How Compensation Compares Between Texas Staff and Travel Nurses

How Compensation Compares Between Texas Staff and Travel Nurses

Increasing demand has made nursing a high-paying profession over the past decade, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

Nationally, registered nurses today earn more than $45 per hour on average, about $14 more than the average wage across all occupations in the United States. Travel nurses with the same skills and credentials can earn another $16 more per hour, on average, compared to staff nurses. A typical contract for a travel nurse is approximately 13 weeks, but can be much shorter or longer.

In some states, the pay discrepancy between travel and staff nurses is even more dramatic.

Vivian Health leveraged its own data, along with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to analyze salary gaps between staff and travel nurses in Texas as part of a broader national analysis. Data from both sources was last updated in May 2023. BLS data on registered nurses is combined with staff nursing positions in this analysis, although the numbers would technically also include travel nurses. However, travel nurses make up a small portion of the overall RN workforce and their salaries won’t affect overall averages much.

The pandemic exacerbated existing nursing shortages, creating high demand for registered nurses who could temporarily fill gaps. While COVID-19-related demand has decreased, travel nurses remain a vital solution to the current nursing shortage.

Vivian Health

How Texas Travel Nurse Compensation Compares

In Texas, travel nurses earn $2,289 per week, or $57.22 per hour based on a 40-hour workweek. That’s $13.80 more per hour than registered nurses overall, less than the pay gap between travel nurses and all registered nurses nationally.

Across the country, nurses who accept travel contracts in the Midwest earn more compared to their staff counterparts. Travel nurse salaries stand out here, as a lower cost of living in this region often translates into lower compensation for residents. Offering high salaries to travel nurses in parts of the Midwest that need it can help attract more registered nurses to these states, which are not among the most popular for state-to-state migration. The Midwest enjoys higher ratios of nurses per capita than other areas of the U.S., which translates to lower demand for travel nurses overall.

In contrast, the smallest wage gaps exist in the states where nurses earn the most: Hawaii and along the West Coast. These places also have relatively high costs of living, particularly in urban areas, and strong nursing unions that help nurses demand better wages and benefits.

West Coast states are home to top medical and nursing schools and major medical employers, including Kaiser Permanente (California), University of Washington Medical Centers, University of California Hospitals, and other large healthcare facilities . California nurses also benefit from legally mandated minimum staffing levels, which help prevent overwork and burnout.

Regardless of where they operate, travel nurses typically have the potential to earn much more than their staff counterparts. These contracts have some disadvantages, including a lack of stability, the challenge of learning a new workplace every few months, and fewer opportunities to build lasting relationships with coworkers and patients. But they also offer the opportunity to see new places, learn skills associated with various roles, meet many people and generate wealth.

Staffing on temporary contracts, such as those for travel nurses, created huge cost burdens for hospitals between 2020 and 2022. For starters, many hospitals are in precarious financial situations and may need to rework their staffing strategies to make them more sustainable. Still, amid a nursing shortage and an aging population increasingly dependent on care, travel nurses will likely remain a critical element of the American healthcare industry.

This story features data reporting and writing by Paxtyn Merten and is part of a series using data automation in 51 states.

This story originally appeared on Vivian Health and was produced and distributed in association with Stacker Studio.

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