Working with 2 travel companies

I need help!!! I am new to travel nursing and was told I whoops work with 2 companies. Well they both say things that contradict the other. One when I asked about re-imburesment for traveling, licenses and such said they would, but it would all come out of my pay package so I would still in reality be paying for it and said all companies do that and if they say they don't they are lying. Well the other company said they do re-imburse and it doesn't come out of your pay package. I need some insight on this from an experienced travel nurse please!!!


  • edited September 2016
    Travel nursing pay packages can be confusing, especially when different companies pitch them in different ways. To simplify a little, let's imagine that you are the only employee for the staffing company and they work with many different hospitals with many different job openings. Each job has different parameters, like start dates, shifts, etc. For our discussion, the parameter we're concerned with is the "bill rate".

    The bill rate is the hourly rate that the agency is able to charge for your time at the hospital. Different jobs have different bill rates. For example, the bill rate for one job might be $65 per hour and the bill rate for another might be $72 per hour. So, for every hour you work at the hospital, the agency bills the hospital $65...or $72.

    The bill rate is the travel nursing company's only source of money. So, everything they provide comes out of it...the cost of your travel expenses, licenses, your pay package, all of their expenses....everything. Again, it's their only source of money.

    Now, different agencies handle their finances in different ways, which is why you received two different explanations. Many agencies track every expense for every travel nursing contract in an effort to maximize the compensation package for their nurses. For example, if you need a license reimbursement, they will apply the cost to their calculations when determining how much they have to pay. So, if you don't need a license reimbursement, then the cost isn't applied to their calculation which would leave more money for them to pay you.

    This is how the company of the first recruiter you spoke with works. For them, additional expenses mean less money for pay and fewer expenses mean more money for pay. I'd have to say that this is the way most agencies work. That's because it's an accurate approach to managing their finances and ensuring that their pay packages are competitive.

    However, there are some agencies that operate differently. For example, they might set aside a standard amount of money in every single contract to pay for expenses like travel, licenses, etc. If you require more than they have set aside, then too bad for them....your pay won't be affected and they make less money because they incurred more expenses than they had set aside. But, if you require less than they had set aside, then they make more and you have left some on the table in essence. In the end, they just hope it all works out as a wash for them.

    If you're working for a company that says these expenses don't affect your pay, then it behooves you to take advantage of every possible expense they're willing to cover. Otherwise, you may be leaving money on the table.

    In my view, the first recruiter is closer to being right. I don't agree that other agencies are lying when they say otherwise though. They just don't know any better and in some cases, the costs don't come out of the pay as described above. In the end, it all comes down to evaluating each pay package on its own merits by determining the value of every compensation variable you're going to receive. We have a video discussing how to do this here :

    I hope this helps!!
  • That was extremely helpful!!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question!
  • This is very helpful for a first time traveler!!
  • What is a good base pay for an ED nurse with17 years experience what would the itemize look like...Could someone do the pie...For me so I have an idea of beginnings....Or averages....
  • Hey Julie,

    I'd be more than happy to give you a general idea. Obviously location can play quite drastic role when it comes to bill rate. As you can imagine the pay in California is quite a bit higher than say Missouri. I'll use the numbers $65 and $72 like Kyle Schmidt mentioned above. Again these may vary slightly from agency to agency but I figured I'd give you a general idea. For this I figured 3x12hr shifts for 13 weeks - Typically in a contract your taxable rate would be $20/hr. The numbers below would be an example of the pie. If you have additional expenses like insurance, travel reimbursement, or housing included those numbers typically decrease your weekly gross.

    Estimate for $65 Rate
    36hrs week x $20/hr = $720
    Weekly Tax Free = $725
    Total - $1445 weekly gross

    Estimate for $72
    36hrs week x $20/hr = $720
    Weekly Tax Free = $900
    Total - $1620 weekly gross

    Hope that helps a little bit!
  • Where are the recruiters getting the tax free rates from, They vary from Company to Company and in different areas.
  • Hey Tina,

    That rates can vary from agency to agency if the bill rate is not high enough to max out the tax free stipend. Below is the site to see what the maximum tax free rates are in each location. If the bill rate isn't high enough in an area to max our the stipend some agencies may offer more but in return they will have a lower margin. Some agencies out there will always max out the stipend but in return they lower your taxed hourly rate. Unfortunately, I have heard of some RNs having a taxed rate in the $12-$15/hr range. I always recommend keeping your taxed rate at $20/hr to protect you from being audited. This also helps you out when you are trying to apply for a loan since most lenders will look at your hourly rate and not consider the tax free money you are receiving.

    Hope this helps!
  • My advice is to be cautious around recruiters who use terms like "lying." Lkie Kyle has said earlier, the pay bill rate is a pie that all expenses (including the agencies expenses and profits) come from. There ARE differences in what an agency is willing to retain for their margins. I know it is confusing....but what Kyle said is correct. You have to look at the contract you are offered and assess whether it is a fit for you. Pay is not the only reason (usually) to take a particular job. I happen to work with multiple agencies for any given nurse. Some are willing to take lesser margins than others which frees up more money to give to the nurse. Hope I did not go on too long. Find yourself an honest, ethical recruiter and you will do fine.

    The more agencies you work the best opportunities you will have.

    Saul Arias
    Traveling Nurse Staffing
    Bestaff / USA Staffing Services
    p: 866-988-2378 m: 480 206 1792
    f: 520-731-9399
    a: 5333 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85014
    w: e:
  • On the "per diem " rate table linked above, what do those rates in each city include? Does that rate include housing, food and car? Or just food and incidentals?
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