How To Become a Travel Nurse (Salary & Job Outlook)

Are you a nurse looking for a career that offers exciting opportunities, competitive pay, and the chance to explore new places? Travel nursing could be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will delve into the world of travel nursing, discussing everything from educational requirements and job outlook to the benefits and perks of this unique career path. So, buckle up and get ready to discover how you can embark on a journey as a travel nurse!

Key Takeaways

  • Travel nurses are skilled professionals who provide direct patient care and specialized procedures.
  • Education requirements include an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus passing the NCLEX-RN exam and gaining specialty experience.
  • Travel nursing offers competitive salaries, flexible scheduling, excellent career prospects, comprehensive benefits packages & the opportunity to explore new cultures

What is a Travel Nurse?

A travel nurse in scrubs standing in front of a hospital

A travel nurse is a skilled professional who works for a nurse staffing agency instead of a single healthcare facility. These nurses help address nursing shortages in various locations and bring their expertise to healthcare facilities in need. Eligibility for travel nursing requires obtaining either an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program.

However, becoming a travel nurse comes with its own set of unique challenges. For instance, you may need to apply for licensure in the state or country you’ll be working in, and some jobs may require additional certifications.

Partnerships with specific healthcare networks, regions, or nursing specialties are among the various advantages that travel nursing agencies can provide. They may also give priority to nurses holding advanced certifications like Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

What Does a Travel Nurse Do?

As a travel nurse, your role will depend on your specialty, location, and the needs of the healthcare facility you are assigned to. Some of the tasks travel nurses perform can range from:

  • Direct patient care

  • Performing specialized procedures

  • Administering medications

  • Monitoring patient vital signs

  • Assisting with diagnostic tests

  • Educating patients and their families

  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals

These responsibilities will vary based on your expertise and the specific requirements of the facility you are working in.

Travel nurses must possess the following skills and factors to succeed in their job assignments:

  • Outstanding communication skills to quickly integrate into various work settings and become a part of the team

  • Consideration of lifestyle, skills, and professional interests when choosing job assignments

  • The impact of your recruiter on your job assignments

Travel nursing provides a platform to diversify experiences and cultivate a versatile skill set, making travel nursing jobs highly desirable.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Travel Nurses?

To become a travel nurse, you must:

  • Have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam

  • Gain experience in a specialty

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Required to Become a Travel Nurse?

Although travel nursing doesn’t require specific exams, some specialties may necessitate additional certifications. Certifications like Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) could prove advantageous for particular roles. Obtaining these certifications involves meeting specific requirements and passing exams, such as the CEN or CCRN exams, which must be renewed periodically.

How Long Does it Take to become a Travel Nurse?

The journey to becoming a travel nurse varies in length, influenced by factors such as educational background, experience, and the chosen travel nursing agency’s requirements. Generally, it takes 2 to 4 years to complete an ADN or BSN degree, and most agencies require at least two years of clinical experience before considering you for travel nursing positions.

What is a Travel Nursing Agency?

A travel nursing agency is a company that contracts with healthcare facilities to employ travel nurses for temporary positions. They handle the logistics for travel nurses, such as:

  • Placement at facilities

  • Arrangements for housing

  • Meals

  • Other details

Typically, travel nursing agencies offer a range of services encompassing assignment assistance, housing arrangements, competitive remuneration and benefits, access to continuing education, along with round-the-clock support. Their responsibilities to nurses and healthcare facilities include recruiting and placing highly skilled and qualified travel nurses, providing support throughout the assignment, ensuring compliance with licensing and credentialing requirements, and handling administrative tasks like arranging housing and transportation.

What Are Some of the Most Popular Travel Nursing Agencies?

Some popular travel nursing agencies include American Mobile, Aya Healthcare, and Fastaff. These agencies offer various services, such as access to numerous high-paying travel nurse jobs, health insurance and benefits, and assignments in a range of specialties. Each agency has its unique offerings and advantages, making it essential to find the one that best aligns with your needs and preferences.

How Do I Select The Best Travel Nurse Staffing Agency?

When choosing the best travel nurse staffing agency, take into account factors such as benefits, job availability, and the agency’s reputation. You can check online reviews and ratings from other travel nurses, inspect the agency’s website and social media pages for testimonials, research any complaints or negative feedback, consider the agency’s longevity and experience, and ask for recommendations from other travel nurses or healthcare professionals.

International Travel Nurses

International travel nurses work in various countries, providing care and gaining valuable experience. They perform similar duties as domestic travel nurses but may face additional challenges such as language barriers and cultural differences. To work as an international travel nurse, you’ll need a nursing license and certification in your specialty, a passport, and a work visa.

What Does a Domestic or International Travel Nurse Do?

Whether domestic or international, travel nurses undertake a range of roles influenced by their specialty, location, and the specific needs of the healthcare facility where they are assigned. However, international nurses may encounter additional challenges, such as language barriers and cultural differences, which require adaptability and strong communication skills.

What Countries Accept Travel Nurses from the US?

Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are among the countries that welcome travel nurses from the US. To work in these countries, US travel nurses must meet specific requirements, such as obtaining a nursing license in the destination country and potentially passing language tests.

