Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
April 11, 2023 - 7 min read

Travel Nursing in Virginia | Top Paying Specialties & Cities 2023

Virginia, home to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, is an excellent place to start your travel nursing career. Placed in a prime location on the East Coast, travel nurses can experience a little bit of the North and the South.

Overall, the cost of living is lower in Virginia, so travel nurse pay will reflect that in certain areas. However, higher wages can be found around Richmond and Northern Virginia as compared to rural areas of the state.

Travel nurses will find contracts around the state with relative ease. With its apt state motto, Virginia is For Lovers, travel nurses will absolutely fall in love with this beautiful state.

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

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make in Virginia?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses in Virginia earn an average annual salary of $76,680 or $36.87 per hour which is slightly lower than the national average.

The top 90% of nurses in Virginia earn $100,990. The lowest 10% earn an average salary of $59,170 which is significantly below the national average. The BLS does not differentiate between different nurse specialties but rather provides a general median salary for all registered nurses, so salaries can fluctuate between specialties or staff nurse vs. travel nurse.

Highest Paying Locations in Virginia

Indeed.com reports an average base salary of $2,371 per week and $55,53 per hour with top-paying locations in Falls Church, Lynchburg, Norfolk, Mechanicsville, and Salam, Virginia. Here is a deeper look into each one.

CityHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly Wage
Falls Church$71.77$3,064$11,858

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

Highest Paying Nursing Specialties in Virginia

The highest-paid travel nursing specialties depend on a variety of factors including location within the state, demand, and urgency of needs. Regardless of specialty, increased demand will cause wages to increase.

Nurses will see an increase in pay packages if they have advanced certifications such as CCRN, IBCLC, or CPN. Advanced skill sets such as ECMO or dialysis training will also garner travel nurses higher wages. Travel nurses with BLS, ACLS, and PALS will not see a bump in pay as those are standard certifications that are needed for most nursing positions.

Generally, the top-paying travel nurse specialties are:

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

Top 5 Hospitals in Virginia

Virginia has 122 hospitals in the state. Seventeen of those meet high U.S. News standards to be ranked. According to the U.S. News & World Report, here are the top 5 Virginia hospitals that were evaluated and ranked. The top five hospitals in Virginia as of 2022-2023 were as follows:

1. Inova Fairfax Hospital

  • Location: Falls Church
  • Nationally Ranked: 1 Specialty & 1 Children’s Specialty
  • High Performing: 5 Specialties & 17 Procedures/Conditions

2. University of Virginia Medical Center

  • Location: Charlottesville
  • Nationally Ranked: 6 Children’s Specialty
  • High Performing: 6 Specialties & 14 Procedures/Conditions

3. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital

  • Location: Norfolk
  • High Performing: 5 Specialties & 11 Procedures/Conditions

4. VCU Medical Center

  • Location: Richmond
  • Nationally Ranked: 1 Specialty & 3 Children’s Specialty
  • High Performing: 5 Specialties & 10 Procedures/Conditions

5. Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital

  • Location: Falls Church
  • High Performing: 1 Specialty & 14 Procedures/Conditions
Top 5 hospitals in Virginia

Cost of Living for Travel Nurses in Virginia

Cost of living is defined as the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses such as food, taxes, healthcare, and housing. Despite all travel nurse companies providing a stipend for housing, at times this has proven to not be enough. Furthermore, depending on the location – hotels may not be a viable long-term solution.

According to Bestplaces.net, the overall cost of living in Virginia is 4.2% higher than the national average.

