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How To Become A Travel Nurse

Thinking about mixing your love for nursing with the thrill of travel? If so, becoming a travel nurse might just be your calling. This unique career path in nursing allows you to work in different places, offering you the chance to see new sights while you provide critical care to a wide range of patients.

First, however, you’ll need a good understanding of what the job entails. To help, here’s a guide on taking your first steps into the world of travel nursing.

Starting Your Journey as a Travel Nurse

Before you can embark on this career that takes you places (literally), here’s what you need to do:

Get the right education and licensing

Your first step is to get a proper nursing degree, which could be either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It’s important to note that while an ADN might get you started, a BSN is often preferred and can open more opportunities for you.

Once you’ve got your degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Passing this test makes you a Registered Nurse (RN), which is necessary if you want to practice nursing.

Gain experience in the field

Before you can start traveling, you generally need at least one to two years of experience working in a hospital. If you focus on areas like emergency care, intensive care, or surgery, you’ll often be in a better position. This experience is crucial because it prepares you to handle different medical situations you might encounter while on the road.

Find a great staffing agency

A staffing agency that specializes in placing travel nurses will be a big help in your career. They find you jobs, help with travel arrangements, and may even sort out your accommodation. Choosing the right agency can make your life as a travel nurse much easier.

Continuing education

Staying updated through ongoing education and certifications is also crucial. This not only keeps your skills sharp but adds to your qualifications as well, making you more appealing for different job placements.

Types of Positions in Travel Nursing

Choosing a specialty can be very constructive in your future career as a travel nurse. Doing so helps you focus your skills and become more proficient in a specific area of nursing. Of course, travel nursing isn’t limited to one type of position or specialty.

A few types of general and specialized roles that travel nurses often fill include:

  • Med-Surg Nurse: A med-surg travel nurse provides care in medical-surgical settings, dealing with a wide range of conditions and treatments. Med-surg nursing is foundational and offers broad experiences that can be beneficial in numerous other specialties.
  • ER Nurse: Specializing in emergency room settings, these nurses deal with acute conditions and emergencies, requiring quick thinking and resilience.
  • Pediatric Nurse: These nurses specialize in caring for infants, children, and adolescents, managing everything from routine checkups to acute health issues in various settings.
  • ICU Nurse: Intensive care unit nurses care for the most critically ill patients, requiring advanced knowledge and skills in high-intensity treatment settings.
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse: These nurses assist during childbirth, providing care to both mothers and infants during one of the most critical times in a hospital setting.
  • Oncology Nurse: Focused on caring for cancer patients, these nurses require a deep understanding of oncology treatments and patient care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Nursing

What does a travel nurse do?

Travel nurses fill temporary positions in hospitals and clinics that are short-staffed. These jobs can last from a few weeks to several months and require nurses to quickly adapt to new places and ways of working.

How much does a travel nurse make?

Travel nurses often earn more than regular staff nurses. This is because they are paid premiums for their flexibility and the temporary nature of their jobs. Benefits such as housing allowances and travel reimbursements also add to their income.

What are the perks of the job?

Travel nursing lets you explore different parts of the country or even the world while working. You get to meet new people, learn different nursing practices, and grow your professional skills in ways you wouldn’t in a regular nursing job.

What challenges should I expect?

The biggest challenges include moving often and getting used to new work environments quickly. Being away from family and friends can also be tough as well as the uncertainty of where you’ll be heading off to next.

Advantages of Becoming a Travel Nurse

One of the biggest perks of being a travel nurse is the sheer variety of experiences and learning opportunities it offers. Every new assignment is a chance to see a new part of the world, work with different healthcare professionals, and manage diverse patient needs, which can significantly broaden your professional skills and personal horizons.

Additionally, travel nursing can be financially rewarding. The flexibility to choose where and when you work, coupled with benefits like housing allowances, often results in higher overall pay compared to traditional nursing roles.

Travel nursing also offers unmatched flexibility in terms of work-life balance. You can choose assignments that fit your lifestyle, allowing for time off between contracts to relax or pursue personal interests. This flexibility is ideal for those who value control over their work schedules and locations.

Embracing the Journey of Travel Nursing

Being a travel nurse is more than just a job — it’s a lifestyle that offers endless adventures and opportunities for personal and professional growth. By getting the right education, gaining solid experience, and teaming up with a supportive staffing agency, you could be well on your way to a thrilling and fulfilling career. The journey of a lifetime awaits!

Author bio: Garrett Norman is Vice President of Operations at SkyBridge Healthcare. With over a decade of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry, Norman has developed a passion for building successful teams, facilitating connections between healthcare clients and candidates, and driving revenue growth at SkyBridge Healthcare. While overseeing day-to-day operations is his primary job function, Norman also enjoys golfing, reading, and spending quality time with his family.


  1. https://www.herzing.edu/become/travel-nurse
  2. https://www.gmercyu.edu/academics/learn/become-travel-nurse



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