Nurses have been highly praised as frontline heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic as they continue caring for and treating patients. More than ever before, nurses have faced increased patient volume, demand for the role, and intensified situations. Facilities are unable to function without the skills and expertise of nurses in the most stable of times, let alone amidst a global pandemic, and pay rates and benefits offered to those nurses willing to jump on the scene reflect this.
The highest paying travel nursing specialties tend to offer significantly higher pay rates and benefits than their non-traveling counterparts. With that in mind, your compensation as a traveling nurse — no matter what specialty — will be based heavily on factors like location and demand. Given the right combination of factors though, and sometimes even despite them, there are certain specialties that tend to top the charts in terms of compensation. We’ll take a look at these specialties, and before you pack up your new medical bag and leave to travel, the important aspects that impact them.
Consider: The Location You’re Traveling to
While the travel nursing specialties noted below are in demand and amongst the most highly paid, your destination will have a major impact on your pay. Locations that come with a higher cost of living, for example, will likely also come with a higher rate of pay — as will locations with higher rates of accident and illness, or locations associated with disaster relief.
Consider: How Much Demand There Is for Your Specialty
Where the needs are greater, so are the pay rates and incentives. Assignments with more demand will generally feature reduced flexibility, immediate start dates and longer durations in comparison to typical assignments. If you have a couple of months’ worth of quality scrubs that you can wear anywhere you want to travel, and no commitments to uphold in the foreseeable future, consider these high-demand positions for equally high pay rates!
The Highest Paying Travel Nursing Specialties
- Labor and Delivery Nurse
Labor and delivery nurses generally care for relatively happy and healthy patients and families. That being said, they hold unique training, specialized skills, and insightful experience that qualify them to handle any number of serious emergencies that may arise. Thanks to their unique and specialized skills, labor and delivery nurses are often found in postpartum and newborn nursery units of hospitals as well, resulting in increased opportunity and demand for them and, in turn, increased pay rates.
- Operating Room Nurse
Depending on the assignment, an operating room nurse will either function as a circulating nurse or as a scrub nurse during procedures. Generally speaking, though, OR nurses who choose to travel will normally assume the role of a circulating nurse in their temporary placement. Either way, operating room nurses are always highly skilled, highly desirable, and highly compensated.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse
Neonatal intensive care unit nurses provide essential care for critically ill neonates and newborns. The skills, knowledge and experience required to succeed in this role mean that there are positions readily available to the specialists who possess them and premium pay to compensate them.
- Post-Anesthesia Care Unit Nurse
Post-anesthesia care unit nurses treat and care for patients following surgical procedures. These nurses must be well-versed in a variety of surgical procedures, post-operative care methods and anesthesia-focused knowledge. The ability to work in outpatient facilities and hospitals alike, as well as the level of specialization, has created a very sought-after and well-paid travel nursing niche that’s well worth embracing if you’re qualified.
- Intensive Care Unit Nurse
ICU nurses are a high-demand specialty for obvious reasons, as well as for the recent boom of COVID-19 patients requiring the use of a ventilator to treat respiratory distress. ICU nurses are highly trained in caring for critical condition patients of any sort, though, and because of this can generally work in almost any unit of a hospital. Considering the fact that most ICU nurses hold advanced training and certifications, they tend to see increased pay rates along with this demand.
- Emergency Room Nurse
ER nurses possess the experience and ability to treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses, in a fast-paced and intense environment. Since the strike of COVID-19, ER nurses have been in short supply and high demand across the globe. Due to the fast-paced nature and overall intensity of this role, an ongoing shortage of ER nurses is expected to continue — and compensation reflects this.
- Pediatrics Nurse
A pediatrics nurse is specially trained to care for patients who are anywhere in their lifecycle from birth to adolescence. Pediatric nurses possess unrivaled knowledge when it comes to child growth and development, as well as diseases and conditions in children as they’re often presented (and treated) differently as compared to adults. Pediatric nurses are well-equipped to work in a variety of settings and facilities, and are a highly valuable resource, as expressed by their highly valuable compensation.
- Telemetry Nurse
Telemetry nurses focus their efforts on providing constant monitoring for patients who are experiencing advanced cardiac, respiratory, or renal complications. Telemetry nurses will monitor changes in a patient’s condition, record and analyze data, assist in assessment, and are trained to act with unrivaled quickness and communication. Due to the growing need for progressive care and combined with a shortage of bed space in ICU units, we’ve seen an increase in the demand and pay for telemetry nurses.
- Medical-Surgical Nurse
Medical-surgical nursing is concerned with the care and treatment of adult patients for a variety of medical conditions and in a broad range of settings. Medical-surgical nurses are one of the most diverse nursing specialties and, in turn, one of the most common travel nursing specialties, too. Despite how common it is in terms of travel nursing specialties, medical-surgical nursing is still very much in demand and very well compensated.
More Than Just the Money
Most travel nurses see pay rates and benefits that exceed what permanently stationed nurses with the same qualifications and certifications receive — so make sure you’re pursuing a path that actually appeals to you, as you’ll be getting paid well regardless! Along with that, it’s a big world that we live in, and it’s important to make sure you’re headed somewhere that you’re drawn to, that you feel safe in and where you know you can perform well. The nursing stethoscope that hangs comfortably around your neck at all times can read every heartbeat — but YOU will have to listen to your heart and what it beats for.