The many benefits of travel nursing may have you smiling. Travel nurses enjoy a wide range of benefits from pay to job satisfaction.
There are travel nurse benefits that vary depending on the agency. Some offer a generous housing allowance and others offer the benefit of a bonus. The best way to find out if your agency offers theseperks is to ask the nurse recruiter when you are checking them out. And be sure to get everything in writing. If it isn’t in writing they may not honor it.
Travel - One of the better advantagesis the ability to pick assignments all over the country. After all it is called Travel Nursing. If you were an avid backpacker and hiker you might actually take an assignment in a remote community famous for its backpacking trails. Or if you just can’t get enough of theme parks you might accept an assignment in Orlando so that you can visit Disney World every time you have some time off.
Flexible – you can tailor the contracts to range from 4 weeks to 52 weeks. The average contract is 13 weeks. Work 13 weeks, take a month off…Or not. Of course, this travel nurse benefit is also a traveling nurse’s top personality trait.
Bonuses – will vary depending on the contract; one site I visited is advertising that they pay up to $8000 for assignment completion. Bonuses may be offered for sign up or for completion. The average right now seems to be around $500 to $1500 with some sites advertising much larger amounts as an incentive.
Pay – Specialty Nurses can ask for and receive top pay rates including double time for overtime. Average rates of pay for a traveling nurse are $19 - $35 per hour. Overtime rates can be time and a half to double time.
Housing Allowance – this varies depending on location but averages about $800 or more per month. Or you can let them rent the apartment for you. This is usually private housing but some agencies do have you share a two bedroom apartment with another traveler. If you don’t want a roommate be sure that the contract specifies that you will not be sharing an apartment or house.
One option is to tailor your compensation package so that your housing allowance is larger. Some agencies will allow you to take a bigger housing allowance to reduce your taxable income. Be cautious about getting too large of an allowance though. The IRS can decide that if your allowance is excessive in relation to average rents in the area that you owe income tax on the portion that exceeds average rent prices.
Travel Expenses – many (but not all) agencies reimburse you for part or all of your travel expenses to move from one assignment to another.
Medical Benefits –travel nurse agencies are now offering medical coverage for the traveler and with the payment of additional premiums they can cover your dependents. If medical and dental coverage is very important to you check this one out very carefully. Often the benefit offered is minimal compared to what you might get working as a permanent employee. While travel nurse benefits are improving this is one area where it pays to do your homework.
The recent advent of the Affordable Care Act may make receiving healthcare benefits from your employer less critical. If your employer doesn’t offer healthcare you can easily acquire it through one of the exchanges. Just be sure to sign up with a healthcare company that can cover you no matter where you are. This is one travel nurse benefit that might improve with the new law taking effect.
Dental Benefits – Some companies offer a dental plan. Some don’t. If this is something you have to have be sure it is offered by the travel agency you sign up with. This is one area along with vision coverage where most companies do not offer a huge benefit.
License Reimbursement – Many agencies are now offering to pay part or all of the cost of getting your license in a state where you want to work.
Continuing Education – One company I know of offers up to $100 per year reimbursement. Others offer free CE’s online or offline through a provider of continuing education.
Referral Bonus – Ok so, you’re probably not a professional recruiter. But, many agencies will pay you for referring people you know to work for them. Sometimes up to $1000 per referral. Help your friends get a nice assignment and get a reward that you can put in the bank.
Retirement Plans – Believe it or not, many agencies have started to offer 401K plans. Some of them even include matching funds. If you work for an agency that doesn’t offer this benefit then consider opening your won IRA or Roth IRA. Sooner or later retirement is going to be an option.
Assignment Management – I personally think one of the better travel nurse benefits is to have a staff and management team who look for contracts based on the criteria you specify. Almost all agencies have specially trained staff who act as a “personal manager” of your work experience.
Your assignment manager can assist with everythingfrom helping you receive your check on time to assisting you with getting to your next assignment. Frankly, there is a lot to be said for having your own personal manager. This one aspect alone can make the difference between a good traveling experience and a bad one.