Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
Hi, David! I grew up as a military kid so I love traveling and Travel Nursing is one of my goals. My biggest fear is that traveling will not allow me to pay my mortgage at home and regular bills. One person I talked to said they only make $22/hour base pay as a Travel Nurse. So, I want to know: Will I make enough money Travel Nursing to pay my mortgage back home? Could you please give me some examples of how pay is broken down so I can see if this is something I’ll be able to do or if I need to just go on for my Masters degree and skip traveling?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
Honestly, you will have to figure out your priorities and what you want to accomplish from a career in Travel Nursing.
Going for your Masters, while still possible in Travel Nursing, may not be best suited for a life on the road. Tuition reimbursement is certainly going to be higher if you are working full time at a facility that offers this benefit. Additionally, for someone with a Masters, my perception is that of someone who is seeking a management or administrative position in nursing. While there are some opportunities in Travel Nursing for these “higher up” positions, Travel Nursing is primarily about being a grunt, a bedside nurse, someone who is interested in seeing new locations and not worried about “climbing the nursing ladder.” So I guess my first question would be, “Is bedside nursing enough for you?”
In regard to paying your mortgage, that would depend on your financial situation. I have traveled many times while carrying a $1,000 mortgage on a home or condo and had no trouble meeting my monthly obligations. You have to understand that the person who was quoting a base rate in the low $20s was also likely enrolled in a tax advantage program where a portion of their pay was not taxed. A better question for any Traveler you meet would be, “What is your take home pay?”
Now any take home is going to vary based on your deductions, whether or not you have a “tax home,” the company for which you work, and the assignments you choose to take. You are not going to earn “bank” taking assignments in all the popular destinations — though you will get to experience these locales, which is a plus. However, if you carefully select your assignments, it is very possible to make a salary that is comparable to any staff position.
If travel, as you say, is your “goal,” then I do not see why you could not come up with a budget that allows this. Again, I have traveled while facing a mortgage, car payment, and other monthly obligations. But you do need to know your finances and what it will take for you to accept a travel contract.
Start crunching the numbers and then talk with a few Travel Nurse recruiters and see what assignments they are presently staffing and what your take home might be in each situation.
But before you embark on travel, do be sure this is something that will make you happy. To me, obtaining your Masters (and the steps it will take) seem to be a polar opposite of Travel Nursing.
I hope this helps with your decision.