The 10 Highest-Paying Travel Nurse Assignments in 2023

In this article, we’ll cover where you can find lucrative travel nursing jobs and which positions usually pay the most. Since this is just a starting point, you’ll want to work with an agency to find the best fit for you. Let’s dive in!


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    Specializes in Nurse Mentoring & Tutoring. Has 12 years experience.
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With the healthcare staffing shortage never seeming to end, you've probably heard about travel nursing. There are probably even a few travel nurses floating around your unit. After hearing about the dreamy lifestyle and huge paychecks, maybe you're thinking about trying it for yourself! While it's true nursing isn't all about the money, travel nurses usually make plenty of it. If you're interested in taking a job somewhere away from home, you've probably wondered where to find the highest-paying travel nurse assignments.

Below we'll review what travel nursing is, why it can be so lucrative as well as give you the highest paying locations and assignments.

What is Travel Nursing?

Although travel nursing is all the rage right now due to staffing shortages across the country, this isn't a new trend. Nurses have been packing their bags to care for those in need since the late 1970s when New Orleans hospitals were overwhelmed by Mardi Gras partiers who sustained injuries during their celebrations.

As times change, traveling nursing opportunities change with them. Today, you can find travel assignments for almost any specialty—and in almost any place you can imagine!

Thanks to improved technology and an abundance of agencies, you can become a travel nurse with ease. And finding the highest-paying travel nurse assignments isn't difficult, either. With plenty of competition and hospitals everywhere needing more nurses, you'll find lucrative opportunities regardless of your interests or specialty.

Why Do Travel Nurses Make So Much Money?

Staff nurses may feel slighted by the fact that travel nurses tend to make a much higher hourly rate even though they're doing the same work. So why do travel nurses make so much money?

Many factors go into the paycheck nurses who uproot their lives to care for others receive. The highest-paying travel nurse assignments are usually with employers paying a premium to address critical staffing shortages. A nurse traveling to a hospital with poor staffing will almost certainly make more than a co-worker on the same unit. Employers also need to offer high wages to convince nurses to leave home and work for them.

It's true travel nurses see a bigger number in their paychecks and enjoy tax-free reimbursements for expenses like rent and moving. But many staff nurses are surprised to learn their compensation often lines up closely. Nurses employed full-time by a hospital get healthcare coverage, PTO, and don't have to worry about the costs of moving every few months. Travel nurses still go home with the most cash since staff nurses often have much of their compensation tied up in these other benefits.

So if you're looking for a job that offers the biggest payday, travel nursing is hard to beat.

Highest Paying Travel Nurse Assignments By Location

There are travel nursing assignments available across the U.S. and even internationally. But they aren't created equally. Some locations offer higher pay than others. The weather, nearby activities, and the cost of living all play a role. They are all important factors for travel nurses who are looking for their next assignment to consider. Let's look at the locations where you can find some of the highest-paying travel nurse assignments!

1- California

They say everything is more expensive in California. That means travel nurses, too! Hospitals in California pay a premium for travel nurses due to the high costs of living, taxes, and rent. Nurses are also in high demand in California since there is a large number of hospitals and health systems in the state.

Travel nurses looking for a sunny assignment with plenty to do will enjoy their time in California. Be prepared to spend more than usual on food and activities, but the experience is well worth it! You'll also have plenty of opportunities to work in some of the world's best healthcare facilities.

Average Pay: $2,598 per week

2- North Dakota

A big jump away from the sunny shores and mountains of California, you'll find North Dakota, the state with the second highest paying travel nurse assignments. Although there is much less to do and the climate isn't as attractive, North Dakota has plenty of job opportunities for nurses because of a huge nursing shortage in the state. Despite the high pay, North Dakota's cost of living is very low. So if you want to enjoy nature and save some money fast, this could be a great opportunity!

Average Pay: $2,397 per week

3- Rhode Island

Despite being the smallest state in the U.S., travel nurses are in high demand in Rhode Island. The salaries are also some of the highest in the country. With close proximity to major cities like Boston and New York, this is an attractive option for those who enjoy a weekend road trip. Meanwhile, Rhode Island travel nurses will love the cozy New England atmosphere, seaside views, and small-town charm of the state.

