By April 21, 2010 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I negotiate to maximize my travel nurse contract?

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travel nurse negotiating her contractThis week I wanted to take a look at how to get the most out of your travel contract.

Now by “getting the most”, that does not always mean pay rate, but since that seems to be foremost on the minds of travelers, let’s look at that aspect first.

When looking at your hourly rate, you need to figure out what other things your travel company is offering, especially if you are deciding between two travel companies. Like the example we looked at last week, if one company is offering two dollars more an hour, is it really a better deal if their housing stipend is $300/month less?

If you are trying to maximize your hourly rate, and that is your only concern, many companies will allow you to give up benefits like housing, health insurance, or travel reimbursement and make more of an hourly rate. While you should always consider giving up any services you do not need, it never really makes much sense to earn a few dollars more an hour and be without health insurance. However, if you can get a better rate than your travel company on housing or insurance, go for it.

Also, after you have a few assignments with one company, you can start asking for completion bonuses, an upgrade in housing, or perks such as having a TV provided in your apartment. While the economy is still rebounding, these items are not as common as they once were, but once you have shown a company you are willing to stay loyal to them, they should be willing to go that extra step to keep you as a traveler.

If there are special concerns or needs, you should be able to ask your travel company to accommodate you. If you need the extra space of a two bedroom apartment, ask your company to see if one is available and how much extra it would be. Your company might be willing to share that cost or help you get a better deal on that unit. I once specified that I wanted a second floor apartment and all the complex had on the second floor were two bedroom units. My travel company was able to get me a second floor, two-bedroom unit, for the same rate as a one bedroom.

Your company only makes a certain amount off of your services, so they do only have so much with which they can work. However, everything should be negotiable and if you need to make a few dollars more an hour or need a little bit more for travel reimbursement, let your recruiter know. Also, if you are considering switching travel companies, always let your old company know what you are thinking. Often, the company with which you have traveled will try to match or beat any offers from rival companies.

Good communication is often the key to many solutions in life and it is certainly the key to getting everything you can out of a travel contract.

Find yourself a career that fits

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

1 Comment on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I negotiate to maximize my travel nurse contract?"

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  1. Sandy says:

    Hello fellow Mt.Carmel Alum !
    I haven’t completed a travel assignment since 1993. I am now negotiating a contract and needed a little coaching. My recruiter has come back with an offer $7.00 less per hour than originally offered and has dropped the housing subsidy by 250.00/month. I haven’t signed anything yet. She just keeps putting the emphasis on the tax free dollars and the Net of the bring home. I am not too pleased with the rollback in dollars. The hourly rate doesn’t really compensate at all for the 25 yrs. of experience. Any negotiaing strategies you can offer with all of your experience? Thanks, Sandy

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