Moved to pre-nursing student forum to elicit further response. Many experienced nurses frequent this forum, not just pre-nursing students.
Minimum entry to practice as a registered nurse in the US is graduation from an accredited/board of nursing (BoN) approved school of nursing. One may graduate from a diploma (usually a hospital based 3-year nursing program), associate's degree (generally a community college level program of 2-3 years including pre-requisite courses), or a bachelor's degree in nursing (4 year degree) and passing of the national licensing exam NCLEX-RN.
Most hospitals seek to hire new graduate nurses with at least a BSN, especially if they have or are seeking "Magnet" status.
Glassdoor.com and salary.com can give you an idea of the base salaries for your area of the country as it varies widely whether you are in a major metropolitan area such as San Francisco, LA, NYC, Philadelphia or a more rural area such as Nebraska or the midwest.
Travel nurses require a minimum of experience in a particular specialty such as med-surg, cardiac, critical care, ER/trauma usually 2-5 years as a travel nurse is expected to start working a facility with minimum orientation. New graduate nurses generally cannot successfully work as a travel nurse.