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5 Best States For Traveling Nurses

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Health Carousel Travel Nursing
April 25, 2022
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Many nurses are moving to travel nursing as a career. According to Staffing Industry Analyst (SIA), interest in travel nursing opportunities has grown tremendously over the past few years. Interest had already grown in 2014 and is continuing its upward trajectory. Health Carousel Travel Nursing has witnessed a demand for its travel nurses triple in the last year alone. So there’s no mystery surrounding why travel nursing has reached a 20-year high in demand. Some states are experiencing a higher influx of travel nurses than others due to their location or higher pay. Let’s review our list of the five best travel nursing states. 

Our top five states for travel nurses to explore in 2022 are:

  • Florida 
  • California 
  • Texas 
  • New York
  • North Carolina 

Many nurses are moving to an exciting career in travel nursing and seeking travel opportunities. And with strong growth projections for their services, that number will continue to grow.

Next, let’s detail some of the reasons why we selected each state for our top 5 list below.

Florida

Florida offers year round sunshine, so it’s no wonder it is nicknamed the sunshine state. Many travelers choose assignments in this state because of this reason. Due to the older patient population and many healthcare facilities, there is always a plethora of travel nursing assignments available. In addition, many travel nurses choose to move to Florida permanently and claim legal residence. This is because Florida has no state personal income tax.

California

Even though California is not a nurse licensure compact state, it still entices many travel nurses. This is not only due to the state’s natural beauty, but it’s also one of the highest paying states for nurses. Due to the high demand for registered nurses, the typical turnaround time to receive a California state nursing license is upwards of 10-12 weeks. However, this does not deter travel nurses from still seeking assignments. You can visit many of the natural wonders on your days off or explore areas around town. California also mandates strict break times and time off for travel nurses, which is a perk.

Texas

Texas also has a lot to offer for travel nurses, making it a popular state. You can explore the coastline or shop at some of the best, biggest stores in the country.  If you’re more into the music scene, Texas hosts many music festivals and outdoor concerts year round. While it’s a larger state, most of the bigger cities offer a small-town feel and you get to experience the local culture. Due to the high number of COVID cases and staffing shortages, Texas became one of the higher paying states for travel nurses. If you are a Texas resident, you also have no state income tax.

New York

If you like more of the urban lifestyle, then New York may be right for you. New York City, specifically, has an array of restaurants, shops, and activities to explore. New York has many travel nurse jobs available year round and has higher pay rates. If you love the wintertime and city, New York is the perfect place for your winter travel assignment. Also, there are still many staffing shortages throughout the state, so travel nursing pay continues to be higher than pre-COVID. One potential pitfall is that New York has a higher cost of living compared to other states, which can eat into your overall income.

North Carolina

North Carolina is notoriously rated as one of the U.S. News top states to live in. So, it’s no surprise that many travel nurses choose assignments here. North Carolina is one of the compact states. So if you hold a compact license, it’s easy for you to start a travel nursing assignment without the headache of going through the licensing process. North Carolina also has a lower cost of living than other states, like California or New York, which can help you save on temporary housing expenses. This state also is home to the Research Triangle, where three universities are located. So if you're interested in career advancement or development, there are many nearby universities to explore or even attend classes.

Factors Involved In Finding The Best Places To Travel Nurse In The US

When selecting a travel nurse assignment, there are several factors involved in finding the best place. Each person’s needs and wants are different from the next, so select an assignment that works for you. Let’s review some of the main factors involved that can affect whether or not you should accept an assignment in that location.

Licensing

Applications and nursing license verification can take up to several weeks, or even months for some states. If you live in a nursing compact state and hold a compact nursing license, you will be able to practice in states who participate in the enhanced nursing licensure agreement (eNLC) agreement. Holding a compact license means you have the proper licensure to practice nursing within that state. While almost every state participates, some do not. So review the state requirements and laws before accepting any assignment.

Location

Consider what location you are more interested in and the time of the year. For example, if you like outdoor activities, then California or Florida may be a better choice for you. Or if you like trying new restaurants or experiencing the local flair, then larger cities like Houston or New York City, are better suited. Also, consider the time of year you are traveling to the area. If you like winter sports, travel to Colorado during the winter months instead of the summer.

Specialty

Depending on your specialty, there may not be assignments located in the area you wish. Look for neighboring cities that may offer assignments in your specialty. This way on your off days you can travel locally to the city you really want to explore. In addition, see if your nursing skills are transferable to another nursing specialty. For example, if you are a cardiac nurse, many of your skills are transferable to work on medical or surgical units.

Shift

If you’re really interested in traveling to a location, you may have to accept a different than ideal shift for you. For instance, if you prefer the day shift and the healthcare facility only has night shift opportunities, decide if switching to the night shift is worth it for you. You may find that you prefer the night shift for travel nurse assignments because it leaves more room for daytime activities. Also, decide what is the maximum number of shifts or hours that you would like to work per week. Some assignments offer 60 to 72 hours per week, which can cut into your off time. If you are looking to explore more of the area you’re in, it may be best to take an assignment with fewer required hours.

Of course, if you’re interested in travel nursing opportunities, we have positions in the top five states listed above. We also offer assignments in other popular states, such as West Virginia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Ask to speak with a recruiter for an informal discussion on how travel nursing might be the perfect opportunity for you. They will contact you at the phone number provided.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

Woman standing with suitcase looking out at the city