The process of how to become a travel nurse may, at times, seem lengthy though straightforward. If you have a great passion for healthcare, exploring new cities, and helping people, then this career would be most appropriate for you. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a travel nurse.

  1. Understand the career

Before you become a travel nurse, you should know the basics. Travel nurses work with companies that frequently employ RNs to quickly fill positions that are temporarily vacant across the USA and abroad.

In most cases, travel nurses are hired to fill the gaps left by an employed nurse when they take maternity or paternity leave, go for an extended vacation, or get employed away by other facilities.

As such, travel nurses can sign contracts to temporarily fill the positions or reinforce the number of available staff for a couple of days, weeks, months, and even for a few years.

If you desire to visit new areas, meet new people, and try out new experiences, then becoming a travel nurse can be more than exciting.

Where can you work as a travel nurse? You may ask

Well, travel nurses are needed virtually anywhere across the world. And that’s the main attraction making many to enter this career.

Some of the potential facilities that you may find assignment include but not limited to:

  • Clinics
  • Medical and surgery facilities
  • Outpatient care centers

Responsibilities of a travel nurse

When you work as a travel nurse, your responsibilities will be more similar to those you anticipate in registered nurses.

Depending on your nursing specialization, you will spend your shift doing the following:

  • Working with other nurses, doctors, among other healthcare professionals, to develop various care plans.
  • Teaching patients various disease prevention and overall tips for wellness
  • Assessing as well as diagnosing patients.
  • Administering fluids and medications
  • Tending to sick or injured patients
  • Conduct a follow-up with patients after treatment

As a travel nurse, you will be carrying out routine duties like your permanent co-workers. In fact, they might be surprised when your contract ends that you were not a permanent employee.

Benefits of being a travel nurse

Working as a travel nurse comes with fun and exposure that you will genuinely love. Even though they are contract-based, you will enjoy the following.

  • Times, the agency you work under, may set up interviews with various hospital administrations on your behalf. But then, you will need to prove your competency in your day-to-day work.
  • The agency can help you find a fully-furnished house near the facility for free.
  • You will have the opportunity to visit different countries.
  • The contract may include a meal stipend or bonuses.
  • Due to the diverse nature of the assignments, you can also gain vast experience in the healthcare industry.
  • Travel reimbursement

Find out the average amount of money that you can get paid as a salary

There is no exact amount of money that you can get paid as a travel nurse. However, your pay is subject to the task assigned and your specialty.

Since travel nurses have unstable employment structure, your average pay may be highly variable. And even the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t have specific pay information regarding travel nurses.

However, we can use the average pay of $36.30 per hour in 2018 to guess that the salary for a travel nurse is also around the figure.

If you want to boost your earnings, you can take on more responsibilities.

  1. Meet the requirements for becoming a travel nurse

The requirements for a travel nurse are the same as those of permanent nurses. The only difference comes in the area of work. Therefore, the following are necessary.

  • Education

If you want to become a travel nurse, you should be an RN having either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree from an accredited program (nursing). Before becoming an RN, you must fulfill the following:

  • Complete pre-requisite

Depending on the nursing program you’d wish to enter, the following may apply.

  • Have a GPA of 2.0 to 3.25
  • Three years of studying math’s subject (with Algebra II and geometry.
  • At least three years of science subject (including biology and Chemistry).
  • I have four years of English.
  • Last but not least, you must have at least two years in a foreign language.

When you complete the pre-requisite above, you’re good to proceed to classes, study, and earn a diploma or a degree.

  1. Earn your degree in nursing

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), anyone who wishes to join a nursing career should have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum.

Therefore, the best way of preparing for being a travel nurse is by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Associate degree in Nursing (ADN).

However, if you’re eager to be RN as soon as you without a college degree, the best way to go is by enrolling, studying and earning a diploma in a hospital-based program.

This will only take you two years, and you’ll be done with your studies and received a certification.

The major caveat with a nursing diploma is that it only prepares you for entry-level positions, unlike the ADN and BSN, that present a broader employment perspective.

With a diploma in nursing, you can advance as you continue working as an RN.

Are you passionate about becoming an RN but have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree? If so, then you needn’t worry. You can still make it without shading much sweat.

The good news is that you can enroll in an accelerated degree. Or opt for a BSN.

When you enroll for an accelerated degree, you will be allowed to transfer general education requirements and complete the degree within two years.

  1. Pass the NCLEX exam

The NCLEX-RN exam is a national standardized test administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

When you pass this exam, your opportunities for becoming a professional travel nurse are endless.

The exam covers four major areas:

  • The first area focuses on safe and effective care environment, hygiene, effective care environment, addressing care management, and infection control.
  • The second area focuses on health promotion, health control, early detection, and prevention.
  • The third area focuses: Psychological integrity
  • The last area deals focus on the Assessment of psychological integrity. And it forms the most significant part of the exam.

After passing the NCLEX-RN exam, you will qualify for RN licensing. Since this is one of the major requirements to be eligible for a travel nurse job, the battle is half won.

  1. Gain a practical experience

Now you’re through with your training, and what remains is to practice your skills and knowledge in the real world.

Again, this is a crucial part that will contribute enormously to the openings that you will qualify for in the future.

Since you must have at least two years of experience in your specialty to qualify for being a travel nurse, you want to get it right.

That said, you should look for an opportunity in any health facility to get working and hone your skills.

