9 Best Travel Nurse Companies of 2023
Are you ready to try travel nursing? Working with a travel nurse staffing agency can make it easier to find travel nursing jobs and to negotiate pay rates and benefits. An agency gives you a point of contact who can help you navigate job listings and compensation packages.
The sooner you find the right company, the faster you can start traveling.
How To Find The Right Travel Nursing Company
When looking for the best travel nursing company to suit your needs, you first have to know what your needs are.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering travel nursing companies:
- Are you going to need health insurance?
- How important is it that you contribute to your retirement?
- Do you prefer to find your own housing or do you want your company to find it for you?
- Where do you want to travel?
- How do you plan on getting there?
- Do you plan on working per diem as well?
- What kind of healthcare facilities are you hoping to work in?
What to Look for in Travel Nursing Agencies
When looking into travel nurse agencies you should first make sure that they provide the basics: free housing or a housing stipend, health and dental insurance, a retirement plan, travel reimbursement, 24-hour customer support, and a variety and abundance of travel nursing jobs all over the country.
Here are a few tips from my experience about the basics:
Travel Nurse Housing:
Do you want your agency to find housing for you, or do you want to take the housing stipend and search for housing yourself?
I personally found it much easier to have my agency set up my housing for me. This way I knew it was safe, furnished, close to where I was working, and paid for. If there were any problems, all I had to do was call my company and it would be handled.
Many people choose to find their own housing and take the housing stipend instead. There are pros and cons to this choice:
Pros To Choosing Housing Stipends
- Your housing stipend depends on the city you live in, but oftentimes, it is more than the rent you end up paying. This is a good way to make some extra tax-free cash.
- You can find exactly the type of housing you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay. You can rent just a room for yourself and pocket a lot of cash. Or rent an entire house if you’re bringing your family or pets along. If you’re traveling with fellow coworkers, you can find a bigger house to share that fits everyone.
- You can choose where you live. Maybe you’re going to Seattle and you’d rather live downtown and commute to work than vs. living next to the hospital in the suburbs.
- There are several websites and groups now to help you find housing
- Once you’ve done it once, you understand how to find housing and can repeat the process in the next location.
Cons To Choosing Housing Stipends
- It can be difficult to find short-term furnished housing.
- Many landlords require a deposit, so you have to front that money before you get your first paycheck.
- If you end up extending your contract, it’s not guaranteed that your landlord hasn’t rented out the place to someone else.
- If you have never been to that city before, it can also be tough to determine whether a neighborhood is safe or not.
Another thing to keep in mind, if you are traveling with a pet, it may make it difficult to find your own housing. Oftentimes, travel nurse agencies have housing already contracted that accepts pets.
There are pros and cons to using your a travel nurse agency’s contracted housing vs. finding your own housing. It just depends on how much time and effort you can put into the search and if you’re hoping to pocket any extra housing stipend cash.
Benefits for Travel Nurses:
- The majority of travel nurse companies offer health and dental insurance.
- Now that the Affordable Care Act is in place, it might be wise to research whether or not it would be more cost-effective for you to go with your agency’s healthcare plan or purchase one of your own through healthcare.org. The benefit of going through healthcare.org is that if you do plan on switching travel nurse agencies, you won’t have to change your insurance.
- Some smaller travel nurse companies will give you a healthcare stipend if you don’t take their health insurance so you can purchase your own.
- As far as retirement plans go, I decided to open up my own Roth IRA and not contribute to the 401K because I didn’t know how long I was going to be traveling. With some companies you can contribute to your 401K from day 1 and with others you have to wait as long as 1 year.
Travel Nurse Reimbursements
When talking with your potential travel nurse agency, make sure you ask them what the reimbursement is for travel. “Travel” cost is considered the amount of money it takes you to get from your “tax home” to your travel assignment or from one assignment to the next. Often times this can be negotiated if there is a high need in one state that happens to be across the country.
I have found that the average reimbursement is $500.
They will pay you half on your first paycheck and the other half when you complete your assignment. You have the option of either driving or flying to your next destination. I personally drove to each of my assignments; I couldn’t imagine trying to fit all my belongings into suitcases and I love road trips.
Important Pay and Benefits Questions to Ask
Not all benefits or pay packages are created equal. It is important to find an agency that offers benefits, housing, and pay packages that are specific to your needs.
1. What destinations does your agency serve?
The whole point of travel nursing is to travel…right? So it is important to find a company that serves the city or cities you want to travel to. Some agencies claim they have contracts nationwide, however, that may not be the case.
If you know of a specific hospital that you would like to travel to because it looks good on your resume or a specific city you want to explore, then make sure your potential agency has a contract at that location. This is especially important if you want to travel to places such as Hawaii and Alaska.
2. How are your pay packages broken down?
Does the company tend to pay a higher base rate with lower non-taxable reimbursements or a lower base rate with higher non-taxable reimbursements?
