Whether you’re a seasoned registered nurse (RN) looking for an exciting new opportunity or just getting your feet wet in the world of travel nursing, there are so many amazing places to explore while being well-compensated for your nursing skills.
To help make your decision easier, we've created a list of the 11 best states for travel nursing jobs using Marketplace, whether you work in the intensive care unit (ICU), operating room (OR) or another specialty area. From picturesque waterways to charming cities, there's a brand-new experience for you in one of these hot spots across the nation with plenty of job opportunities available.
The states and locations we've designated as the most in-demand and best for traveling nurses take several factors into consideration: the highest paying states for travel nurses, the cost of living expenses, the highest demand and sheer number of travel nurse assignments available, and how easy it is to enjoy the free time you'll end up spending there.
- New York
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- Cost of living: 49% higher than the national average
- Average weekly salary: $4,060
California is consistently listed as the highest paying state to travel nurse and has hundreds to thousands of opportunities for healthcare travelers. Keep in mind that the cost of living and average travel nurse salary noted above vary greatly in cities across the state: Bakersfield is only 3.4% higher than the national cost of living average, whereas San Francisco is a whopping 144% higher. Take these differences into consideration when weighing travel nursing pay.
The Golden State truly offers an incredible experience for travel nurses. The state's diverse landscape enables travel nurses to explore a variety of captivating environments - from the sun-kissed beaches along the coastline to the majestic mountains, and the expansive deserts peppered with iconic Joshua trees. Looks like there's a new "sunshine state" to watch out for!
Beyond the geographical appeal, California's thriving healthcare industry over the past few years provides numerous opportunities for professional growth and development, as the state is home to some of the nation's top hospitals and medical centers. Additionally, with a culturally diverse population, travel nurses have the opportunity to work with a wide range of patients and sharpen their clinical skills. Alongside work, this cultural richness allows for various culinary, musical, and artistic experiences, ultimately making California and the west coast an ideal haven for travel nurses seeking both professional and personal fulfillment.
- Cost of living: 5.7% lower than the national average
- Average weekly travel nurse salary: $2,750
Other than a bigger bang for your buck with a lower-than-average cost of living, Texas assignments have some additional perks. You'll want to check the forecast before heading out, but Texas is one of the best states for nurses looking for a winter travel assignment that still boasts an affordable cost of living. Travel nurses are desperately needed down south – as the saying goes, "everything is bigger in Texas," including high demand for travel nurses.
Being a travel nurse surely comes with its fair share of excitement, and Texas is the ultimate Lone Star State for adventure-seekers in this profession. There's a unique combination of factors that make Texas one of the best places for nurses to take a travel nursing assignment. First, the state offers a diverse range of top-quality healthcare institutions giving nurses the opportunity to work in prestigious, innovative environments. Second, they're also known for their friendly, welcoming vibes. And let's not forget the fantastic blend of urban, suburban, and rural communities which allow you to explore the richness and diversity of Texan culture. So, saddle up and head to Texas for a remarkable journey in your nursing career!
Cost of living: 21.5% higher than the national average
Average weekly travel nurse salary: $3,406
Ah, New York State, a travel nurse's dream destination! What makes the Empire State such an alluring and popular state for travel nurses? Well, for starters, the diverse landscapes across the state offer an endless array of thrilling experiences. Whether you're exploring the bustling streets of New York City, soaking up the artsy vibes in Upstate New York, or taking in the picturesque views of the Finger Lakes region, you'll never be short of incredible sights to explore on your days off. New York is another state with a massive difference in prices between different cities: jobs in New York City will probably have a much higher average travel nurse salary than in Rochester, but it's also more expensive to live there.
New York State boasts top-notch healthcare facilities, which not only allow travel nurses the opportunity to sharpen their skills but also to connect with experienced professionals in renowned institutions. And let's not forget about the competitive salaries and benefits packages that come with the available jobs! This, coupled with New York's vibrant culture, history, and entertainment options, truly makes it one of the best places for travel nursing assignments.