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


  • National Average: 3% lower
  • Median Home Price: $397,254
  • Median Rent: $1,208/month
  • Energy Bill: $184.42/month
  • Groceries: 6% lower


  • National Average: 3% higher
  • Median Home Price: $482,477
  • Median Rent: $1,467/month
  • Energy Bill: $175.94/month
  • Groceries: 3% lower


  • National Average: 2% higher
  • Median Home Price: $450,781
  • Median Rent: $1,371/month
  • Energy Bill: $184.42/month
  • Groceries: 6% lower


  • National Average: 37% higher
  • Median Home Price: $894,611
  • Median Rent: $2,720/month
  • Energy Bill: $172.05/month
  • Groceries: 10% higher


  • National Average: 41% higher
  • Median Home Price: $997,420
  • Median Rent: $3,033 / month
  • Energy Bill: $171.52 / month
  • Groceries: 10% higher

Pros & Cons of Travel Nursing in Virginia

With any career, there are pros and cons to the job. Travel nursing is no exception. It’s important to take into consideration your own personal circumstances:

  • Family obligations
  • Education career goals
  • Your specific reasons for wanting to be a travel nurse – some reasons that other nurses might see as a negative may in fact be a positive for you
  • Desire to travel and see other parts of the country

Pros of Travel Nursing in Virginia

  1. Increased earning potential – Travel nurses have the ability to earn significantly more money than staff nurses. Furthermore, travel nurses actually take home more after taxes due to reimbursements and incentives not being considered “taxable income”. Most receive agency-provided housing or have a sizeable monthly allowance to put toward housing expenses.
  2. Travel! – Most travel nurses start this adventure to experience different cities and states that they may not otherwise get to experience. It is also great for nurses who are not sure where they ultimately want to settle down.
  3. Flexibility – Travel nurses have the ability to take a contract when they want and where they want. This can be extremely enticing for travel nurses who are in school or want to be home for the holiday season. Travel nurses have the ability to take time off between contracts and travel the country or world. It also allows for time to spend with family and friends.
  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 other 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 in Virginia

  1. Always the new person – Being new to a unit can be exciting but can also be frustrating or even lonely. Not knowing anyone in a new city or on the unit can be tough, especially on days off.
  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. This may not be ideal, but it is the reality of being a travel nurse, especially in a highly desired state.
  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. Some travel nurses, depending on their specialty, will have non-float clauses in their contracts. 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 – This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of travel nursing. While travel nurse companies offer their nurses places to live during each contract, many experienced travel nurses will take the housing stipend instead. In major cities such as Richmond and Arlington, it might be easier to find your own housing but in rural areas of Virginia, it might be more difficult.
  5. Changing health insurance policies – Depending on the agency, with each contract may come with a new health insurance policy. If you switch between multiple agencies, then there will most likely be a lapse in your health insurance. This may not be ideal for travel nurses with children or families that are on their health insurance. A more viable option might be private insurance. Check out our insurance guide for more information.

Things To Do on Your Days Off in Virginia

Best things to do on your days off in Virginia for travel nurses
  • Historic Cities – Virginia is home to colonial Williamsburg. Founded in 1632 by English settlers and the former capital, Virginia is ideal for history buffs. It was the center of all political events during the American Revolution. Home to eight U.S. presidents, there are historic presidential homes scattered throughout the state.
  • Hiking – Virginia is a hiker’s paradise. There are epic hiking trips on the Appalachian Trail. Travel nurses can spend their days off exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, waterfalls, and native wildflowers.
  • Vineyards – Virginia is a wine lover’s dream. There are over 300 wineries making over 12 different kinds of wine. Virginia ranks in the top 10 states for wine lovers in the country. Travel nurses can spend their days exploring the different vineyards, relaxing on patios overlooking the beautiful Virginia sunset, and making new friends during wine-tasting classes.
  • Sunny Beaches – Virginia Beach and Norfolk are ideal locations for beach lovers. Virginia has over 7,000 miles of waterway coastline. Travel nurses can spend their days relaxing on sandy beaches and exploring cute coastal towns. Even if the ocean isn’t your thing – they are inland bays and lagoons that are ideal for different watersports including fishing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing.

Why Virginia?

Virginia is an ideal location for travel nurses, especially those that are new to the travel nursing game. While travel nurse wages might not be the highest in the country, there are plenty of jobs available at some of the top hospitals in the country. With plenty of options for things to do on the day off including hiking and sandy beaches – Virginia is a perfect location.

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

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