Emily Bryant MSN, RN
Emily Bryant MSN, RN
February 10, 2023 - 5 min read

Travel Nursing in North Carolina | Top Paying Specialties & Cities 2023

Travel Nursing in North Carolina

North Carolina has it all. From an entire coastline of beaches or the Great Smoky Mountains to vibrant cities filled with rich culture, this state does not suffer from a lack of appeal. There are endless opportunities for nurses to invest in the local lives of their coworkers and fill their days off with endless adventures. North Carolina has 39 state parks which can provide an excellent start in your search for this state’s beauty.

Although you will not find the highest-paying contracts in North Carolina, the low cost of living makes the monthly balance almost even out to some of the higher-paying states. The state has plenty of contracts for almost all specialties giving travel nurses many options and opportunities. North Carolina can satisfy a nurse’s thirst for adventure while also welcoming them into the local life with its incredibly warm culture and population.

Looking for travel nurse assignments in North Carolina? Speak with a recruiter today!

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make in North Carolina?

Great question! And as mentioned above, you won’t get the absolute top dollar working in North Carolina. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the average nurse in North Carolina makes $71,200 annually. Unfortunately, if money is your top priority, North Carolina’s wages won’t do much to impress you as they are lower than the county’s average nursing salary of $77,600. However, the lower cost of living helps offset the pay decrease.

Based on a Med/Surg travel contract at three 12-hour shifts per week, the highest-paying North Carolina cities are as follows:

  1. Statesville – $3,150/ week
  2. Smithfield – $2,907/ week
  3. Monroe – $2,899/ week
  4. Charlotte – $2,888/ week
  5. Jacksonville – $2,795/ week

Highest-Paying Specialties in North Carolina

Like any travel contract, the pay rate varies largely based on the specialty of nursing. North Carolina as a whole sees a steady stream of patients, as it does not have a dramatic seasonal influx of volume. Regionally, however, the mountains and beaches have slightly variable patient census due to predictable vacation patterns. As of the beginning of 2023, the highest-paying specialties in North Carolina are:

  1. OR- $3,961/ week
  2. CVOR- $3,961/ week
  3. PICU- $3,774/ week
  4. ED- $3,550/ week
  5. Peds – $3,492/ week

Top 5 Hospitals in North Carolina

North Carolina has multiple hospitals that are known nationwide for their different specialty services. According to U.S. New World and Reports, North Carolina has over 20 recognized hospitals for different achievements.

Here are the top 5 rated hospitals in North Carolina:

1. Duke University Hospital

  • Location: Durham
  • Nationally Ranked: 11 Specialties
  • High Performing: 2 Specialties & 19 Procedures/Conditions

2. UNC Hospital

  • Location: Chapel Hill
  • Nationally Ranked: 4 Specialties
  • High Performing: 4 Specialties & 13 Procedures/Conditions

3. Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center

  • Location: Charlotte
  • Nationally Ranked: 8 Specialties
  • High Performing: 4 Specialties & 15 Procedures/Conditions

4. ECU Health Medical Center

  • Location: Greenville
  • High Performing: 3 Specialties & 14 Procedures/Conditions

5. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital

  • Location: Greensboro
  • High Performing: 1 Specialty & 18 Procedures/Conditions

Cost of Living for Travel Nurses in North Carolina

The increase in the cost of living nationwide has caused many travelers to see a decrease in their overall take-home wages. However, North Carolina still remains under the “average” mark when compared to other states. In a comparison between the cost of living by BestPlaces.net between Charlotte, NC, and Seattle, WA, Seattle is 68.3% higher in the overall cost of living index. However, the cost of food prices is relatively the same between both places.

Housing for travelers creates its own set of challenges no matter where you decide to travel. With the increasing popularity and discussion surrounding travel nursing, prices for short-term housing have increased as well. On the bright side, North Carolina has several large university systems. This usually means a much larger scope of housing options, as there are many traveling professionals and students that cycle through these cities.

Pros & Cons of Travel Nursing in North Carolina

Pros of Travel Nursing in North Carolina

  • You have access to a large variety of landscapes and outdoor activities.
  • The culture is warm and welcoming and will give you a taste of southern hospitality.
  • The climate is mild, ranging from 50 degrees to the 90s in the summer. North Carolina provides a comfortable climate to live in.
  • There are plenty of historical sites and cultural exertions you can spend your time enjoying.
  • You will find incredible southern food. Some will even argue that North Carolina has the best barbecue in America.

Cons of Travel Nursing in North Carolina

  • The pay is lower than for many other travel contracts. There is no way to sugarcoat it. With the rise in travel nurse pay, North Carolina still does not offer competitive pay.
  • North Carolina is prone to be affected by hurricanes. Keep that in mind when searching for contracts, especially if doing so during hurricane season.
  • If you are looking to be within a short drive of other big cities, you don’t have the accessibility you would in New England, for example.
  • Limited public transportation, especially if you aren’t bringing your own car.
  • The school system is not rated very highly, so if you are traveling with your children and plan on enrolling in school during your travels, this might be a consideration.

Things To Do on Your Days Off

North Carolina provides endless opportunities for fun days off from the bedside. In the winter months, be sure to buy tickets to see some of the basketball games at either Duke or UNC. But beware – basketball is life in North Carolina, so choose your team wisely. You could also spend your spare time reading and researching some of the many historical sites and memorials throughout the state, and then spend a day off and take a tour of those locations.

The Outer Banks provides a unique time for people to see the state’s magical coastline. They also are home to countless other incredible beaches to watch the sunrise over the horizon. The mountains on the western side of the state have nationally known trails for mountain biking as well as some incredible hiking trails. You could even spend a day trekking part of the Appalachian Trail or delivering supplies as a random act of kindness to thru-hikers. You must add a trip to see the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the list as well, as it is one of the most visited parks in America.

Speak with a recruiter about available travel nursing assignments in North Caroline!

Why North Carolina?

North Carolina provides an amazing amount of options for a travel nurse to both love their job, as well as their life outside of work. With so many well-known and respected specialties at so many hospitals, North Carolina provides job opportunities for just about every nurse. There are also activities for the history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or even wine connoisseur. Take a leap of adventure and consider a contract in North Carolina to experience the warm, southern hospitality.

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