Cost of living: 27.5% higher than the national average
Average weekly travel nurse salary: $3,505
It may come as a surprise that there is a higher cost of living in Massachusetts than, for instance, New York, but remember that the state of New York is five times larger. One work location (like Boston, with soaring rent prices) can skew the numbers much more easily in a smaller state.
Massachusetts is truly a gem when it comes to travel nursing opportunities. In this beautiful New England state, you'll find a vibrant mix of bustling cities, serene beaches, beautiful scenery, picturesque small towns, and of course, the striking beauty of its autumn foliage. Travel nurses love this region for its top-notch hospitals and prestigious healthcare institutions, but also because Massachusetts as a whole offers an exceptional quality of life.
In your downtime, you can immerse yourself in American history by visiting significant sites such as the Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, or Salem, all while enjoying the diverse and thriving food scene. Moreover, its central location on the East Coast and easily accessible transportation options make it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding states during your time off. And if all that isn't enough, Massachusetts boasts a strong sense of community and a welcoming vibe that will make you feel like you're right at home, even if you're a traveling nurse just passing through.
Cost of living: 5.4% lower than the national average
Average weekly travel nurse salary: $3,424
Many nurses have found their traveling nurse niche in places like Pennsylvania, which balances being one of the highest paying states (often due to staffing shortages) with reasonable prices within state lines. Pennsylvania is also close to other great travel nurse destinations like New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Rhode Island, so you'll be able to easily head on over to even more travel nurse jobs when you're finished in Philly (or Pittsburgh, or Allentown, or Scranton).
Pennsylvania is an absolute delight for travel nurses, offering a unique blend of professional and personal benefits. With strong demand for nurses, Pennsylvania provides ample travel nurse positions in world-class medical facilities, enabling you to grow your career by leaps and bounds and choose between day or night shift options that work for you. Apart from the professional perks, the state is brimming with striking natural beauty, encompassing peaceful countryside landscapes and lively cities that promise a well-rounded experience. Delve into rich American history as you traverse through stunning landmarks, battlefields, and heritage sites. And with its amazing food scene, diverse cultural experiences, and friendly locals, Pennsylvania leaves no stone unturned in making your travel nursing stint an unforgettable one. So go ahead, pack your bags, and embrace the wondrous adventures that await you in this remarkable state!
Cost of living: 9% lower than the national average
Average weekly travel nurse salary: $2,978
North Carolina has a little bit of everything: a range of cities with some on the coast, low cost of living with reasonable travel nurse pay, lots of nurse jobs for anyone with a compact license, and chances for career advancement.
As a travel nurse, you're constantly on the lookout for exciting and fulfilling experiences, and North Carolina has got you covered. There's no denying that this beautiful state is a treasure trove of adventure, with a perfect blend of urban sophistication and natural serenity. The Tar Heel State is widely recognized for its top-notch healthcare facilities and hospitals, giving travel nurses a fantastic opportunity to work with renowned professionals in various medical specialties. You'll feel instantly welcome in its friendly and diverse communities, providing you with a sense of belonging and support throughout your assignment.
Plus, with North Carolina's stunning landscapes, lively cities, and rich cultural heritage, you'll never run out of fun outdoor activities or breathtaking views to soak in during your days off – you could even head down to South Carolina for a quick day trip. So, don't hesitate to pack your bags and start exploring North Carolina as a travel nurse – it's the ideal destination to elevate your career while enjoying a superb work-life balance.
Cost of living: 14.4% lower than the national average
Average weekly travel nurse pay: $2,963
If you're not looking for a travel assignment specifically on the coast, you may find the perfect place to practice nursing in the Heartland, which tends to offer lower cost of living compared to the Coasts along with a demand for nurses (and are almost all a part of the nurse licensure compact). Many registered nurses choose their next assignment in affordable states like Missouri as a strategic way to end up with more money in their pocket after accounting for the low cost of rent and other essentials.
