Kathleen Gaines
Kathleen Gaines
October 15, 2021 - 7 min read

Travel Nursing in Texas | Top Paying Specialties & Cities 2021

Travel nursing provides an exciting opportunity to see parts of the United States while making some serious money. Texas, one of the most sought-after states for travel nurses, has beach towns along the Gulf, a rich Hispanic culture, and major cities that still have a small-town feel. Major cities such as Dallas, Houston, and Austin attract young nurses who want to enjoy the nightlife as well as cultures rich in history.

If you’re considering a travel nursing assignment in the Lone Star State, this guide will help you learn more about travel nursing in Texas and discover why it might be a great fit for you!

Speak with a recruiter about available travel nursing assignments in Texas!

COVID & travel nurses in Texas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported 62,922 COVID cases and 1,790 deaths in the last seven days (as of October 4, 2021). This includes a positivity rate of 10% to 14.9%.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,057,845 positive COVID cases in Texas and 64,281 deaths. Reports indicate that 59% of the population has received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and 51% are fully vaccinated.

Texas has been particularly hard hit with COVID cases, especially during the surge from the delta variant. As a result, news reports indicate that more than ever, Texas is relying on travel nurses to fill the staffing shortage, maintain patient care and help relieve overwhelmed hospitals.

Even before the pandemic, the Department of State Health Services projected Texas would be short 30,000 nurses by 2025. The pandemic has sped up this projection and increased the number.

Sophia Morris, Vice President of Account Management for the travel nursing agency Aya Healthcare, said “There are more than 6,500 out-of-state personnel needed within Texas to assist with surging case numbers and hospitalizations. Of those 6,500 positions, more than half of them are designated ‘crisis needs.'”

The surge in job postings for travel nurse RNs in Texas is expected to continue. A travel nursing recruiter can help you navigate the current listings.

How much do travel nurses make in Texas?

According to ZipRecruiter, the top locations for travel nurses are Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.

Dallas

  • Hourly Wage: $46.05
  • Weekly: $1,842
  • Monthly: $7,982

Houston

  • Hourly Wage: $51.58
  • Weekly: $2,063
  • Monthly: $8,941

San Antonio

  • Hourly Wage: $39.31
  • Weekly: $1,573
  • Monthly: $6,814

Austin

  • Hourly Wage: $44.51
  • Weekly: $1,780
  • Monthly: $7,715

Highest paying nursing specialties in Texas

The highest-paid travel nursing specialties depend on a variety of factors including location, demand, and urgency of needs. Right now, the demand for travel nurses in Texas is extremely high due to COVID and crisis contracts. As a result, the wages that are being offered are steadily increasing. Unfortunately, this is not being seen across all disciplines of nursing.

Historically speaking, the top paying travel nurse specialties are:

  1. Labor and Delivery
  2. Operating Room
  3. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  4. Post-anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
  5. Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

With COVID, the top paying travel nurse jobs have changed. Pay rates are now often more influenced by location. According to ZipRecruiter, the following cities have these top-paying specialties:

Dallas

  • ICU Travel Nurse: $60.22/hour
  • Operating Room Travel Nurse: $57.64/hour
  • Emergency Room Travel Nurse: $56.27/hour
  • ICU Travel Nurse: $52.85/hour

Houston

  • Cardiac Care Unit Travel Nurse: $57.43/hour
  • Intensive Care Unit Travel Nurse: $57.18/hour
  • Critical Care Travel Nurse: $54.33/hour

San Antonio

  • ICU Travel Nurse: $49.75/hour
  • ER Travel Nurse: $48.29/hour
  • Operating Room Travel Nurse: $46.86/hour

Austin

  • ICU Travel Nurse: $58.08/hour
  • Operating Room Travel Nurse: $55.53/hour
  • Emergency Room Travel Nurse: $54.21/hour
  • Telemetry Travel Nurse: $51.48/hour

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

Top 5 hospitals in Texas

With more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, Texas is the second-largest U.S. state by both area and population. With such a large population, Texas has multiple cities with over a million residents including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.

According to U.S. World News and Report, 584 hospitals were evaluated in Texas with thirty-one meeting the standards set forth by the ranking. The top five hospitals in Texas as of 2020 were:

#1. Houston Methodist Hospital

  • Location: Houston
  • Nationally Ranked: 10 Adult Specialties
  • High Performing: 17 Procedures/Conditions

#2. UT Southwestern Medical Center

  • Location: Dallas
  • Nationally Ranked: 9 Adult Specialties
  • High Performing: 1 Adult Specialty & 14 Procedures/Conditions

#3. Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center

  • Location: Houston
  • Nationally Ranked: 5 Adult Specialties
  • High Performing: 2 Adult Specialties & 13 Procedures/Conditions

#4. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

  • Location: Houston
  • Nationally Ranked: 2 Adult Specialties & 2 Children’s Specialties
  • High Performing: 7 Adult Specialties & 13 Procedures/Conditions

#5. Baylor University Medical Center

  • Location: Dallas
  • Nationally Ranked: 3 Adult Specialties
  • High Performing: 4 Adult Specialties & 11 Procedures/Conditions

Cost of living for registered nurses in Texas

As the national cost of living continues to rise, Texas has also seen a recent increase in the cost of living. Cost of living is defined as the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare.