Having a higher base rate may serve you better if you plan on taking company housing, plan on buying a house, or getting a loan in the near future. If you are someone who likes to find their own housing, then a higher housing stipend may be the way to go with a lower base rate.
3. What types of housing do you provide?
Most agencies offer a one-bedroom furnished apartment for your typical 13-week contract. This typically does not include dishes, linen, a washer and dryer, a T.V., or even a vacuum. If you don’t like lugging your belongings around with you all over the country or paying out of pocket to rent this stuff, then it may be wise to either ask if the agency provides any of these necessities at no cost or find your own housing.
If your contract is only eight weeks, then you could get stuck in an extended-stay hotel. I personally like to have nice housing, so I wanted a company that focused on providing comfortable and safe housing options. If you like to find your own housing then this may not apply to you.
4. What type of benefits do you offer?
Most agencies offer medical/dental benefits and a retirement package. If these benefits are important to you, then finding a company with good benefits is essential.
If you like to live on the edge with no health benefits and you brush and floss your teeth like a champ, then maybe you don’t care about benefits. If this is the case then you can ask the company if they are willing to pay you a higher base rate for not taking their benefits.
As far as retirement packages go, I found it easier to do my own Roth IRA on the side. This way, if I switched companies I didn’t have to worry about moving my money all over the place.
5. What types of extra work-related costs do you reimburse for?
Travel nurse companies can reimburse you for the following:
- Licensing fees
- CEU (Continuing Education) requirements
- Bus passes
- Required immunizations
Some travel nurse agencies have a CEU database that is free for their employees. This helps cut costs in those states that require a certain number to maintain or acquire a new license.
These extra costs add up over time so it’s nice to know your agency is looking out for your pocketbook.
6. What are your missed and canceled shift policies?
A missed shift means you called in sick, and a canceled shift means they canceled you for low census. For the most part, the hospital determines how the travel nurse agency handles this, and it will be written in your contract.
This is important because in the travel nurse world if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. And in some cases, you may have to reimburse your agency for housing costs.
There may be a clause written in your contract that allows you to “miss” a certain amount of shifts without being penalized. There will also be a clause that states how many shifts the hospital can cancel you. Usually, it’s once a pay period, and your agency shouldn’t require you to reimburse them for housing costs.
There are even some agencies that offer 100% guaranteed shifts meaning no matter what you will not get canceled.
Other Questions To Ask a Travel Nurse Agency:
- What is the travel reimbursement?
- How much will health insurance cost me?
- If I don’t take health insurance, do I get a healthcare stipend?
- When can I start contributing to my 401K?
- Are there bonuses for extending assignments?
- How often do I get paid?
- Does the company also contract per diem work?
- Do they offer paid time off?
- Are there any referral bonuses available?
9 Best Travel Nursing Agencies
Here is a list and highlights of a few travel nursing companies to consider.
All of these companies offer the basics such as housing, benefits, travel reimbursement, staffing in all 50 states, and 24-hour customer support.
|RNnetwork||Established almost 20 years ago. Offers customized pay, day one benefits, 401(k) contributions, 24/7 clinical support, and license reimbursement. Founded on the principle of personalized service. Owned by CHG Healthcare Services—one of the nation’s largest healthcare staffing companies.|
|Jackson Nursing||Founded in 2006. Emphasizes volunteerism amongst their staff. They offer medical mission opportunities. They also staff government agencies such as the VA, Department of Defense Medical treatment centers, Indian Health Services, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.|
|Aureus Medical Group||Established over 25 years ago. One of the largest in the nation. They have a student outreach program for new registered nurses. They also offer tuition reimbursement for up to $12,000 as well as paid time off (PTO) after working 2,080 hours.|
|Trustaff||Established in 2002, Trustaff has thousands of jobs nationwide for all specialties, nursing and allied. They also offer licensure reimbursement, benefits starting at $23/week, and 24/7 clinical support.|
|AYA||Established 2001. Staffs multiple healthcare professionals. They also contract per diem work. You can see some of their nurses on MTV’s “Scrubbing In” TV show.|
|Nightingale Nursing||Offers immediate 401K contribution as well as extension bonuses. They also offer per diem work.|
|Mellenia Medical Staffing||Established in 1998. The offer contracts for government facilities such as the VA, Department of Defense medical centers, Indian Health Services, and The Federal Bureau of Prisons in addition to standard travel assignments.|
|Sagent||Established 2001. Offers immediate 401K contribution. Offers license reimbursement as well as VisaScreen and NCLEX-RN exam reimbursement for international travelers.|
|Trinity Healthcare Staffing Group||Established 1999 by a travel nurse who wanted to increase professionalism in the industry. They offer positions in all 50 states and take care of the ground work of securing a position and working out compensation packages and benefits.|
Find the Best Travel Nurse Agency for You
There are a number of travel nursing companies to choose from.
Finding the best travel nursing company that fits your needs and a recruiter that has your best interests in mind are absolutely essential for an enjoyable travel nursing experience.
The right staffing agency for you is out there, now is the time to find them!