Need Help. Is this a reasonable travel pay package?


I'm a young nurse with two years of experience on a med/surg floor. I've recently decided to try travel nursing and have started working with an agency. I've heard all the time to make sure you aren't duped but I honestly don't know what a reasonable package looks like?

Guaranteed Hours: 36.00

Regular Hours: 36.00

Hourly Wage (taxed): $15.75

Overtime Hours: 0.00

Overtime Wage (taxed): $50

Housing Provided

Weekly Per Diem: $317

Weekly Gross Pay: $884

Is this reasonable for a travel position in Santa Cruz?

Any feedback would be great?

Specializes in Reproductive & Public Health. Has 10 years experience.

15 dollars an hour? Is that for real? I don't know much about travel nursing so maybe that's standard. i know you get stipends (untaxed i think?) for living expenses, so that may explain the low hourly rate? 800 a week sounds bananas.


8 Posts

The first problem you have here is that you are taking the housing. You should take the tax free stipend which should get you an extra $1000 a week and find your own accommodations. The pay per hour is usually 15-20$ an hour and it is what you will be taxed on. The stipends are tax free making it very lucrative.


1 Article; 5,767 Posts

If you don't want to be "duped", you need to shop around. Work with several agencies. Otherwise there is no way to know what is market rate for your specialty and experience in a given city. That said, don't worry about money for your first assignment. Instead, look for an assignment with the help of a good recruiter that is traveler friendly and well within your clinical skillset and patient load experience. Money will get better almost automatically when you have a proven successful travel assignment completed with good references. Still have to shop around though.

To compare these complex compensation offers, use PanTravelers calculator (sign up for a free membership). It boils everything down to a couple of easily understandable numbers or "real" hourly and take home pay.


72 Posts

Hello NurseK94,

As NedRN has stated it's in your best interest to work with multiple travel agencies to see which one has the "best" offer for you. Unless this is a kaiser facility there should be a few other agencies that hold this CA contract. The one thing that sticks out to me is the weekly gross is much lower than it should be based on the numbers you provided. In California any hours worked past 8 is considered overtime so if your shifts are 3 12s you should be getting 12 hours of overtime. Last time i checked it was state law that employers were required to pay employees overtime for any hours worked past 8 whether it's authorized by the facility or not we as agencies are required to give you 1.5x for hours 9-12. Also as others have mentioned it is in your best interest to take the housing stipend rather than facility housing because it allows you to get more tax free money and have a higher net. Also if you take the housing stipend and you are able to find cheap housing you are able to pocket the surplus. On the other hand when the agency is providing you housing if they find you something cheap they get to "pocket" the surplus.


1 Article; 5,767 Posts

Actually, CA overtime law has some twists. Any government hospital is excluded. Beside VA, military, and county hospitals, it also includes California's healthcare district hospitals. I believe there are 17 and I've worked for at least 3 of those. An agreement voted on by a majority of a work unit at any California hospital to not pay overtime after 8 or 10 is filed with California, and travelers on that unit may also be paid that way legally. That is not uncommon at California unionized hospitals (with the major exception of Kaiser, most of whose employees work 8 hour shifts). Other than non California government hospitals, there is no exclusion for double time after 12.

Really, it is just a technicality as far as travelers go. An agency can certainly design contracts for their travelers that have the identical pay for base contracted hours (36/40) with or without overtime. If overtime, base pay rate is lower to compensate. Gross pay for the traveler should be the same unless they miss hours. A common issue though is a fair overtime rate for hours worked over 36/40 when the base rate is really low.

So the above may only apply to non California domiciled agencies. I've noticed most California agencies will only do overtime after 8 contracts. I've never researched this, but I suspect California employers are either held to a different standard or are extremely wary of crossing their labor board. Even major California based agencies like American Mobile that should have known better have had to pay large settlements for not paying OT per the law.