  1. Apply For A Nursing License Compact

If you’d wish to be a registered nurse, you must get a license in the state where you offer your services. But when starting as a travel nurse, you might need to work in multiple states or countries.

Is it possible to get licensed to work in multiple states? Of course, yes. Through the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), you’ll be allowed to hold a single license that’s valid in many states.

However, this can be pretty easier if you find a reputable travel nurse staffing agency as the agency can help you get the RNS license. And that’s what you’ll be doing in the next step.

  1. Look For A Travel Nurse Staffing Agency And Apply.

With your education, credential, and nursing experience in place, the next important step is to find a travel agency that will connect you with your dream job.

To get started, make a list of reputable agencies and organizations which match your dream.

From the list you’ve made, you can vet the agencies and organizations based on their available positions and benefits packages.

After that, apply to your most preferred agencies based on your specialty and professional goals. Be a bit choosy in selecting your position and the agencies to ensure you get what suits you the best.

  1. Secure An Assignment

Wanted to become a travel nurse? Right, you’re now at it. In this final step, you want to have your professional profile submitted to get jobs.

Also, you will be going through job interviews and signing contracts.

When it comes to contracts, it might be a bit overwhelming for the first time, especially when negotiating a complex deal.

But this should be a problem as you can consult your senior collogues and get tips on how to do it without migraines.


To become a traveling nurse is one of the exciting things that take time to come. Even though the path might seem a little bit tough and lengthy, following the above seven steps can help you navigate through your journey effortlessly.

How many years does it take to become a traveling nurse?

This schooling may take 2-4 years depending on the length of the program. The most important element to becoming a travel nurse is experience. Most travel agencies and hospitals require nurses to have a minimum of two years of nursing experience prior to applying for travel nursing contracts.

How much does a travel nurse make a year?

Registered nurses in the United States make an average mean salary of $71,730 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while travel nurses tend to make at least $10,000 (sometimes more) per year on average, according to travel nurse surveys.

Is it hard to be a travel nurse?

Whether you’re traveling for a long or short assignment, frequent travel is not easy; in fact, any profession is difficult when travel is part of the job duties. Working undesirable hours – travel nurses are often required to work weekends, nights, and weekend shifts.

Where do travel nurses stay?

The most common option for travel nurses is to allow your agency to find you housing. Most agencies have an internal housing department that finds a place for a short-term lease (often they have long leases that they rotate travelers in and out).

Do travel nurses get time off?

As a travel nurse, you don’t accrue PTO (paid time off) as staff nurses do. This means that every time your contract ends and you take a break between your next contract, you don’t get paid.

Is Travel Nursing stressful?

Like any profession, travel nursing can have its ups and downs. You’ll have long and stressful days, but you’ll also meet amazing people who are there to help. You’ll get to travel the country, but you might have occasional bouts of homesickness.

Do travel nurses get benefits?

As a travel nurse, you earn more money than just your salary. Many travel nursing agencies like Host Healthcare, offer refer a traveler bonuses. You could also receive a sign-on bonus when you start your new assignment.

Do travel nurses get to pick where they go?

Can travel nurses choose where they go? A. Yes. You get to pick the state, the hospital, and the healthcare setting.

How long do travel nurses stay in one place?

How long can a travel nurse stay in one place? To be considered a traveling nurse, the job must be temporary. So in this case, a traveling nurse can stay in one place for up to 12 months. This is based on IRS guidelines as allowable for tax benefits, in addition to other conditions.

What is the highest paying nurse job?

The certified registered nurse anesthetist consistently ranks as the highest paid nursing career. That is because Nurse Anesthetists are advanced and highly skilled registered nurses who work closely with medical staff during medical procedures that require anesthesia.

Can a nurse become a millionaire?

So can nurses become millionaires? Yes. Many nurses can become millionaires by following some simple steps. For starters increasing their income, managing their expenses and saving/ investing some of their money.

Can nurses make 6 figures?

It is absolutely possible to make $100,000 a year as a registered nurse. In fact, the path for how to make six figures as a nurse can be reasonably straightforward. However, the amount of money a nurse makes in a typical year varies depending on several factors.

What type of nurse is most in demand?

Registered nurse (RN)

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.

What is the hardest type of nursing?

Here are just a few of the specialties our readers mentioned — along with a little insight into what makes these nursing jobs so difficult.
  • Oncology. There’s no surprise that this specialty is near the top of the list.
  • Hospice.
  • Medical-Surgical.
  • Geriatric Care.
  • Emergency Room.
  • Psychiatry.
  • Correctional Nursing.

Is 50 too old to become a nurse?

Put simply, there is no such thing as being too old to become a nurse. Marian University’s Accelerated BSN program has seen all ages come through the nursing program, many of them career changers who are looking to start a second, more fulfilling career. Roughly 38 percent of all of ABSN students are over 35.

Is nursing better than pharmacy?

Nursing provides more diverse career opportunities, but pays less than a career in pharmacy. Pharmacists are specialists whereas nurses are generalists who need to study and know drugs, but also administer them. Nurses have a broader scope of responsibility in terms of patient care.

Is it worth it to become a nurse?

You will literally save lives, and that is incredibly rewarding. Nurses are always in demand, no matter where you go. You’ll make decent, stable money. You might not get rich by being an LPN or RN, but your salary may allow you to live a comfortable lifestyle depending on where in the country you end up working.