desirable locations may offer lower salaries, but they might compensate with other benefits like housing stipends or bonuses.

Experience and credentials

The level of experience and credentials a travel nurse possesses can greatly impact their earning potential. Nurses with more years of experience or advanced certifications, such as specialty certifications or advanced degrees, are often in higher demand and can command higher pay rates. Travel nursing agencies and facilities recognize the value of experienced nurses who can adapt quickly to new environments and handle complex patient cases.

Facility type and size

The type and size of the healthcare facility where the travel nurse works can also influence their compensation. Large hospitals or medical centers, especially those with high patient volumes or specialized care units, may offer higher pay rates to attract skilled travel nurses who can fill critical staffing gaps. Similarly, certain facilities, such as trauma centers or critical care units, may offer higher salaries due to the level of expertise required in these settings.

Shifts and overtime opportunities

Travel nurses often have the flexibility to choose their shifts, and certain shifts can lead to increased earnings. Night shifts, weekends, and holidays usually come with higher pay differentials, known as shift differentials. Additionally, some assignments may offer opportunities for overtime, providing nurses with the chance to boost their earnings further.

Demand and job market conditions

The demand for travel nurses in specific specialties and locations can affect salary offers. Travel nurses in high-demand specialties, such as critical care, labor and delivery, and emergency room nursing, may receive higher compensation due to the urgent need for their skills. Similarly, during times of nursing shortages or surges in patient volumes, travel nurses may have more negotiating power to secure competitive pay rates.

Tips for maximizing earnings as a travel nurse 

Choose high-paying locations

Consider accepting assignments in regions with higher cost-of-living indices or areas facing nursing shortages. These locations often offer more competitive salaries and additional benefits to attract travel nurses. 

Also read: Highest Paying States For Travel Nurses In The USA

Specialize and obtain certifications

Investing in specialized training and certifications can make you more valuable to healthcare facilities, leading to higher pay rates. Specialized nurses, such as those with certifications in critical care, oncology, or neonatal care, are in high demand and can earn premium wages.

Negotiate with travel nursing agencies

Don’t hesitate to negotiate your contract terms with travel nursing agencies. Experienced nurses or those with unique skills can often negotiate for higher pay rates, bonuses, or additional benefits.

Be open to different shifts

Being flexible with your schedule and willing to work nights, weekends, or holidays can lead to higher earnings due to shift differentials and overtime opportunities.

Seek assignments with bonus incentives

Some travel nursing assignments offer sign-on bonuses or completion bonuses, which can significantly boost your overall earnings.

Monitor market trends

Stay informed about the current demand for travel nurses and the job market conditions in your desired specialties and locations. Being aware of market trends can help you make informed decisions about your assignments and salary expectations.

Related: How to Become a Travel Nurse?


Travel nursing offers lucrative opportunities for adventurous nurses seeking both professional growth and exciting experiences. The top 10 highest paying travel nursing specialties mentioned above present a gateway to higher salaries and valuable experience.

These roles not only offer competitive salaries but also present rewarding experiences as nurses have the opportunity to work in diverse healthcare settings while making a significant impact on patients’ lives. As healthcare needs continue to evolve, travel nurses in these specialties can expect to find fulfilling and financially rewarding career opportunities. 

As you embark on your travel nursing journey, remember to research thoroughly, negotiate wisely, and embrace the adventure of a rewarding career in healthcare.

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