Money can be a sticky subject to discuss with an employer, and adding the element of travel can make it even more difficult. You want to make sure you’re getting the most money you can, while not asking for unrealistic packages. Let us help educate you on the financial piece of the travel nursing world. Our tips will help equip you with the keys needed to rock your next travel nursing assignment negotiation.
Be flexible on assignment decisions
If you want an eight-week assignment in Florida making $3,000 a week, you’re more than likely not going to be able to get that exact arrangement, for several reasons. First of all, travel nurses must be flexible in their wants and needs. If an agency does not have an assignment available in Florida for your specialty, they may ask you why you want to travel there. They may suggest another warm location that better meets your schedule and monetary needs.
Keep in mind that standard assignments are 13 weeks long, and there are a variety of customizable compensation packages. It is very hard for nurses to find their absolute perfect travel scenario, but good agencies will do their best to make sure you’re as content as possible with your assignment.
Always negotiate overtime rates
Depending on the agency, your hourly rate can be negotiated to some extent. But, be sure to always negotiate your overtime pay. After 40 hours worked, you will earn the standard time-and-a-half pay for any additional hours. But, have a conversation with your agency around double- or triple-time pay.
When negotiating your contract, request more than the standard time-and-a-half. It makes sense financially for both the nurse and the agency to have great overtime pay packages, so be sure to speak up.
Understand that the agency needs to make a profit
A good agency will go the extra mile to make sure that you are satisfied with your compensation package. But keep in mind, that at the end of the day, the agency needs to make money, too.
Nurses do indeed get the majority of the hospital’s bill rate, but the agency does take some off the top. In addition to paying you, there are other expenses that come out of the bill rate like insurance, worker’s compensation, compliance review, and federal/state taxes Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want money-wise, but understand that even the best agencies cannot give each nurse exactly what they request.
Use caution when seeing ads
If a travel nursing ad you see online or in a Facebook group sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use caution when reading job postings as many companies use deceitful ways to make their pay rates seem higher than they really are.
For example, no hospital or medical facility will ever commit to having a nurse work overtime every week. A travel nurse agency may advertise that you can take home “up to X amount a week,” but that is true if the nurse is guaranteed a certain amount of overtime each week, every week, which is very unlikely. All nurses should ask if the take-home pay is based on 36 or 48 hours a week and if it is guaranteed. The key word here is “guaranteed.” Sure, a nurse can work 60 hours a week and rack in overtime pay, but it is not a sure thing every week. Be wary of companies who advertise very high rates without detailed hour breakdowns.
Research accountable plans
Most companies use an accountable plan for dealing with MLA (Meal and Lodging Allowances). An accountable plan is an employee reimbursement allowance arrangement, or a method for reimbursing nurses for work expenses that complies with IRS regulations.
So, agencies will estimate your expenses and add that cost to your paycheck for MLA. With accountable plans, there is no need to submit receipts or return unused portions. Understanding how MLA and accountable plans work will give you a leg up when it comes to negotiating your package. Read more on the IRS website.
Think of it like a pie
When you’re deciphering your specific wants and needs for your next assignment, think of a round pie. If your take-home pay is very important to you, have that make up 50% of the pie. If location is not a huge deal, make that a 20% slice of the pie. If you want a good completion bonus, maybe that takes up 30%.
When it comes to your pie, good agencies can customize each slice. If you want more money for one slice, they can move more money from another to help slices that are most important to you.
Hungry to get started on your next assignment yet? We hope our negotiation tips help you when it comes time to making the most (financially and personally) out of your next travel nursing adventure.