How to Confidently Sign Your First Travel Nurse Contract | VIDEO!

How to Confidently Sign Your First Travel Nurse Contract | VIDEO!

Congratulations! You’ve landed your first travel nurse contract. All you have to do is sign the dotted line and you are on your way to your first assignment!


Before you sign yourself over to the glamorous world of travel, make sure you are signing a contract that is accurate, fair and provides you with the best pay possible.

A Breakdown of What Info You’ll Find in a Travel Nurse Contract

First, it’s important to understand what information is included in your travel nurse contract. You’ll find the basic information you need about your travel assignment, like the start and end date, where you’ll be working and in what unit. You’ll also see things like your shift hours. If you discussed any time off with your recruiter or hiring manager, that should also be noted in your contract. Make sure you read over the cancelation policy so you know exactly what rights you and the hospital have when it comes to canceling the contract, should anything unexpected happen. Also, what happens if you get sick or something? Penalties for missing a shift or work hours and how to handle that situation will be in there as well.


This contract can’t be altered once you sign it. If there is anything on your contract that you’re unsure about, don’t sign it until you get clarity from your recruiter. If there’s anything you discussed with your recruiter or hiring manager that you don’t see listed on your contract, don’t sign it. Make sure that anything you agreed upon verbally is outlined in this document.

Here’s a video that breaks down understanding your travel nurse contract!

Making Cents Out of The Complicated Pay for Travel Nurses

Now, let’s talk about the most important part of your travel nurse contract – the salary. You’re seeing words on your contract like base salary, stipends, and bill rate. How much money actually goes to you? Breaking down the salary for travel nurses is complicated.

Basically, the top four most important things that you need to know about the salary portion of your contract are:

Bill Rate

The bill rate is the total amount of money that the hospital is willing to pay for a travel nurse. The hospital pays that money to the agency, who then takes a portion for themselves and gives the rest to you. The portion that they give to you is your hourly rate. This is the taxable money you earn as a travel nurse.


Stipends are tax-free money you receive to cover any expense that you’re subjected to because you are traveling. For example, you receive money for housing, food, and transportation tax-free because you are working too far to travel to home and back in one day. Stipends are what really allow you to make extra money by being a travel nurse.

Hourly Rate

Your hourly base salary should range somewhere between $18 and $24. Although some contracts will break down your pay so that your base salary is less and your stipends are more, you want to make sure that your base salary, or your taxable income, is realistic. For example, a nurse would not typically make $10 per hour, so you definitely shouldn’t be agreeing to that pay despite the additional stipends you’re receiving. When you go to file your taxes, you don’t want the IRS to have any reason to suspect that you are lying about your pay.

Online Rate Calculator

  1. There’s a rate calculator available from the U.S. government that allows you to double-check what type of stipends you can expect depending on where you’re traveling to.

We know this is a lot to understand, but DON’T PANIC. Remember, your recruiter is your lifeline and you should have them talk you through your contract. Don’t be afraid to have them do this as many times as it takes for you to confidently sign your travel nurse contract!

Check out our YouTube page for more video resources on travel nursing!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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