Average Pay: $2,352 per week

4- New York / New Jersey

The New York/New Jersey area is another popular area for travel nurses. With a ton of people living in this small area, there are also numerous hospitals to care for them. Continued nursing shortages mean there are always openings for travelers. If you're a fan of metropolitan living, hiking in the mountains, or exploring some of the biggest cities on the east coast, this could be a great location for an assignment.

Average Pay: $2,330 per week

5- Alaska

You'll have to travel outside the continental U.S. for this one! Alaska is one of the most unique locations for travel nurses to explore without living abroad. Due to its remote nature and harsh winters, pay rates for travel nurses in Alaska are high. With stunning alpine scenery, endless outdoor activities, and a totally unique living experience, Alaska has a lot to offer for adventurous travel nurses.

Average Pay: $2,330 per week

Highest Paying Travel Nurse Assignments By Position

For nurses with lots of experience or a background in specialty care, travel opportunities become even more lucrative. The highest-paying travel nurse jobs are often related to a specialty or require certain skills that not all nurses have. So if you fall into one of these categories and are thinking about picking up a travel assignment, get your bank account ready to meet some new friends (we like to call them dollars)!

1- NICU Nurse

The combination of critical care and working with babies makes NICU nursing a unique specialty. For NICU travel nurses, this means a big paycheck comes with the responsibilities. NICU nurses need to have previous experience in the NICU for almost all travel positions. Most agencies look for at least a year of experience. NICU nurses will use a variety of skills while caring for critically ill babies as well as infants with chronic conditions or very low birth weights. This specialized care and the required experience make NICU travel nursing a high-paying opportunity.

Average Pay: $3,320 per week ($83 per hour)

2- ER Nurse

ER nurses must be ready to deal with the most critical of patients. Working in the ER is also fast-paced, and skills like triage and critical thinking are essential. Since you'll be the first nurse caring for a patient when they arrive, you'll see a wide range of illnesses and injuries. This is a great way for nurses to stay sharp and build their skill set. You should be good at working in high-pressure situations if this opportunity interests you. Since most travel agencies and hospitals require ER nurses to have previous experience, this position pays more than most.

Average Pay: $2,856 per week ($71 per hour)

3- Intensive Care Nurse (ICU/CVICU)

It should come as no surprise to see ICU nursing near the top of this list. After all, most critical care nurses make more than their co-workers, even in non-travel positions. Aside from the amount of training and experience you need to thrive in the ICU environment, intensive care is often more stressful than other acute care units. And thanks to burnout from handling the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have left the ICU in record numbers. Training new staff takes time, but hospitals need nurses in the meantime. This means jobs in the ICU are one of the highest paying travel nurse assignments—and hospitals always need to fill these roles.

Average Pay: $2,508 per week ($63 per hour)

4- OB / Labor and Delivery (L&D) Nurse

A specialty unlike any other, L&D nurses care for mothers and babies during the birthing process. This requires a unique skill set that doesn't translate to many other areas of nursing. Gaining experience in this specialty takes time, which makes skilled L&D nurses hard to find. Since people won't stop having babies anytime soon, this specialty is always in demand. While L&D nurses generally care for healthier patients, they still must be ready to handle emergencies if they arise. The combination of essential specialty experience and constant demand makes L&D one of the highest-paying travel nurse assignments.

Average Pay: $2,440 per week ($61 per hour)

5- Telemetry Nurse

The skill and training required to be a telemetry nurse make this one of the highest-paid travel nurse assignments. You'll need to be able to manage care for patients with cardiovascular disease and work with the latest medical technology. Since there are often high nurse-to-patient ratios in this role, be ready to balance your time and work under pressure. If this sounds like you, a telemetry travel nursing job could be a great fit.

Average Pay: $2,278 per week ($57 per hour)

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Nurses Teach Nurses has 12 years experience and specializes in Nurse Mentoring & Tutoring.

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Specializes in Operating room.

You seem to have forgotten Operating Room nursing. We are usually either top or close to it for compensation. 


1 Article; 5,766 Posts

For a couple years after the pandemic hit, I was regularly received email solicitations for an astounding $8,000 plus a week for CVOR. They dropped recently but are still around $5,000 a week. Interesting to consider the huge drop in elective surgery and OR nurses going on to other things, anything but CVOR! 

ArrowRN, BSN, RN

5 Articles; 1,146 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, PCU, Travel. Has 9 years experience.

Anyone told landlords we no longer make the average $4500/week? not to mention the barrage of new nurses jumping into traveling and not realizing what they getting into.