Registered Nurses provide patient care and educate patients and their families about various health conditions. According to 2019 BLS data, California had the most RN jobs and the highest paying salaries, which was also true for travel RN’s.
Last year, California Travel RN’s earned an average gross weekly salary of $2,052 per week working an average of 37 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, housing, and relocation which add up to an average value of $1,805 per week.
What are the most common benefits for a Travel RN in California?
While there are many benefits to working as a travel nurse, the most common benefits included as compensation are housing stipends, meal stipends, and health insurance. Be sure to assess how your benefits are taxed because this can affect your net income. For example, if you qualify as having a permanent tax home, many of these stipends are tax-free, which can mean thousands of dollars in savings.
Housing stipends can be used to cover costs associated with temporary housing like rent, utilities, and relocation expenses. In some cases employers will offer a choice between a stipend or employee housing. If you are confident your housing costs will be lower than the stipend amount, then you may be able to find your own place and save the difference.
On the other hand, housing provided by your employer can make the process of relocating easier. Ask your recruiter how a stipend vs employee housing option is taxed. See our housing tips for travel nursing.
Avg value: $831
It’s common for employers to cover living expenses, especially food costs since it is one of the largest expenses when relocating. Employers describe this benefit differently sometimes providing a “per diem” which is a maximum daily allowance for meals and incidental expenses. Others may offer a “stipend”, which is a lump sum paid periodically. It’s important to keep detailed records of your expenses and to verify whether you qualify for tax-free stipends.
Avg value: $965
Many travel nurse employers offer health insurance at a reasonable rate, however coverage may only apply throughout the duration of your assignment. You’ll want to understand the exact start/end dates of your coverage before signing an agreement to avoid gaps in coverage.
As an alternative, many travel nurses choose private coverage or elect COBRA in between jobs. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a higher rate of pay by choosing private insurance and opting out of the employer’s insurance option.
What California cities pay the highest salaries?
Travel nursing salaries are all about supply and demand. This is why many smaller and often rural areas may offer higher compensation compared to big cities and popular travel destinations. If you’re new to the West Coast and not sure where to start looking for jobs, start with our California travel nursing guide or checkout our location explorer where you can search by city, region, cost of living, and even “weather” or “night life”.
California cities with the highest Travel RN salaries last year
|City||Avg weekly salary||Max weekly salary|
|Daly City, CA||$2,625||$3,126|
|San Jose, CA||$2,416||$2,692|
|Woodland Hills, CA||$2,337||$3,146|
How does a Travel Nurse RN salary in California compare to other states?
In locations where there is a greater need for nursing staff, pay tends to be higher. Some states also have a higher cost of living so employers offer higher compensation relative to those costs. Keep in mind, each state has specific licensing requirements.
In 2019, California ranked 1st for highest paying travel RN jobs. The average gross weekly salary in California was +20% higher than the average for all states.
See how California compares to states with the highest travel RN salaries throughout last year and for jobs posted last month.
Top 10 highest paying states for travel RN jobs last year
|State||Avg Weekly Salary||Max Weekly Salary|
|District of Columbia||$1,857||$3,380|
Travel Nurse salary FAQs