Missouri has become a hot spot for travel nurses seeking a refreshing and rewarding professional experience. A major reason for Missouri's appeal is the abundance of available travel nurse jobs in top-notch medical facilities, ensuring that travel nurses are always in demand. The state's diverse landscape not only caters to cultural wanderlust but also provides an alluring backdrop for those looking to explore nature during their off days. From vibrant urban hotspots like Kansas City and St. Louis to picturesque small towns, Missouri is a haven for travel nurses who value both professional growth and well-rounded personal experiences that will help stave off boredom and nurse burnout.
- Cost of living: 13% higher than the national average
- Average weekly salary: $3,894
There are many job opportunities for travel nurses in the Garden State. With many healthcare facilities spread across diverse locales, there is something for everyone. From bustling urban hospitals in cities like Newark and Jersey City to serene suburban healthcare centers nestled in picturesque towns, New Jersey offers an array of work settings. The compensation packages are attractive too, making it a lucrative choice for travel nurses.
New Jersey is not just about work; it is about life experiences too. Imagine unwinding on a sunny beach after a fulfilling day at work or exploring the scenic Appalachian Mountains on a day off. The state's rich cultural diversity opens doors to a plethora of culinary, musical, and artistic experiences. Whether it is savoring the famous New Jersey pizza or attending a vibrant music festival, there is always something exciting happening around the corner. In essence, New Jersey offers the perfect blend of professional growth and personal enrichment, making it a top pick for travel nurses.
- Cost of living: 12% higher than the national average
- Average weekly salary: $3,424
Oregon, the Pacific Northwest gem, comes with lots of opportunities for travel nurses. Healthcare facilities dot the landscape, from thriving urban hospitals in Portland to quaint healthcare centers nestled in the heart of its small towns. The compensation packages are great, often reaching competitive figures, and added perks such as free travel and housing make Oregon an attractive destination for travel professionals.
But Oregon is more than just a workplace; it's a haven for explorers. From the breathtaking coastline to the majestic mountains, there's always something to see. The state's rich cultural diversity also offers a cornucopia of culinary delights, music festivals, and art exhibitions. In essence, Oregon presents an ideal blend of professional growth and personal enjoyment for travel nurses.
- Cost of living: 84% higher than the national average
- Average weekly salary: $3,102
Hawaii, an island paradise, beckons travel nurses with its unique blend of professional opportunities and unparalleled natural beauty. There are healthcare facilities across most of the islands, from bustling city hospitals in Honolulu to serene health centers tucked away in the tropical landscape, offer a range of work environments.
Yet, Hawaii is more than just a workplace; it's an experience. Think about unwinding on a pristine beach after a day's work or exploring vibrant coral reefs on a day off. The state's rich cultural heritage also presents a myriad of culinary delights and vibrant festivals. In essence, Hawaii offers the perfect blend of professional development and personal exploration for travel nurses.
- Cost of living: 30% higher than the national average
- Average weekly salary: $3,102
Alaska, with its captivating wilderness and awe-inspiring landscapes, is a unique location for travel nurses. The state hosts a variety of healthcare facilities, from bustling hospitals in Anchorage to tranquil health centers nestled amidst the breathtaking scenery. Compensation packages are competitive, thanks to the need and demand for travel nurses.
Imagine winding down after a day's work by witnessing the mesmerizing spectacle of the Northern Lights or venturing into the untamed wilderness on a day off. The state's rich cultural heritage also offers an array of experiences, from tasting local delicacies to participating in traditional festivals.
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From the sandy beaches of California to the rolling hills of Missouri, it's easy to see why travel nursing is becoming increasingly popular across the United States. Not only does each state possess unique sights and sounds, but they also offer nurse practitioners considerable opportunities to learn new skills while getting paid a high average travel nurse salary. Whether it’s big city adventure in New York or small-town charm in North Carolina, there is something for every travel nurse out there from those just out of nursing school or experienced travelers. We encourage you to explore your options and find jobs in the best states for travel nursing.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath, look around, take in the scenery, and dig into local history: now’s the time for a well-deserved adventure in one of the most in-demand states for travel nurses!