Considering a travel nursing assignment in California? You’re not alone. California is a popular destination for travel nurses for several reasons. The incredible weather and limitless things to do certainly contribute to California’s desirability, but it’s also a great state from a professional perspective. In fact, according to this study, California is the sixth best state for nurses in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the things you need to consider before travel nursing in California.

Choosing a Location: Southern California vs. Northern California

What you’re looking for out of your next assignment will play a major role in the area of California you’ll end up in. Is experiencing the California lifestyle what’s most important to you? Or is making the most money possible your biggest factor?

Travel Nursing in Southern California

If sunshine, the ocean, beaches, and the “California” lifestyle are what you’re looking for, then only Southern California will do. When considering travel nursing assignments in this area, San Diego and Los Angeles are the two major destinations, and each has its own pros and cons.

  • San Diego is the most in-demand destination for travel nurses in California due to the incredible weather, great beaches, and vibrant culture. San Diego’s disadvantages are that it’s more competitive, and pay is typically lower than other areas of the state.
  • Los Angeles is your destination if you’re looking for incredible nightlife and other social opportunities. It also has a major nursing shortage, which means that travel nurses are in high demand. Travel nursing pay in LA varies widely based on how badly nurses are needed. At times LA can be a high-paying destination. At others it will pay less than other cities in Northern California.

If you’re interested in Southern California, it’s important to understand that it isn’t the best place if you want to maximize your paycheck. Pay is generally lower than Northern California and the Central Valley, and living costs are also higher. On the contrary, you aren’t going to experience the weather and lifestyle that cities like San Diego and Los Angeles offer anywhere else.

Travel Nursing in Northern California

If putting more money in your pocket is your end goal, you might be more interested in an assignment in Northern California. From Central Valley to Sacramento, Northern California provides quality travel nursing opportunities, higher pay, and lower living costs.

  • Central Valley is where travel nurses can net the most pay. Areas like Bakersfield and Fresno are two of the top paying areas in the state for travel nurses. This area is also offers more affordable housing than most other destinations in California. That said, the majority of the Central Valley is agricultural and doesn’t offer the same amenities as other popular destinations in the state.
  • San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area are the exception to the more affordable housing and cost of living that Northern California is known for. That said, it has the same appeal as areas in SoCal because of its unmatched cultural vibe. San Francisco offers pay similar to other areas of Northern California, but is one of the most expensive areas to live in the state. Even with higher housing stipends available, most (if not all) of the stipend will be going to housing.
  • Sacramento provides the best of both worlds. Though it doesn’t have the same weather and lifestyle that Southern California or the Bay Area offer, it still has plenty to do and that quality city atmosphere nurses look for. Plus, it provides higher pay on average for travel nurses than LA or San Diego with lower costs.

Again, if pocketing more money is important to you, this is the area for you. In addition to higher average pay, Central Valley is also known for offering 48-hour work weeks, allowing nurses to earn more than they would with the more common 36-hour week.

Other Things to Know About Travel Nursing in California

Now that we’ve covered the popular areas for travel nurses in California, let’s look at some of the other important things nurses should know.

Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

California was the first state to establish nurse-to-patient ratios. Since then, many other states have followed California’s lead. According to a study by Health Services Research, California nurses care for one less patient on average than states without legislation and two less patients on average on medical and surgical units.

California Is the Highest Paying State for Nurses

According to Nurse Salary Guide, California is the highest paying state in the nation by $5 per hour and pays almost $13 higher than the national average. Of course, California’s higher cost of living has to be factored in, but if you choose one of the more affordable areas to live that are mentioned above, you can really benefit from California’s high pay rates.

Licensure by Endorsement

California is not a compact state, so you’ll need to obtain a licensure. California offers licensure by endorsement, which can be done online or by mail. The estimated time for completion is 10-12 weeks. With LRS Healthcare, you don’t have to worry about the cost of obtaining a state license. We offer licensure reimbursement!

If you’re interested in pursuing a travel nursing job in California, contact LRS Healthcare today. Our friendly recruiters will help you find an opportunity that meets your needs!