What Is Travel Nursing?

If you’ve been working as a nurse for any period of time, you’re likely aware of the current nursing shortage in the United States.

When hospitals and health care organizations have temporary openings -- from maternity leave, for example -- they are looking to fill that void. That’s where you come in.

what is travel nursing - surgeryThere are opportunities from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii and everywhere in-between. There are even some fantastic options internationally.

We cover two types of travel nursing here: 

  1. US-based, for nurses who are US citizens or have a green card and who want to work in a different US state. This site does not cater to non-US nurses who want to work in the USA.
  2. International nursing jobs for citizens of all countries who wish to relocate internationally anywhere but in the USA.

US-based travel nurses take assignments that usually last anywhere from 4-26 weeks, with the majority being 13 weeks long. Many times, when an assignment is completed, you can extend it. This is perfect if you want just a little more time in your exciting location.

These nursing professions are the most in demand

Although most travel nurses are RNs, there are jobs available for LPNs and NPs as well.  

  • case management
  • cath lab
  • critical care
  • dialysis
  • ER
  • ICU
  • labor and delivery
  • med surg
  • neonatal
  • obstetrics
  • oncology
  • OR
  • orthopedics
  • PACU
  • psychiatric
  • step-down

But remember: because there’s a general nursing shortage, don’t be afraid to apply if you don’t have one of those specialities.

Why consider a travel nursing career?

Most travel nurses - US or international - love the lifestyle and agree there are many benefits to a career in travel nursing. One of the major ones is travel.

One of the biggest reasons to become a travel nurse is right in the name -- travel. If you feel stuck in your current position and would like to get out and see the country (or the world!), travel nursing can provide you with a steady paycheck and great benefits while you spend your free time meeting new people and exploring new places.

You might even find a “new home” after your assignment in a different state. Maybe you thought you’d never like the California sun, only to discover you love living walking distance from the beach.

Professionally, travel nursing provides you will great experience for your resume and contacts at hospitals all over the country. If you decide to settle down somewhere, you’ll have the experience, new skills, and connections you need to find a long-term position.

And financially, travel nursing can pad your bank account. Because you are taking the leap and moving, some agencies offer rental cars, free housing, and reimbursement for travel costs. Check with agencies to find out if you’ll get 401K benefits, and even free health insurance. Many agencies provide free CEUs, too, which means you can keep learning at no cost to yourself. As far as hourly pay, you can expect somewhere around $30 to $50/hour, depending on your location and experience.

Don’t get too bogged down by hourly rates however. Be sure ask for specifics about your benefits, and calculate what those are worth in dollars. A $30/hour position with free housing, travel reimbursement, free health insurance, etc. can be far better than a $50/hour position with fewer or no benefits.

Also, ask to have guaranteed hours specified in your contract, that way you can budget and make an informed decision.

Follow these steps to become a travel nurse

Convinced that you want to be a travel nurse? Still want to know more? Here’s the step by step process of how to go from curious to employed.

  1. Graduate high school or get a GED. You won’t get into nursing school without them!

  2. Get a degree from an accredited university. In order to work as a nurse, you need a higher education diploma.

  3. Pass your NCLEX examination. You cannot become a licensed registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in the United States without passing The National Council Licensure Examination.

  4. Get at least 1 year of clinical experience, but 2-3 years of experience will make you more attractive to potential employers.

  5. Consider getting a license in a Compact State. There are 25 states that will recognize your licensure if you get it from one of those 25 locations. Instead of needing to get licensed by the state you’ll be travelling to, you’ll already have the requisite license!

  6. Decide where you want to go, what you want to do, and what benefits you are looking for. This will help you explain your exact needs to your recruiter to find your ideal job.

  7. Apply with us. We will get you in touch with recruiters from top-notch travel agencies who can streamline your process to finding a job.

  8. Choose a travel agency to work with, tell them what you are looking for, and provide them with all your paperwork, licenses, and a stellar resume.

  9. Compare the job opportunities provided by your agency.

  10. Rock your interview. 

  11. Negotiate and sign a contract.

  12. Start working!

>> What Is Travel Nursing