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By January 27, 2016 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Should I take a lower hourly pay rate to start in a local assignment?

Ask a Travel Nurse: Should I take a lower hourly pay rate to start in a local assignment?

Ask a Travel Nurse: Should I take a lower hourly pay rate to start in a local assignment?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi David, I’m a new Traveler and I am hoping to take my first assignment locally. I was offered an assignment, but I’m wondering if the wage is low for this area, because it’s less than I get at my current job. Should I take a lower hourly pay rate to start in a local assignment before accepting relocation assignments?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Honestly, there are just too many variables to know the true compensation package you are receiving and whether or not it is a fair wage for the area.

I have also stopped answering these sorts of questions due to the fact that I could never keep up with the prevailing rates for all the areas of the country in all the different specialties. Additionally, there is no possible way that I would be able to tell if a contract was right for you.

If you are trying to decide if a contract is fair, based solely on wage, then you would have to be working with several companies and get a quote from each of them. But even then, it’s often hard to compare apples to apples when companies have different pay rates, different housing stipends or housing accommodations, and different healthcare benefit plans and the cost of those plans. You really need to take a look at the entire contract rather than just one aspect of it.

As I mentioned before, there is really no way for me to tell if a contract is right for you. While it may end up being less money, even if the rate is the same everywhere else, is it worth it to get the experience as a Travel Nurse locally before accepting an assignment away from home? This is just one of many questions that needs to be asked, and answered by no one other than yourself.

I always encourage Travelers to weigh the benefits of the assignment, check with several agencies to get the going rate for the area, and then pull the trigger and don’t look back. I also tell nurses not to dwell on pay rates and constantly wonder if they are the Traveler on the floor who is making the most. You’ll drive yourself crazy playing that game and I guarantee, there will ALWAYS seem to be someone who is making a better rate, has nicer housing, or pays less for their insurance (despite the fact that almost all hospitals sign the same contract, with the same compensation paid out, to every different company out there).

Bottom line, without knowing more of the variables, if it gets your foot in the door, I believe accepting it will move you forward.

I hope this helps.


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: Should I take a lower hourly pay rate to start in a local assignment?"

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  1. I personally took the job that’s near the place where I live than taking the one that’s provides higher pay but is located remotely from my location. Travelling can really take a toll on you if you take a routine shift, even more so if it suddenly changes. Anyway, thanks for the great read!

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