Non-COVID Travel Nurse Assignments | Salary & Location 2021
By now, we’re well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden influx of critically ill patients fueled an unprecedented demand for travel nurses. But not every travel nurse wants to work a COVID unit or has experience in the ICU in order to qualify.
So what’s a travel nurse who is interested in finding a non-COVID contract to do? Let’s take a look at what the landscape for non-COVID travel nurse jobs looks like.
Travel Nursing During COVID
As the Nejm Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery journal reported in October 2020, the first wave of COVID-19 resulted in an increased demand for ICU travel nurses in hot spots like Massachusetts and New York — available contracts were up 612% and 1,038% respectively. During the second wave, available ICU travel nurse jobs continued to climb, including an increase of 732% in Arizona and by 927% in Texas.
As you can imagine, pay for travel nurses also increased. The journal found that by April, the average weekly pay for ICU travel nurses in New York had increased by as much as 74%. Massachusetts saw an average weekly salary increase of 39%, while Florida nurses’ weekly salary went up by 33%. By July, Arizona saw an increase of 44% while Florida demand increased by 61%.
Overall, if you were a travel nurse who had any interest in working in a COVID unit or ICU during the past year, you had ample opportunity to find a job and make significantly more money than in the past.
For some travel nurses, it was a chance to expand into a new field and try something new. For others, it was an opportunity to take a job that held deep meaning and help in a time of crisis. But not everyone needs to be a COVID nurse.
COVID has actually created job opportunities outside of the acute care setting and, in states not experiencing outbreaks, regular travel nurse assignments are still available.
Non-COVID Nurse Travel Jobs
The challenge with finding non-COVID travel nurse jobs is many hospitals in hot spots have cancelled or reduced elective procedures and non-essential medical services. As a result, many staff nurses have been floated or laid off and there’s simply less demand for travel nurses at those facilities.
But COVID itself has created some additional opportunities for travel nurses, including:
Vaccine Clinic Nurses
From mass vaccination clinics to health departments to private facilities offering vaccinations, many are turning to travel nurses to fill these temporary roles. RNs are vital to vaccination clinics where they do everything from educate, screen patients, administer the vaccine and monitor them for any reactions after injection.
Travel nurses are ideal vaccine clinic RNs because these are temporary positions and staffing needs are variable. They’re also a good opportunity for LPNs to take on temporary assignments too. For travel nurses who are looking for positions that keep them out of the ICU, a clinic can be an ideal environment. Plus, as someone with experience working as a vaccine nurse myself in a volunteer capacity, I can confirm it’s also an incredibly rewarding and fun place to be.
The pressing need for vaccine nurses has slowed as vaccination rates overall in the country have decreased. Currently, there aren’t a lot of specific positions for travel vaccine nurses, although that could change as numbers increase and flu season begins.
OR — both pre and post-op — is a booming travel nurse job right now, as non-emergency and elective procedures get rescheduled. If you’re seeking a position as an OR travel nurse, here are some of the locations and pay rates currently available:
- Elmhurst, NY: $5.8k/week
- Bronx, NY: $5.8k/week
- New York, NY: $5.8k/week
- Baltimore, MD: $3.3k/week
- Atlanta, GA: $3k/week
- Savannah, GA: $2.8k/week
- Paducah, KY: $2.6k/week
There has been a steady stream of hemodialysis travel nurse positions throughout the pandemic and many of them come with high pay.
For instance, here are the rates currently available for hemodialysis positions right now:
- Sioux Falls, SD: $2,277/week
- Bay City, MI: $2,142/week
- Lansing, MI: $1,227/week
- Mildford, MA: $1,196/week
Labor and Delivery Nurses
Pandemic or no pandemic, babies will keep coming. L&D travel nursing positions are always available.
Here’s a sampling of some L&D jobs open right now for travel nurses:
- California: $5.2k/week
- Idaho, $5.2k/week
- California: $4.9k/week
- Illinois: $4.8k/week
- Washington, $4.7k/week
- New Jersey: $4.7k/week
- North Carolina: $4.3k/week
Infusion nursing is also a specialty that has seen increased demand since the beginning of the pandemic. Although infusions can be done for a variety of medical conditions, antibody infusion therapy is increasingly being offered for COVID-19 patients. It’s sometimes offered as an outpatient treatment, meaning you won’t necessarily need to be on an actual COVID unit in order to be an infusion nurse.
Here are the salaries currently available for open infusion nurse positions:
- Burlington, VT: $3.1k/week
- St. Joseph, MO: $2.8k/week
- Medford, OR: $2.8k/week
- Ann Arbor, MI: $2.8k/week
- Dubuque, IA: $2.7k/week
Psychiatric nursing is always a need in travel nursing and there are opportunities across the country for experienced nurses, as well as nurses new to the field.
Some available pay rates by state include:
- Muskogee, OK: $3.4K/week
- Medford, OR: $2.9K/week
- Boise, ID: $2.8K/week
- Asheville, NC: $2.8K/week
- Devens, MA: 2.6K/week
There are always lots of Med/Surg openings for travel nurses. If your goal is to avoid working on the COVID unit, you should speak with your recruiter ahead of time, to ensure you won’t be floated.
Some available pay rates by state include:
- California, $4.2k/week
- Idaho, $4.1k/week
- North Carolina, $4.1k/week
- Pennsylvania: $4k/week
- Rhode Island, $3.9k/week
- North Dakota: $3.8k/week
- Minnesota: $3.7k/week
- South Carolina: $3.7k/week
- Texas: $3.6k/week
Non-COVID Travel Nursing Positions
If you’re a travel nurse looking to avoid the COVID unit — or even if you’re a COVID nurse needed a break to recuperate from burnout — there are plenty of opportunities to travel during the pandemic.