I am to embark upon my first travel assignment in Aug. The salary seems quite low to me, and I was wondering if it is the norm. The actual salary is $22.30 per hour with tax free per diem of $35/day.
They do pay for housing, but since I have a mortgage I’m not saving any money there. Between the salary, loss of PTO, and the cost of benefits this is a huge financial loss for me. Is this the norm, or should I have expected more?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
I can’t really give a lot of advice without knowing the specific situation, but I’ll assume a few things and see if this answers your questions.
Salary differs GREATLY depending on the area of the country and the need in the immediate area. Most times I have checked, Texas is a notoriously low paying state while Northern California can boast rates up into the $40/hr range. It also depends on your specialty. Many of the OB or NICU positions pay well, followed closely by critical care. So you see, there actually is no “norm” when it comes to salary.
An additional thing you mentioned is the tax free per diem. So while you mentioned $22.30, is that the final rate once they factor in the per diem, or the base rate?You will have to ask your recruiter to be sure.
The rate of $22.30 after you have factored in the per diem does sound a bit low, but then again, if you told me it was for a tele position in Texas, I would have less of a hard time accepting it as a final rate.
I have also traveled mostly while carrying a mortgage. On some assignments I will make money, some I break even, and some (Hawaii comes to mind), I will lose money. You have to balance the ability to travel with the ability to meet your financial obligations. If you are just breaking even, but get to spend the winter in San Diego (versus Columbus, Ohio), then it might still be worth it.
Check with your recruiter and see if they can give you any more insight as to what you will be looking at for a final hourly rate. On your next assignment, if you are open to locations, you can even tell your recruiter to find you assignments that do not pay less than “x” amount per hour or come with a completion bonus.
Hope this helps.