how to become a travel nurse

How to Become a Travel Nurse

A good nurse doesn’t pursue nursing because they’re lured by the promise of huge paychecks. Good nurses don’t work towards a career in nursing because they’re convinced that they’ll work short shifts that leave them with lots of family time.


Do You Want To Become A Travel Nurse?

Good nurses don’t become nurses because they’re looking for a career with limited manual labor. Awesome nurses don’t become nurses because they feel that nursing is easier than being a doctor. Nurses become nurses because they’re compelled to help sick and injured patients.


Becoming a Nurse

Several things need to happen before a person can become a nurse. First, they have to enroll in an educational program that specializes in nursing. There is currently a shortage of educational nursing programs, which can make it difficult for potential nurses to get in.

If you’re interested in pursuing a nursing career, apply to a nursing program as early as possible. Once a student has been accepted into an educational nursing program, they can choose to pursue various degrees such as an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, or even a nursing doctorate.


Becoming a Traveling Nurse

Obviously, the first prerequisite to becoming a travel nurse is to become an RN or registered nurse. This can be done through various programs that will prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Then you need to gain experience by working for at least one year in a hospital environment, preferably in the specialty area of your choice. The more experience you have, the better pay you’ll get. But most agencies require at least one year of experience.

Once you’ve decided that becoming a traveling nurse is something you want to do, the next step is to find an agency that’s right for you. Look at the benefits and bonuses the different traveling nurse agencies offer because they vary from agency to agency. (We recommend Trustaff. Here’s why.)

There’s no better way to check out a company than to speak to its employees to ensure the agency stands behind the pay, benefits, and bonuses they use to entice you. We did our research and ran into our fair share of problems before settling on a travel nurse agency.  

Now that you’ve chosen the agency you wish to work for and your application has been accepted, it is time to choose the available jobs. They can be virtually anywhere in the United States. The length of the jobs will vary as well. Choose carefully because you’ll be signing a contract. 



Generally speaking, to expedite the process of finding your travel nursing gig, start applying for multiple state licenses if you have the desire to travel there. If it’s only one state, start applying for your license. You can’t apply for a job in another state without a license for that state.

  • To apply for licensure in the state in which you want to work, you need:
    • State application paperwork
    • Application fees
    • Documentation (ID, Social Security)
    • Resume
    • RN license
    • School transcripts.
  • The length of time for approval varies anywhere from 4 to 14 weeks, depending on the state. 


Three Important Factors to Consider

The three most important factors for a traveling nurse who is considering a job are:

  •  The location (State, City)
  •  The length
  •  The type of facility

If one or more of the above factors is not what you’re looking for, you may end up having a bad experience. Once you choose the job you want, the agency will help find housing and keep you accountable with all the necessary paperwork. 


Other things to consider when choosing a travel nursing contract

  • Night shifts vs. day shifts
  • 12 hours shifts vs. 8-hour shifts
  • Salary
  • Hospital size
  • Teaching vs. non-teaching hospital
  • The ability to pick up overtime
  • Insurance and benefits
  • Time off during contracts

Sometimes, you will be placed in the perfect location and job setting. Many times, if the facility is happy with your work and you want to stay, you might get a full-time position with them. This often works out best for companies looking to replace a full-time nurse who left their position. 

Becoming a traveling nurse is not a decision to take lightly. It may not be the perfect opportunity for everyone. If you feel you have what it takes, stick with us to learn more!


Looking for more nursing and travel nursing information? Check out these helpful links!

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