A perfect blend of work and travel!

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 healthcare organizations have temporary openings — from maternity leave, for example — they are looking to fill that void. That’s where you come in.

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 done, you can extend it. This is perfect if you want just a little more time in your exciting location.

Keep in mind that these assignments are US-based in one of the 50 states. Although “travel nursing” might sound like “travel the world nursing,” it’s actually a whole different animal than “international nursing.”

On this page, you’ll find all the details about how to become a US travel nurse. If you are a US citizen wanting to nurse abroad, you can go directly to our International Nursing page for more details.

Which nurses are the most sought-after?

Although most travel nurses are RNs, there are jobs available for LPNs and NPs as well. What are the most sought-after types of nurses? Check out the list below. But remember: Because there’s a general nursing shortage, don’t be afraid to jump in even if you don’t have one of those specialties! 

  • Neonatal
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • OR
  • Orthopedics
  • PACU
  • Psychiatric
  • Step-down
  • Case management
  • Cath lab
  • Critical care
  • Dialysis
  • ER
  • ICU
  • Labor and delivery
  • Med surg

Why should you consider travel nursing?


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.


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. Learn more about travel nursing salaries here

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.

Convinced that you want to be a travel nurse? Still want to know more? Here’s a brief look at how to go from curious to employed. Want more details? Check out “How To Become A Travel Nurse.”

  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. Decide whether or not travel nursing is right for you
  6. Consider getting a license in a Compact State. There are 24 states that will recognize your licensure if you get it from one of those 24 locations. Instead of needing to get licensed by the state you’ll be travelling to, you’ll already have the requisite license!
  7. Decide where you want to go, what you want to do, and what benefits you are looking for. This will help you explain to your recruiter exactly what you are looking for so you get a job specially designed to fit your needs.
  8. Check out our “Ultimate List of Travel Nursing Agencies” ebook: A detailed, 50-page ebook filled with paragraph-long entries for more than 150 US-based travel nursing agencies. This will help you decide which agencies you want to contact. 
  9. 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 (check out our Resume Guide here). 
  10. Compare the job opportunities your agency provides you with.
  11. Rock your interview
  12. Negotiate and sign a contract.
  13. Buy some gear.
  14. Start working!

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