Travel nurses fill open positions in healthcare facilities needing short-term help throughout the country. The ability to travel, while meeting new people, and having greater independence draws many adventurous nurses into a travel nurse career.
Registered nurses become travel nurses for a variety of reasons. As a travel nursing company, we’ve met and worked with hundreds of nurses, and we’ve heard many of the reasons for leaving a traditional full-time setting for the road.
It’s no secret. In addition to traveling throughout the country, a travel nurse’s salary is one of the biggest attractions to becoming a travel nurse. Travel nurses can make more per hour than full-time nurses. It is not uncommon for travel nurses that are focused on high-paying assignments and are eager to work extra hours to earn around $100,000, but the location and nursing specialty play a huge role when it comes to pay. Traveling nurses may make less in popular urban areas because the demand for skilled nurses isn’t as high. Conversely, pay can be a lot higher in rural, less populated areas to attract talent.
And it’s not all about hourly wages either. Travel nursing per diems for housing, meals and, incidentals are great perks of travel nursing too!
So what does it take to become a travel nurse? Travel nurse agencies seek out qualified nurses who have obtained their nursing degree from an accredited nursing program. While not required, most travel nurse agencies and healthcare facilities prefer a bachelor’s degree. You are eligible to be a travel nurse once you become a registered nurse and have 1-2 years of experience in healthcare settings such as hospitals or acute care facilities. In addition to nursing licenses, nurses should consider obtaining certifications in areas such as advanced cardiac life support to help boost their resume and increase their chances of being hired for their choice assignments.
The beauty of travel nursing lies in the breadth of choice nurses have to carve out their freedom. Whatever your reason for becoming a travel nurse is, our staffing agency is here to support you on your journey. Contact one of our amazing nurse recruiters to get started today.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common reasons nurses become travel nurses:
Per diem packages- housing, meals, and incidental stipends
Exposure to different places and activities
Proximity to family and friends
Flexibility to work where you want and when you want
Checking out a different location before a move
Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures
Prevent burnout and avoid workplace politics
Travel nursing provides endless opportunities and adventures for flexible nurses looking for great pay and career enhancement. Let’s take a closer look into why registered nurses become travel nurses.
Lower Cost of Living
Whether you choose company-provided free private housing or use travel nurse per diems to secure your own housing, travel nurses enjoy a lower cost of living than their staffing nurse peers. Veteran travel nurses who are experienced enough to know precisely what they want out of an assignment will often skimp on cozy housing for bare necessities, boosting their take-home pay significantly.
Travel nurses also have the freedom to choose assignments in areas throughout the country with a lower cost of living. Not only will housing be lower, but many common living expenses will be decreased too, such as utilities, food, and amenities in the area. Nurses looking to save money, can take advantage of lower cost of living and maximize their take- home pay.
Less Likelihood of a Burnout
Permanent staff nurses are likely to experience burnout at some point in their careers. Changing your environment every few months as a travel nurse helps to keep things fresh and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
While travel nursing is a huge responsibility, you don’t experience the same pressures as a staff nurse to join committees, improve leadership skills, and deal with hospital politics. You get to show up and just focus on educating patients and providing excellent care.
Job Opportunities in Prime Locations
Travel nurses enjoy job opportunities in prime locations, you have the freedom to choose where you want to go whether it's California, Hawaii, Florida, or New York. While getting an assignment in popular locations may take more time, you have the flexibility and job security of knowing that you can take an assignment anywhere else until your desired location becomes available.
In addition to job opportunities in prime locations, travel nursing opens doors to other opportunities in the nursing profession. Some travel nurses are almost surprised by the amount of nursing opportunities! By broadening their range of experiences, travel nurses can build powerful resumes that are sure to impress nursing managers if and when they decide to take a permanent role. And opportunities aren’t relegated to just hospitals – there are skilled nursing facilities, clinics, schools, and home health agencies! Perhaps you’ve always wanted a position in nursing informatics or have an interest in labor statistics projects. Working in different healthcare facilities allows you the opportunity to network with many different healthcare professionals throughout the country which can open doors for you to further advance your career. This speaks to the point about flexibility – it is an unrivaled choice and unprecedented autonomy for nurses who control their career trajectory.
It’s in the name. Travel nurses get an unrivaled opportunity to explore the country and get compensated well for doing so. Full-time staff nurses can take vacations (if they get approved time off), but the beauty of travel nursing is the ability to be paid for traveling!
Ever wanted to see the Grand Canyon? Itching to get to California and explore the coast? Maybe venture south and experience Texas? If you’re travel nursing, you don’t need to request vacation months in advance. You can experience these places while on assignment.
Travel nursing provides the opportunity to focus on patient care and experience minimal workplace politics. Most travel nursing contracts are 13 weeks. Living life 13 weeks at a time keeps things fresh and interesting, ensuring a change of scenery just before things get routine. Many traditional healthcare professionals get caught up in the day-to-day politics, especially working in the high-stress environment of a hospital setting, but when you are a travel nurse, hospital politics have little to do with you. Travel nurses get to enjoy different workplaces without drama.
Find the Ideal Place to Settle Down
Travel nursing is a great way to explore and experience living in different areas throughout the country that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Living and working in an area for a few months gives you a feel for an area much more so than visiting for a few days. You may live in Boston your whole life, and realize that you really enjoy San Diego while on assignment and decide to move there permanently.
Travel nursing is an excellent opportunity to compare different cities and parts of the country before committing to settling down.
How do I become a travel nurse?
Requirements for travel nursing are similar to any registered nurse - first, get a degree from an accredited nursing program, pass the NCLEX exam, and become licensed in the state you are practicing in. Nurses should get a minimum of 1-2 years of experience in acute care nursing preferably in a hospital, before setting out to become a travel nurse. Once you have experience under your belt, you can contact a travel nurse agency and speak to a recruiter about placing you in an assignment of your choice.
Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance health and wellness writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various healthcare companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.
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!