Best States for Travel Nurses

by Lindsay Wilcox

Best states for travel nursesYou’ve probably seen articles that rank the best states for nurses each year, including WalletHub’s latest list — topped by Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, Arizona and New Mexico — but naming the best states for travel nurses is more complex and depends on a number of factors.

Here are some criteria to consider when determining your next travel nursing assignment location.

Compact licenses

The easiest way to work as a travel nurse is holding a compact license, which allows you to live in one state and work in other states that have agreed to recognize that license. The following are compact states:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

If you keep a permanent residence in one of these states, you can take a travel nursing assignment in one of the other compact states without applying for another state license — which may be incentive enough to try travel nursing.

Walk-through states

Want to get to work as soon as possible? Selecting an assignment in a walk-through state, which extends a temporary nursing license within 24-72 hours, allows you to begin your assignment without waiting weeks for your license to be issued.

24-hour states

  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Vermont

Arizona grants temporary licenses within 48 hours. Additionally, it takes just 48-72 hours to receive a temporary license in Washington, D.C.

States without income tax

To get the most bang for their buck, some travel nurses accept assignments in states that don’t collect income tax:

While you will not be required to pay income tax on the money you earned on assignments in one of these states, you will still pay federal income tax on all income earned. If you’re considering working in a state without income tax to put more of your paycheck in your pocket, consider the cost of living in the area where you plan to work. You may be able to find a location where you can rent an inexpensive apartment, go sightseeing on your days off and still put away the majority of your paycheck.

The best states for travel nurses depend on your personal preferences for location, salary and proximity to family and friends, but these criteria may help you narrow down the area that fits best for your next travel nurse assignment.

About Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a healthcare writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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