7 Questions to Ask About Your Travel Nurse Pay Package
Everybody loves money, but many people are afraid to talk about it. It’s time to put that fear aside and have a serious talk with your recruiter about compensation. Here are 7 things you need to ask about your travel nurse pay package.
1. How much will I make on a weekly basis?
Many agencies will quote you per assignment rates, but that information can often be misleading. For example, if a per-assignment rate includes a completion bonus, it can give you an inaccurate idea of how much you’ll be taking home regularly.
Be sure to have your recruiter break down the pay package in the manner that is most meaningful to you. Often, a weekly rate will give you a very clear idea of what you can expect your bank balance to be throughout your next assignment.
2. How much of my income will tax-free?
Be clear how much of your take-home pay will be tax-free. You don’t want to be in the dark about this, especially come tax season. And when your recruiter tells you how much is tax-free, be sure to ask if any of that income is earmarked as your housing or travel stipends. This will help you get a better picture of how a pay package will meet your needs.
3. What do I need to do to make sure I qualify for the tax-free income?
It’s important to remember that not everyone is eligible for the tax-free aspect of the travel nursing pay package. And, without it, traveling might not be financially attractive to you.
The IRS requires that you be a temporary worker and also hold a permanent tax home. Being a temporary worker means that you are not working more than 12 months in any one place. To claim and hold a tax home, two of the following three things need to happen:
- You make a large portion of your income in the place you are claiming as your tax home.
- You have a permanent residence in this tax home where you pay a mortgage or rent.
- You cannot abandon this home.
Have your agent explain all the intricacies of the travel nursing tax rules and help you to stay on track to maintain your tax-free income status.
4. What bonuses are included? What are the stipulations of those bonuses?
It never hurts to ask how to earn bonuses, and some of them may already be part of your compensation package. There may be signing, completion, or referral bonuses. Each of these will have different qualifications and tax structures. Bonus income is taxed — likely at a higher rate than your regular wages. Ask your recruiter to give you the complete breakdown.
5. Are medical benefits part of the package?
Strong agencies know how important it is to maintain consistent healthcare no matter where your assignments may take you. So, if agency insurance is an option, ask questions about the extent, duration, and terms of your coverage. Clarify whether they provide full coverage or just reimburse you for finding a plan on your own. Your recruiter will likely be in the know about the most attractive options out there and can help you find the solution that best suits your needs.
6. What about IRAs or other retirement funds?
As a travel nurse, you are considered a temporary worker in many ways. But a good agency has your long-term financial health in mind and will help you provide for your future. Inquire into retirement funds and shop around if your current agency doesn’t provide one. If you end up having multiple accounts from all of your traveling, there are a few ways to manage them, including cashing them out or transferring them into new or existing retirement accounts.
7. I found another agency that’s offering me more pay for the same position. Can you match their offer?
As a travel nurse, you know that it’s important to look out for yourself and to partner with an agency who has your back. This question helps you do both. When you have a good team on your side, they will help you find the best option for you. This often includes matching other agency offers or negotiating with a hospital to get you a rate commensurate with your unique experience. This will help you make sure you are always getting paid what you are worth.
Want more info on travel nurse salary? Check out some of our travel nurse pay packages.