Travel nursing has become increasingly popular as more and more nurses want to travel the country while working in a profession they love.
The nationwide nursing shortage makes travel nursing careers a viable path for nurses who prefer adventure and working in different locations rather than full-time employment.
Some see travel nursing as an opportunity to work in a variety of specialties and clinical settings to be able to develop a well-rounded nursing skill set and explore new work environments.
Travel Nursing as a Career
What do travel nurses do? They provide temporary medical assistance on short-term assignments that typically last for 13 weeks. Some positions are offered between eight and 26 weeks.
Travel nurses can choose where they want to be sent and in what specialty they would like to work. They are assigned to health care facilities to fill in the gaps where there is a shortage of nursing staff or unfilled full-time positions because of maternity leave, leave of absence, or other reasons.
Departments in healthcare facilities are able to function efficiently when their core staff is short with travel nurses who fill in the need.
The job description of a travel nursing career
Since a travel nurse is a contract worker, you can either be self-employed or employed through an agency. Either of which, you can expect to fulfill the following duties:
- Perform the general rundown of RN duties, which will vary from one assignment to another
- Recording patient history
- Performing routine check-ups
- Measuring vital signs
- Assessing and recording symptoms
- Making diagnoses
- Discussing treatment
- Administering medicine to the patient
- Helping doctors during exams and surgeries
- Dressing wounds and incisions
- Conducting basic lab work
While the above-mentioned duties are important in a travel nursing career, the most important element to becoming a travel nurse is experience. Most travel agencies and hospitals require travel nurses to have a minimum of two years of nursing experience before applying for a travel nursing contract. You are also expected to have the following characteristics before pursuing this job:
- Strong clinical background
- Leadership skills
- Expertise in the field
- Solid communication skills
- Problem solver
How much does a travel nurse get paid?
Wages for travel nurses involve more than a straight hourly rate because they can receive non-taxed stipends for housing and living expenses above their hourly rate. Depending on the staffing agency you work with, you can expect other benefits such as:
- Medical, dental, vision insurance
- 401K investment options
- Sign-on, completion, and referral bonuses
- Free continuing education courses
- License reimbursement
- Weekly/Bi-weekly pay
- Tax Advantage Plan
- Life Insurance
- Liability Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Worker’s Compensation
- 24/7 Support
The average salary of a travel nurse is $1,300 to $2700 per week making an average annual salary that ranges from $44,727 to $106,985.
The pay of a travel nursing career varies based on the state, the travel staffing agency, and the department the nurse works in. Higher wages can be expected if you are a nurse with experience in a specialized area like:
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Operating Room
- Cardiac Cath Lab
- Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
Requirements for a Travel Nursing Career
The duties of a travel nurse as outlined earlier is very similar to that of an RN. The only difference is that you will be traveling often.
Hence, the first requirement is that you must be a registered nurse (RN). It is a very basic requirement that you should have an active RN license.
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and those who hold an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in nursing are also eligible to become a travel nurse. Although, this can vary based on the exact location and staffing needs of the assignment.
You may also need to get additional licensure in the state that you will be working as a travel nurse. A Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state like Florida, Texas, or Arizona, will not require additional licensure if you obtained your original nursing license in these states. If not, the agency you are working with will help you get an additional applicable state license.
Other basic certifications you will need if you plan on specializing will include:
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- CCRN certification for critical care
- NRP for labor and postpartum care
Compensation and Benefits Unrivaled in Other Industries
A travel nursing career pays quite well along with the adventure of traveling to different places. The perks of this job usually include lodging costs or cash stipend to secure housing and short-term work in a new area, making the job less-stressful and versatile.