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8 Types of Pay Rates That May Affect Your Travel Nursing Salary

If you’re like most travel nurses, the hourly rate offered for a new gig is one of the first things you look at when evaluating a job offer. But, not all pay rates are created equal. Here are 8 types of pay rates that may influence your travel nursing salary.

1. Standard rates

Just as it sounds, standard rates are the one-size-fits-all of travel nursing pay rates. Hospitals negotiate standard rates with agencies, assigning specific hourly rates to certain specialties. So, in a given hospital, Med/Surg nurses from ABC Healthcare Staffing Agency may be making $36/hour, while Telemetry nurses from the same firm may be making $42/hour.

2. Specialized rates

Specialized rates are reserved for those specialties that a hospital considers more in-demand or requiring more skill, such as L&D, ER, ICU, PICU, and NICU.They are the cream-of-the-standardized-rate crop. On average, specialized rates run anywhere from $2 to $8 more per hour than standard rates.

3. Negotiated rates

Though less common than the previous rates, you may encounter negotiated rates if you possess rare, desirable skills or a great degree of experience. Hospitals will sometimes negotiate with staffing agencies when they are pursuing highly skilled nurses. These rates are generally higher than standard and even specialized rates and present a travel nurse with the opportunity to secure a more ideal salary package.

4. Overtime rates

As you know, overtime rates are the hourly pay for time worked in excess of your given contract. So, if your gig is 40 hours per week, any time you work in excess of that will be compensated at a higher-than-standard rate. Most agencies pay at least time-and-a-half for overtime, and some will pay more to make overtime work more attractive.

Pay close attention, though, to the intricacies of your contract and determine what kind of overtime requirements and pay best suit you and the way you work. Some hospitals may require overtime or may have overtime pay embedded into the overall contract.

5. Holiday rates

Many hospitals offer special rates for travel nurses who chose to work over major holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holiday rates are generally equal to an agency’s overtime rate. Keep in mind that the definition of “major holiday” can vary by region. If you enjoy working on holidays or relish the extra income such work provides, pay close attention to what holidays a given hospital or agency observes.

6. On-call rates

On-call rates are the pay you receive for being at-the-ready to fill in. Generally, on-call rates are a fraction of standard rates (anywhere from $2 to $15 per hour). Think of on-call rates like a wait staff’s pay. The payoff comes less in the hourly rate than in the tips they can make. For travel nurses, the big tips come in the form of call-back rates.

7. Call-back rates

What you’re paid if you need to head into the hospital to respond to a call is determined by your call-back rates. They can be some of the highest hourly rates a typical travel nurse will see — at least time-and-a-half and sometimes double the standard rate. This benefit, though, can be impacted if call-back hours are not “extra” hours — for example, if you were short of your contract hours in a given week.

8. Crisis rates

Crisis rates are the rates that hospitals will pay during a staffing crisis. This is when rates can really soar — crisis rates can be $10 to $15/hour above standard pay. Staffing strikes, unanticipated patient influxes, and unusual turnover can all put a hospital in a staffing crisis.

There you have it — 8 types of pay rates that may affect your bottom line as a travel nurse.

Looking for more on travel nursing finances? Check out our blog on the hidden costs of travel nursing.

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