How to Become a Travel Nurse

How to Become a Travel Nurse

Are you looking for a career that allows you to travel the world, make a difference, and earn a good income? If so, becoming a travel nurse might be the perfect choice for you. As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to work in different locations, experience new cultures, and assist in providing care to those in need.

But how do you become a travel nurse? It’s not as complicated as you might think. In fact, with the right steps and thorough preparation, you can be on your way to your dream job in just a few weeks.

The first step in becoming a travel nurse is to earn your RN (Registered Nurse) license. This typically requires completing a nursing program at an accredited school and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. If you’re already an RN, you can skip this step and move on to the next one.

Once you’ve earned your RN license, it’s time to gain some experience. Most travel nursing agencies require at least one year of experience in a hospital setting. This experience will not only make you more marketable to potential employers, but it will also help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in your travel nursing career.

Next, you’ll need to choose a travel nursing agency to work with. There are many agencies to choose from, so do your research and find one that aligns with your preferences and goals. Look for agencies that offer comprehensive benefits, competitive pay, and a wide range of job opportunities. You may also want to consider agencies that provide continuing education (CEUs) to help you update your skills and stay current in your field.

Once you’ve chosen an agency, it’s time to start applying for travel nursing positions. Keep in mind that competition for these positions can be fierce, so make sure your application is polished and professional. Highlight your relevant experience, skills, and any additional certifications or specializations you have. Be prepared to provide references and be ready to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) about your availability, desired locations, and preferred contract lengths.

If you’re looking to work in a specific state or region, you may need to obtain a multi-state or national nursing license. Some states have their own specific requirements, so be sure to visit the state’s nursing board website for the most up-to-date information.

Once you’ve been matched with a travel nursing assignment, it’s time to prepare for your new adventure. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, such as your nursing license, certifications, and immunization records. Pack your bags, update your contact information, and get ready to embark on a new and exciting chapter in your nursing career.

Becoming a travel nurse is not only a great way to see the world, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. So if you’re someone who likes adventure, caring for others, and making a difference, don’t wait any longer. Start your journey to becoming a travel nurse today!

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Gain Relevant Nursing Experience as an RN

One of the key steps to becoming a travel nurse is gaining relevant nursing experience as a registered nurse (RN). This experience will not only help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge required for travel nursing but also make you more attractive to potential employers.

As an RN, you will have the opportunity to work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. This real-world experience will allow you to gain exposure to different patient populations and medical conditions, which is invaluable when it comes to travel nursing.

It is also important to consider gaining experience in specific areas of nursing that are in high demand in the travel nursing industry. For example, pediatric nursing is a popular specialization among travel nurses. By gaining experience in this field, you can increase your chances of securing travel nursing assignments in pediatric clinics or hospitals.

In addition to gaining clinical experience, it is also beneficial to pursue further educational opportunities. Many travel nursing agencies prefer candidates who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or higher. Obtaining a higher level of education not only demonstrates your commitment to the nursing profession but also opens up more opportunities for career advancement.

Furthermore, some states have specific requirements for travel nurses, such as obtaining multi-state licensure or completing additional certifications. Research the requirements of the states you are interested in working in and ensure you meet all the necessary criteria.

Overall, gaining relevant nursing experience as an RN is an essential step in becoming a travel nurse. It will not only enhance your skills and knowledge but also make you more marketable to travel nursing agencies. So, take the time to gain valuable experience, pursue further education, and meet any additional requirements to increase your chances of success in the travel nursing industry.

Research Travel Nursing Agencies

When considering a career as a travel nurse, it is important to research and choose the right travel nursing agencies to work with. These agencies play a crucial role in connecting travel nurses with job opportunities and providing support throughout their assignments.

Here are some key steps to research travel nursing agencies:

1. Determine your preferences

Before starting your research, it is important to determine your preferences and goals as a travel nurse. Consider factors such as location, specialty, salary, and work schedule. This will help you narrow down the agencies that align with your needs.

2. Gather information

Start by gathering information about different travel nursing agencies. Visit their websites, read reviews and testimonials from other travel nurses, and join online forums or social media groups where travel nurses share their experiences. This will give you insights into the reputation and reliability of different agencies.

3. Check for proper licensing and certifications

Ensure that the travel nursing agencies you are considering are licensed and certified. This will ensure that they meet the necessary standards and regulations in the healthcare industry. You can verify their licensing and certifications through the appropriate governing bodies.

4. Assess the agency’s reputation

Research the reputation of the travel nursing agencies you are interested in. Look for agencies that have a good track record of placing nurses in desirable assignments and providing support throughout the process. You can check online reviews, ratings, and testimonials from other travel nurses to get an idea of their reputation.

5. Consider the agency’s network and job opportunities

One of the main advantages of working with a travel nursing agency is their network and access to job opportunities. Consider the size and scope of the agency’s network, as well as the types of job opportunities they offer. Look for agencies that have partnerships with reputable healthcare facilities and a wide range of assignments in various locations.

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6. Evaluate the agency’s support services

Support services provided by travel nursing agencies can vary. Some agencies offer comprehensive support, including assistance with housing, transportation, and healthcare benefits. Others may have more limited support services. Evaluate the agency’s support services and choose one that aligns with your needs and preferences.

By thoroughly researching travel nursing agencies, you can find the best agency that will assist you in achieving your career goals as a travel nurse. Take your time to gather information, compare different agencies, and consider the factors that are most important to you. With the right agency by your side, you can embark on an exciting and rewarding career as a travel nurse.