How Much Do International Travel Nurses Make?

International travel nurse salaries vary depending on the country and assignment, but they generally earn competitive wages. However, international travel nurses may earn slightly lower salaries than their domestic counterparts, with some exceptions in certain Middle Eastern countries.

How Long Can I work Internationally asa Traveling Nurse?

International travel nursing assignments have variable lengths, typically spanning between 13 and 26 weeks. Factors such as the healthcare facility’s needs, the nurse’s preferences, and the travel nursing agency’s policies can all affect the duration of an assignment.

Travel Nurse Salary and Career Prospects

travel nurse salary

Travel nurses generally enjoy favorable salaries and career prospects, backed by competitive pay and a growing demand for their expertise. As the need for skilled nursing professionals continues to rise, travel nurses can expect to benefit from excellent job opportunities and attractive remuneration packages.

How Much Money Do You Make as a Travel Nurse?

Annual earnings for travel nurses typically range from $75,000 to $100,000, influenced by factors like specialty, location, and experience. Some states, like California, Hawaii, and Oregon, offer higher pay rates, while countries like Luxembourg, Australia, and Israel provide higher salaries for nurses in general.

How Much Does a Travel Nurse Work?

Although travel nurses usually work full-time, their schedules can fluctuate based on the nature of the assignment. Most travel nurses work 40-hour workweeks, with options for five 8-hour shifts, four 10-hour shifts, or three 12-hour shifts. Some travel nursing assignments may offer longer work weeks, such as 60+ hours, and in those cases, overtime pay is mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What Are the Working Condition Like for Travel Nurses?

While the working conditions for travel nurses may pose challenges, they concurrently present unique avenues for growth and learning. Travel nurses must be comfortable with regular travel and changing work environments, as well as operating in fast-paced and chaotic settings.

Despite the challenges, travel nursing provides an exceptional opportunity to discover new places and cultures while earning competitive pay and benefits.

What Are Common Specialties for Traveling Nurses?

Emergency room, intensive care, and labor and delivery nursing are popular specialties among travel nurses. These specialties require specific qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree in nursing, licensure as a registered nurse, and a minimum of one year of experience in a clinical setting.

What Specialties Are in Demand for Traveling Nurses?

Specialties like critical care, neonatal, and operating room nursing are highly sought-after in the field of travel nursing. These specialties are highly sought after due to the unique skills and expertise required, as well as the growing demand for healthcare services in these healthcare settings, which is contributing to the nursing shortage.

Pursuing a specialty in one of these in-demand areas can lead to increased job opportunities and higher pay.

What Are the Benefits and Perks of Travel Nursing?

The field of travel nursing is rife with benefits and perks, particularly highlighting the unique opportunities it presents. As a travel nurse, you can:

  • Explore new locations and cultures

  • Gain valuable professional experience

  • Expand your professional network, opening doors to potential future career opportunities.

Moreover, travel nurses typically enjoy:

  • Competitive pay

  • Housing stipends

  • Comprehensive benefits packages, including health, vision, dental, and life insurance

  • License reimbursement (in some cases)

  • 401(k) programs

  • Various bonus programs

The flexibility in scheduling and the chance to explore different parts of the country make travel nursing an attractive career choice for many nurses.

What Types of Nursing Contracts Are Available?

Short-term, long-term, and per diem assignments are among the various contract types that travel nurses can opt for. Short-term contracts generally last for 13 weeks, while long-term contracts can range from 8 to 26 weeks. Per diem assignments offer even more flexibility, with nurses working on short-term contracts ranging from a single shift to multiple weeks.

The availability of different contract types allows travel nurses to find assignments that best suit their needs and preferences.


In conclusion, travel nursing presents a unique and rewarding career path for nurses seeking adventure, professional growth, and competitive pay. With various specialties to choose from, a growing demand for their services, and the opportunity to explore new places and cultures, travel nursing is an attractive option for both new and experienced nurses. Embarking on a journey as a travel nurse can open doors to countless possibilities and enrich your nursing career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does a travel nurse do?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse who accepts short-term positions at healthcare facilities across the country, allowing them to explore while earning a living doing meaningful work they enjoy.

How much money you make as a travel nurse?

As a travel nurse, you can expect to earn an average of $77,600 annually, which amounts to a weekly wage of $2,153, much higher than the average registered nurse’s salary of $1,492 per week.

What does it take to be a travel nurse?

To be a travel nurse, you must have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university, and be registered with a license obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Additionally, most agencies require some minimum amount of clinical experience.

What is the highest paid travel nurse?

CRNAs are the highest-paid travel nurses, earning an average of $194,352 annually or $93/hr. Home health, hospice, and oncology nurses also command high salaries, with many earning up to $142,136 each year.

Is it worth it to become a travel nurse?

Travel nursing offers a great salary and opportunity to gain experience in various specialties, sharpen skills, and expand expertise. With the average weekly pay for a travel nurse being approximately $2,327 in the United States and the median pay per year being $73,300 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is definitely worth becoming a travel nurse.