How To Negotiate Your Next Travel Nurse Contract

Rick Martinez

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Right now, the travel nurse market is hot. As a travel nurse, you can negotiate your compensation and pay in some of the most creative ways possible.

Because they are the new "go-to" in finding top nursing talent, your agency may also be able to assist you with more money on your next travel nurse contract.

After all, an organization wants to make sure it's bringing qualified and happy nurses to the table so that both hospitals and RNs are ready to rock and roll. In a nutshell, everyone benefits when you understand your value as a travel nurse and are paid appropriately.

Here are some negotiating strategies to help you when taking on a travel nurse assignment.

Know Your True Value as a Nurse

To begin with, it's critical to establish your worth as a travel nurse.

But first things first. You may need some experience under your belt to understand how various agencies and recruiters operate, as well as the structure of pay contracts and the types of compensation available to you. Do you want a greater base wage with fewer perks? Or do you enjoy more comprehensive benefits?

Get to know the "terrain," if you will.

Most importantly, let your recruiter and agency know you're serious about a career in travel nursing so you can be sure they'll offer future work with a keen eye out for your desires.

Know What's Important To You

Most likely, each travel nurse has a distinct set of standards, needs, and wants that influence their choices regarding contracts and packages.

Dollar-for-hour comparison isn't everything, and it's okay if other compensation factors are more important to you. If obtaining particular expertise in exchange for a somewhat lesser salary makes sense for you, go for it! Or, you might choose to prioritize local work or want gigs in distant and cool locations you're eager to visit.

Know what matters most to you to target the assignments that will make the contract worthwhile and fun for you.

Do Your Homework

The travel nursing arena is also a super competitive area for recruiters. 

So do some research into what other agencies offer contracts to help guide you in accepting or negotiating a position. Suppose an agency is offering significantly more or less. In that case, you can use that as a bargaining tool to get the wages and compensation to make a contract more attractive to you.

Remember that at the end of the day, it's you who will be putting on scrubs to hit the ground running.

Speak with other travel nurses and research online job posts or even some nursing groups on Facebook. We nurses tend to talk and share a lot about what's worked and what's not worked. But more specifically, we share the good, the bad, and the ugly about companies, recruiters, and facilities that we've worked in. 

Spotlight Your Skills

You've likely developed a subset of skills and quals that make you better, so use them to your advantage!

Don't overthink this part. This could be as simple as having NRP, TNCC, or some other additional certification in specialty areas. These additional certs could and should mean extra dough for you.

Outside of a particular certification, specialized experience may also assist you in earning higher salaries. For instance, if you have a lot of COVID unit experience, this should give you greater negotiating power when taking on a project for a facility in need of COVID nurses.

While it may have been a lot of toil and sweat, all those hours hustling in the pandemic peak add up to a unique, new skillset.

If you don't have a specialty certification, consider getting one in your field or one that you'd be interested in pursuing in the future. 

Certifications may improve your CV and help you develop new abilities; they just take a little time to obtain. You can also inquire if there are any salary incentives available to pay for certification fees.

Leverage everything!

The Right Recruiter Matters More Than You Think

Recruiters are people just like you, and they generally want what's best for you and your career.

That being said, sometimes, we find and connect with the wrong one. Look, it's okay. It happens. It's not a show-stopper; it simply means that you may need to move on and find a recruiter you vibe with and that will work for what's best for you.

The good news is that once you've found a recruiter who gets along with you well, you may establish a trusting working relationship. Your recruiter can assist you in maximizing your pay.

If you're a traveling nurse with a good track record, excellent behavior, and the ability to learn new skills, your recruiter will want to continue working with you. A solid working relationship is beneficial to both of you. So, once you've established yourself, speak openly and honestly with your recruiter about how you can work together to ensure that you both walk away from a deal satisfied.

Make Your Requests As Specific As Possible

Taking a tough stance and demanding more money per hour isn't always the best path to take.

This is the time to think outside the proverbial "hours for dollars" box. This may be the moment to consider alternative ways to increase your take-home pay. Here's what I mean.

Consider an additional amount to your housing allowance. No, you don't need to spend it all on your housing, which means the overage can drop right into your bank account. Or how about a pet-sitter service while you work tons of hours on that crisis contract?

My point is to try and be creative in asking for more money and not be afraid to speak up!

You can request reimbursement for various other costs that you may not have considered, such as Uber credits, scrubs expenses, licensing fees, continuing education classes, moving services, or Internet and phone expenses. 

A recruiter will advocate on your behalf more effectively if you are clear about the resources you require.

The Final Word

Travel nursing can be lucrative, but it is essential to negotiate with recruiters to ensure that you make the most out of your contract. The best way to do this is by considering alternative ways to increase their take-home pay without increasing hours worked. 

We recommend asking about reimbursement for things like Uber credits or licensing fees if applicable. You should also consider requesting an increased housing allowance and speak up when negotiating!

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I'm a freelance writer and a nurse, exploring the world one beer, donut, and experience at a time. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare, with the occasional emphasis on donuts. #NomNom

San Antonio, TX
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