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How to Get a Job as a Travel Nurse (And How It Works)

6 min read

By Chelsea Dolan

  • Travel nursing is a high-paying career path with lots of opportunities.
  • This job gives you a chance to work in multiple medical settings throughout the year.
  • Travel nurses can be sent to new cities and states to fulfill nursing demands.

If you ever wanted to work in the medical field without sacrificing travel opportunities, why not consider travel nursing? This job provides you with the best of both worlds. With the right training, you could enter the job market quickly and start making a generous salary. There’s some important information to know about travel nursing if it’s something you’re interested in. From education to salaries to job demand, you can learn more by searching online.

There are certain requirements you’ll need to meet in order to become a travel nurse. Search online to find out how to get started in this industry.

Here’s how to get a job as a travel nurse…

What Is a Travel Nurse?

There are nearly 1.7 million people in the U.S. working as travel nurses. This job requires nurses to work in non-permanent or temporary nursing roles in different places. These stints can range from 4- to 26-weeks depending on the facility and its needs.

Rather than being employed by a single facility, travel nurses are typically hired by an independent nursing staffing agency. They assign you to work in medical cities where there is demand. This means you could end up working in a new city, state, or even country multiple times per year.

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Travel Nurse Responsibilities

Travel nurses carry the same responsibilities as nurses working in traditional settings. The main difference is they are assigned to different medical settings throughout the year rather than working in one place. You could end up working in a variety of places such as hospitals, emergency rooms, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and more.

As a travel nurse, LeaderStat says you can expect to perform duties such as:

  • Administer medications, vaccines, and other forms of care to patients.
  • Communicate with physicians and other healthcare professionals;
  • Create patient care plans;
  • Contribute to medical records;
  • Address patient questions and concerns, and;
  • Track supplies and inventories.
Ann Kosolapova / Shutterstock

Types of Travel Nurses

Nursing is a diverse field with unique opportunities. You’re able to train for specific medical settings and skill sets that will set you apart from nurses with less education. This could also open the door to more job opportunities.

Some types of nursing specialties to consider include:

  • Surgical nursing;
  • Emergency room nursing;
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nursing;
  • Intensive Care Unit nursing;
  • Operating room nursing;
  • Cardiovascular Operating Room nursing;
  • Long-term care nursing, and;
  • Psychiatric mental health nursing.
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Becoming a Travel Nurse

Most travel nurse agencies will require you to have at least 1-year of experience as a working nurse. Before you can even work as a nurse, you’ll need to get the proper education. It can take anywhere from 2- to 4-years to become a nurse depending on your schedule, the type of nurse you want to become, and the level of education you wish to complete.

Travel nursing agencies may have extra requirements from nurses. Here’s a breakdown of the steps you’ll have to take.

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1. Get a BSN Degree

To become a registered nurse, you will have to obtain at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Nurse Journal says most travel nursing staffing agencies will require you to have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. This usually takes about 4-years, but those who already have an ADN could complete an RN-to-BSN program in less time.

Some common requirements for applying to a BSN program are:

  • High school or college transcripts;
  • SAT or ACT scores;
  • A CV or resume, and;
  • A GPA of at least 2.5 or 3.0.
TierneyMJ / Shutterstock

2. Pass the NCLEX Exam

Once you’ve completed your degree, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN). It’s a six-hour test that covers the following topics:

  • Nursing practice;
  • Conditions and treatments;
  • Healthcare system;
  • Legal and ethical issues, and;
  • Patient communication.

Your nursing license can be valid in other states, as long as it participates in the Nurse Licensure Compact. Nurse Journal says you may have to apply for licensure in multiple states if it has different requirements.

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3. Gain Nursing Experience

After going through the formalities of education and passing the necessary exams, you can start working as a nurse. You won’t necessarily be able to be a travel nurse right away. Most agencies want you to have some experience under your belt, a minimum of 1-year.

Nurses who work in specialties such as labor and delivery may require more time before you’re hired. Once you’ve gained enough experience, you can then start applying to agencies that hire travel nurses.

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How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

According to U.S. News, registered nurses in the U.S. make a median salary of $75,330. But travel nurses have the opportunity to make six figures per year. Nursing Process reports that travel nurse practitioners make an average salary of $165,420 per year. This equates to over $3,000 per week.

Salaries will vary depending on the type of nurse you are and the agency you’re hired at. Overall, travel nurses have the opportunity to make significantly more money compared to RNs who are employed staff members at one medical facility.

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Demand for Travel Nurses

Part of the reason why travel nurses make a higher income is because they accept assignments in high-need areas. Due to the shortage, medical facilities are willing to pay good money to fulfill that need.

These assignments could take place in rural areas where there are fewer nurses or somewhere where nurses with certain specialties can be harder to find. This makes it a great option for professionals looking to make the most money with their nursing degrees.

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Benefits of Travel Nursing

Not only are travel nurses able to earn a high income, but they’re also eligible for stipends and bonuses. explains how pay packages include more than just your salary. Travel nurses can receive non-taxed stipends that can be used towards housing, meals, travel reimbursements, and other necessary expenses.

Thanks to the stipends, nurses can save money on renting a place to stay. The lower cost of living in addition to the high-paying job is a worthwhile financial perk to consider.

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Other Benefits of Travel Nursing

Besides great pay, travel nursing comes with plenty of other benefits. You can travel across the country and potentially discover a city you’d want to settle down in someday. Nurses can also choose to take breaks between assignments and avoid burnout. This scheduling freedom helps ensure you can create a work-life balance that is manageable.

Some additional benefits include:

  • Flexibility on when to work;
  • Avoid hospital politics;
  • Networking with professionals across the country;
  • Lower cost of living;
  • Make new friends and develop new interests, and;
  • Opportunity to travel to new places.
pics five / Shutterstock

Learn More About Travel Nursing Online

Travel nursing can be a fulfilling and exciting career for those looking to enter the medical field. You’ll get to make high living wages, travel around the country, and expand your professional network. This career also comes with nice-to-have benefits that traditional nursing positions don’t offer.

To get started, you’ll have to obtain the proper education and training. Search online to find nursing programs in your area. Once you’ve passed all the necessary testing, you can start applying to travel nurse agencies and kickstart your career.

Hananeko_Studio / Shutterstock

Chelsea Dolan


Chelsea is an experienced writer with a passion for living a healthy life. She does her best at balancing her sugar addiction by going to the gym, parking far away from store entrances, and standing at her work desk from time to time.



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