When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, travel nurses were in extremely high demand. Now that we have entered 2023, this travel nursing boom is starting to fade a bit. But what does this mean for travel nursing wages as we move out of a global pandemic?
What Are Travel Nursing Payrate Predictions for 2023?
While the healthcare labor market remains a bit unstable, it seems that the demand for travel nurses has decreased a bit. However, wages still remain strong. This could be due to the fact that where there are shortages, the need is still great—even if these shortages aren’t as widespread as they were two or three years ago.
Even though the industry is still seeing some medical staff shortages, it seems that contract labor demand is down. Wages have remained consistent for both contract and permanent positions. Some experts are expecting that these wages will start to come back to normal, while others believe that these higher wages may be here to stay—in part due to the fact that there will always be a need for skilled healthcare workers.
In May 2021, the median annual wage for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations was $75,040, nearly 64% higher than the median annual wage for all other occupations.
4 Factors That Will Affect Travel Nursing Pay Rates in 2023
Travel nursing pay is typically determined by many things, so it can be hard to accurately predict future outcomes. After a year where many travel nurses were seeing weekly paychecks of up to $6,000, it appears that things may be changing, but not too much. Here are a few of the major factors that will impact the pay of travel nurses in 2023.
- End of the Pandemic
While we aren’t quite in the clear yet, the world is trending back to normal. There are much fewer COVID hospitalizations than there were a year ago, decreasing the demand for extra hands at hospitals and healthcare facilities.
However, just because COVID cases are down doesn’t mean that there are enough nurses to support all departments in every healthcare facility. In fact, we are far from that being a reality. As COVID becomes less of a concern, hospitals will be looking for nursing staff to help fill in other roles in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
- Lower Nursing Demand
As previously mentioned, the demand for nurses in the field has gone down a bit. While there is still a higher demand for nursing staff than in many other industries, the rampant need that existed when COVID was widespread is gone. This means there will be fewer jobs than in the past two years, and when demand is down, the pay rates follow.
For some context, in early 2020, there were around 8,000 open travel nursing positions. By the time September 2021 arrived, there were over 48,000 positions. Today, that number is sitting around 32,000. So, while demand has dipped since the height of the pandemic, demand is still above pre-pandemic levels. Nursing shortages still exist across all sectors of nursing—including faculty in nursing schools.
Nursing schools have had to turn away over 90,000 applicants due to a lack of qualified teachers. For this reason, market saturation is highly unlikely in the travel nursing industry for years to come.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth in the nursing field is six percent in the next ten years, meaning that there is a need for 200,000 new nurses across the country.
- State-by-State Payrate Trends
Each state has always paid travel nurses differently—in fact, it goes even narrower than the state level. However, we are still seeing some states paying higher wages into 2023, while others are dropping rates more quickly.
The current national average pay for travel nurses remains near $3,000 per week. The states paying the highest rates include California, Alaska, New Jersey, Oregon, and Minnesota. Arizona, Florida, and Georgia have reported major decreases in travel nursing pay. Florida, for example, has seen a 40.9 percent decrease in travel nursing pay.
- Healthcare Industry Specialty
One of the largest factors for pay in the travel nursing sector in 2023 is specialty. Nurses who specialize in critical care, ICU, ER, labor and delivery, OR, and other high-need specialties are more likely to make more money.
These high-demand specialties pay more to incentivize nurses to continue working in these high-stress areas. If you have experience in these specialties, putting your experience on your resume and seeking out similar positions can benefit you financially.
How to Navigate Travel Nursing Payrate Changes in 2023
Overall, it is important to remember that pay rates are still relatively high for travel nurses in 2023. It is very unlikely that travel nurses will see pre-2020 pay rates anytime soon. For those nurses looking for the largest paychecks, consider looking for an assignment in one of the states we listed above with higher-than-average rates.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice everything else you are looking for in a contract for a higher payday. Try to balance all your needs—including the payrate you are looking for—to find a position that you will be happy in. This means that you will want to think about locations you would be happy traveling to, facilities you are interested in, and roles that would suit you best.
With these higher pay rates, we’ve noticed that some nurses are taking extended time off throughout the year to avoid burnout and have a better work-life balance. Avoiding burnout is essential in keeping nurses in the field, so at OneStaff, we recommend taking any needed time off to relax and regroup.
For those who are hoping to cash in on higher pay in 2023, talk to one of OneStaff’s recruiters. They can help you find those higher-paying assignments that allow you to make the money you are looking for this year. Although each travel nurse has different needs, our staff is here to help make the right placements.
If you are looking for a new travel nursing assignment, contact OneStaff Medical today at 877-783-1483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our dedicated recruiting team is here to help you find an assignment that meets your needs.