Obtain Necessary Certifications and Licenses

Obtaining the necessary certifications and licenses is a crucial step in becoming a travel nurse. These certifications and licenses not only demonstrate your competence and qualifications, but they also ensure that you meet the legal requirements to practice nursing in different states and healthcare facilities. Here are the key certifications and licenses you will need:

1. RN License:

Before pursuing a career as a travel nurse, you must first obtain your Registered Nurse (RN) license. This requires completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The requirements may vary slightly from state to state, so make sure to check the specific requirements of the state where you wish to practice.

2. BSN Degree:

While it is not always a strict requirement, having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can significantly enhance your chances of landing a travel nursing job. Many healthcare facilities and travel nursing companies prefer candidates with a BSN degree, as it demonstrates a higher level of education and knowledge in the nursing field.

3. Certifications and Specializations:

In addition to your RN license and BSN degree, obtaining certifications and specializations can further boost your credentials as a travel nurse. Some popular certifications include Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certifications, such as Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Specializations in areas like NICU, ER, or ICU can also make you more marketable to travel nursing companies.

It’s important to note that different states and healthcare facilities may have additional requirements or preferences for certifications and specializations. Researching the specific requirements of the states and facilities you are interested in will help ensure you meet all the necessary criteria.

Once you have obtained the required certifications and licenses, make sure to keep them up to date. Some certifications may require periodic renewal or continuing education credits to maintain their validity.

Develop Strong Communication and Adaptability Skills

As a travel nurse, it is essential to possess strong communication and adaptability skills. These skills will not only help you succeed in your job but also enhance your overall experience as a travel nurse. Here are some key points to consider:

Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial in the nursing field, and it becomes even more important when you are working as a travel nurse. You will be interacting with different healthcare professionals, patients, and their families on a daily basis. Clear and concise communication is essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the highest level of care is provided.

As a travel nurse, you will often find yourself in new environments and unfamiliar situations. This can be challenging, but it also provides an opportunity to learn and grow. Being able to adapt quickly and effectively to new settings is a valuable skill that will make your job as a travel nurse easier and more enjoyable.

Adaptability Skills

As a travel nurse, you will be working in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. Each facility may have its own protocols, procedures, and systems in place. It is important to be adaptable and open-minded, as you will need to quickly learn and adapt to these different environments.

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Furthermore, being adaptable also means being able to handle unexpected situations and challenges that may arise during your assignments. This could include dealing with difficult patients, working in high-stress environments, or navigating through complex medical cases. Being able to adapt and remain calm under pressure is crucial in providing the best possible care to your patients.

Building a Strong Professional Network

Building a strong professional network is essential for travel nurses. This network can provide support, guidance, and valuable connections throughout your career. Networking can be done through attending conferences, joining professional organizations, or connecting with other travel nurses online.

By networking, you can learn from experienced travel nurses and gain insights into different healthcare settings and opportunities. You can also stay updated on the latest trends and advancements in the nursing field. Moreover, having a strong professional network can open doors to new job opportunities and help you advance in your career.

Build a Strong Professional Network in the Nursing Field

Building a strong professional network is an essential step for travel nurses who wish to excel in their career. Having a wide network of contacts can open up opportunities for travel assignments, provide support and guidance, and help you stay connected in the nursing field.

Here are some steps you can take to build a strong professional network:

1. Attend Nursing Conferences and Workshops

Attending nursing conferences and workshops is a great way to meet other professionals in the field. These events often feature educational sessions, networking opportunities, and the chance to learn about the latest advancements in nursing. Take advantage of these events to connect with other travel nurses, nurse managers, and recruiters.

2. Join Professional Nursing Associations

Joining professional nursing associations can provide you with access to networking events, educational resources, and job opportunities. Look for associations that cater to travel nurses or those that focus on your specific area of nursing expertise. Participate in online forums and discussion boards to connect with other members and share your experiences.

3. Use Social Media

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be valuable tools for networking in the nursing field. Create a professional profile and join nursing-related groups and communities. Engage in discussions, share relevant articles and resources, and connect with other professionals in the industry.

4. Stay in Touch with Former Colleagues

Stay connected with the nurses you’ve worked with in the past, whether it’s from your previous travel assignments or from your permanent nursing jobs. They can provide valuable insights, recommendations, and even job leads. Reach out to them regularly through phone calls, emails, or social media to maintain those connections.

5. Volunteer or Take on Leadership Roles

Volunteering or taking on leadership roles within your nursing community can help you expand your network and showcase your skills and dedication. Consider joining committees, serving as a mentor, or getting involved in professional organizations. These experiences can lead to new connections and opportunities.

Remember, building a strong professional network takes time and effort. Be proactive in reaching out to others, attending events, and staying connected. By investing in your network, you can enhance your travel nursing career and open doors to exciting opportunities.


What is a travel nurse?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse who works on a temporary basis at various healthcare facilities across different locations.

How do I become a travel nurse?

To become a travel nurse, you need to complete a nursing program and obtain a nursing license. Additionally, gaining some experience in a hospital setting is beneficial. Once you meet these requirements, you can apply to travel nursing agencies and start your journey as a travel nurse.

What are the benefits of being a travel nurse?

There are several benefits of being a travel nurse. Firstly, you have the opportunity to explore new places and experience different cultures. Secondly, travel nurses often receive higher pay rates compared to permanent staff. Additionally, travel nurses have the flexibility to choose their assignments and work schedules.

How long do travel nursing assignments typically last?

Travel nursing assignments can vary in length, but they usually last between 8 and 13 weeks. However, some assignments can be shorter or longer depending on the needs of the healthcare facility and the preferences of the travel nurse.

What skills and qualities are important for a travel nurse?

As a travel nurse, it is important to have strong clinical skills and the ability to adapt quickly to new environments. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are also important, as travel nurses often work with different healthcare teams. Additionally, being flexible, organized, and able to handle stress is crucial for success as a travel nurse.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.