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 youBelow 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.

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