The cost of living is always higher in larger cities than smaller towns so housing will cost more in Dallas and El Paso than in Abilene and Lewisville. The National Association of Realtors reports that the median home price in Austin was $367,100 in 2020 while the national median was $299,900.

According to Bestplaces.net, the assigned rate for the overall cost of living in Texas is 93.9. The number is below 100 which means Texas overall is cheaper than the US average. Interestingly, Texas’ housing cost is significantly below the national average at 84.3, while transportation is 103.3, above the national average.

Payscale.com reports on the cost of living in major Texas cities including the median home price, median rent, monthly energy bill.

Dallas

  • National Average: 2% higher
  • Median Home Price: $364,003
  • Median Rent: $1,140/month
  • Energy Bill: $174.87/month

Austin

  • National Average: 3% lower
  • Median Home Price: $353,246
  • Median Rent: $1,107/month
  • Energy Bill: $147.04/month

Houston

  • National Average: 2% lower
  • Median Home Price: $363,656
  • Median Rent: $1,139/month
  • Energy Bill: $185.43/month

Fort Worth

  • National Average: 2% higher
  • Median Home Price: $327,915
  • Median Rent: $1,027/month
  • Energy Bill: $168.67/month

San Antonio

  • National Average: 14% lower
  • Median Home Price: $262,332
  • Median Rent: $821.77/month
  • Energy Bill: $147.04/month

A great resource to calculate your current salary and town versus a city in Texas is CNN’s Cost of Living Calculator.

Pros & cons of travel nursing

With any career, there are pros and cons to the job. Travel nursing is no different. It’s important to take into consideration your own personal circumstances, family obligations, and reasons for wanting to be a travel nurse. Reasons that some nurses might see as a con may in fact be a positive for you.

Pros of travel nursing

  1. Increased earning potential: Travel nurses have the ability to earn significantly more money than staff nurses. Furthermore, they can make more due to reimbursements and incentives. Most travel nurses receive free housing or have a monthly allowance to put toward housing expenses.
  2. Travel: One of the main reasons travel nurses start this adventure is to experience different cities and states they may not otherwise get to visit. It also is great for nurses that are not sure where they ultimately want to settle down.
  3. Flexibility: You have the ability to take a contract when you want to and where you want to. If you really want to travel to Hawaii, you have the ability to find a contract that fits your needs.
  4. Networking: Most don’t consider this a huge pro of travel nursing, but it is! With an increase in the number of nurses that go on for an advanced degree, making connections with different hospitals, providers, and nurses can be very important when trying to find preceptors for graduate-level clinical rotations.
  5. Avoid hospital and unit politics: Most don’t like to admit it but bedside nursing comes with drama and politics. It can be as simple as a hierarchy based on seniority or something more serious. Being a travel nurse allows you to avoid all of this by not being fully invested in the unit but rather helping out for a very specific amount of time.

Cons of travel nursing

  1. Always the new person: Being new to a unit can be exciting but can also be frustrating or even lonely. Not knowing anyone on the unit can affect the type of help you will get in your work environment.
  2. Not the best assignments: Some hospitals will assign travel nurses patients just like any other nurse on the unit. Others will assign them the easiest patients, the hardest patients, or the ones that no one wants to deal with.
  3. First to float to another unit: Despite being contracted to a specific unit, most travel nurses will have to float to other parts of the hospital within their skill set. This again will make you the new person which can affect how others perceive you as well as assist you throughout the shift.
  4. Finding a place to live: All travel nurse companies offer their nurses places to live during each contract. However, it may not always be in the location that you want, have the amenities you desire, and/or fit your needs. Contracts will offer a housing stipend instead, which most travel nurses take, but then finding appropriate housing falls on you.
  5. Changing health insurance policies: With each contract may come a new health insurance policy. This will be dependent on the agency that you work with. If you switch between multiple agencies then there will most likely be a lapse in your health insurance. However, nurses can opt for private insurance and pay out of pocket. That way, when the assignment ends, you won’t lose your insurance.

Why travel nurse in Texas?

Texas is a great state with sunny weather, great Southwestern food, a rich cultural scene, pristine beaches, and vibrant nightlife.

With an ongoing high demand for travel nurses of all specialties and very competitive wages, Texas is a great fit for anyone interested in becoming a travel nurse. Whether it is your first travel contract or your fifteenth, travel nursing in Texas has something to offer anyone willing to explore!

Speak with a recruiter about available travel nursing assignments in Texas!

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