Steps to Becoming a Travel Nurse

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Travel nurse jobs offer exciting and flexible career options for nurses seeking adventure. To become one, aspirant travel nurses must first become registered nurses (RNs), complete an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX examination before being granted state nursing licensure.

Once licensed, temporary assignments with healthcare facilities across the U.S. and abroad usually range from several weeks to several months in length.


Travel nurses work across a wide variety of healthcare environments. To secure contract employment with staffing agencies that will match them to assignments. Travel nurses typically possess either an associate degree or Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), although some travel nurses opt for advanced degrees and certifications to increase their competitive edge on the market.

Once a nurse graduates from nursing school, the next step to becoming a travel nurse is passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX). This exam tests your critical thinking and clinical decision-making abilities in order to assess whether you’re ready to start their career as an RN or LPN – therefore passing this examination and receiving their state nursing licenses are paramount for becoming successful travel nurses.

Travel nursing jobs typically consist of hospital and medical center assignments that often require different protocols and procedures to address patient issues and medical situations; as a result, travel nurses need to adapt quickly in order to survive their assignments.

Travel nurses must not only be adept at learning new systems and technologies, but must also possess resilience when faced with complex circumstances. Moving between locations while being the “new nurse” in each setting while managing challenging patients can be emotionally exhausting.

Domestic travel nurses may choose domestic assignments while international ones often require getting visas and working in countries without similar health care standards as the United States. Furthermore, international assignments tend to last longer.

Travel nurses need an adventurous spirit and flexible lifestyle in order to fully enjoy this rewarding career. While education and licensing requirements for travel nurses are similar to full-time RNs, additional hurdles exist that may increase stress. For instance, some travel nurses must recertify their license each time they begin an assignment – adding logistical difficulty that delays starting the assignment.


As a travel nurse, you’ll work at hospitals and healthcare facilities across the United States. Many facilities face immediate nursing shortages that need filling; others have longer-term staffing needs that travel nurses help fill temporarily through temporary contracts. They fulfill all the same responsibilities of traditional RNs while usually making hourly pay as well as receiving housing, food and travel stipends; exact pay may depend on specialty, location and experience.

Many RNs choose travel nursing because it allows for flexibility, adventure and higher pay. Travel nurses typically sign contracts of between 10-13 weeks; should a hospital have an opening that matches their skills or preferences they may extend or accept an assignment elsewhere.

Becoming a travel nurse requires being an RN with a valid license in both your home state and the one where you plan to seek work. Many staffing agencies will help facilitate obtaining this license during an assignment; or an enhanced Licensure Compact (eNLC), which permits practice across 39 states.

Travel nurses must quickly adapt to different healthcare environments and acquire various skills quickly in order to provide exceptional nursing care without needing much orientation time in each new assignment. Being resilient in challenging circumstances is also key, since they will likely become the “new nurse” on a unit and must navigate new responsibilities, schedules, and policies while taking on new patients.

When contemplating becoming a travel nurse, it’s essential to identify the reasons for choosing this path. Doing so will enable you to select an ideal contract and destination that meet your individual requirements and expectations. Keep in mind that once a contract has been signed it becomes legally binding; early departure won’t be permitted.


Experience gained while working as a travel nurse will prove invaluable in furthering your nursing career, no matter if it becomes long-term commitment. Therefore, it is crucial that you partner with an agency with experience, a vast healthcare facility network, and exclusive assignments available only for travel nurses – this way they will find assignments which meet both your interests and requirements best.

Experience with electronic medical records is another essential requirement of travel nursing, with hospitals increasingly using EPIC, an integrated system encompassing all parts of hospital operations. Prior knowledge with this computerized charting system will add value to your resume; some travel nurse agencies even provide training sessions or work experience in EPIC in the field.

Once you’ve met all of the requirements to become a travel nurse, healthcare facilities looking for temporary nursing staff will begin reaching out to you. When this occurs, it is crucial that you interview with your recruiter to ensure you are presented opportunities that fit both your requirements and personality.

Once your assignment is secured, you must sign a contract that details its duration (typical travel nursing assignments are 4-13 weeks long), your pay rate, bonuses (if applicable) and any other pertinent details. In addition to signing this agreement, be sure to apply for your state nursing license during this process as well.

Travel nursing offers many advantages; you’ll gain valuable experience while exploring new places while making a good living. But this type of employment might not suit everyone; carefully weigh up its advantages and disadvantages before making your decision. Some aspects may make you uneasy or it may be challenging switching jobs.


Are You Wanting to Become a Travel Nurse? One of the key requirements of becoming a travel nurse is earning your nursing degree. Although associate degree in nursing will still qualify you for many positions, hospitals and staffing agencies typically prefer nurses who possess at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree as they make them more marketable while also opening doors to further graduate education and leading to improved patient outcomes.

In order to receive your license, it’s necessary to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This comprehensive exam assesses your abilities and skills; to be successful on it, you must possess excellent critical thinking and decision-making abilities as well as prior healthcare experience (preferably working at hospitals or doctors’ offices during your nursing degree program or temporary entry-level jobs at medical facilities), which will equip you for travel nursing careers.

Travel nurses need to be familiar with state licensure requirements and prepared to research and acquire any documents required in each new assignment. Most travel nurse staffing agencies will assist in this process, though it’s advisable that travel nurses also acquire their own understanding of state licensing procedures and timelines; some states offer walk-through licensure while others participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact that allows nurses to hold one multi-state license.

As travel nurses are frequently employed at Magnet hospitals and other high-quality healthcare facilities, you must be able to compete against full-time employees during the interview process. You should make your mark with a strong resume and excellent communication skills in order to be considered for employment. Furthermore, travel nurses need the flexibility and agility necessary to adjust to new environments quickly as shifts may change suddenly; finally your schedule may depend on availability of hospital staff members.