How do I become a Traveling Nurse?

Becoming a traveling nurse is a fun and exciting option for the person who would like to combine their love for people with their love for travel. All while making a difference in someone’s life, you will experience the excitement and flexibility of getting to travel to any number of exhilarating locations.

A traveling nurse may be needed within a healthcare facility for several reasons which may include the need for temporary staffing due to expected leave of absences or perhaps, there are not enough qualified nurses to fulfill a facility’s needs. At times, a city’s population will increase due to warmer weather climate during the wintertime or, unfortunately, some cities are considered dangerous and therefore, there is a nursing shortage in relation to the crime and injury rate. To provide ultimate care for their patients, a hospital will hire highly trained and skilled, although temporary, help to fill the void.

The usual path of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) applies to the traveling nurse, as well. The minimum requirement may include an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, however, an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree may provide you a better salary and better job opportunities.

After you have obtained your license upon passing the NCLEX-RN exam, you must then work at least a minimum of one year in a hospital setting preferably in the area of expertise you wish to practice. If possible, any other certifications that you can earn to validate your competency in a specific field is preferred. Please be aware that if you plan to travel out of the state you are certified in, you must gain licensure from the particular state you will be practicing. Compact RN licenses may be obtainable which will allow you to work in other states without getting one for each specific state, however, this may only apply to residents of certain states. The agency in which you are working for will be able to help you with this option.

At this point, you will be eligible to apply with a staffing agency to help you locate a job. An agency will be able to give you your best options in which to choose from depending on the city or state you wish to work. You may be asked to complete a current TB test, a physical, in addition to, your needed immunizations. Many agencies that work with traveling nurses offer benefits such as health insurance, travel and housing reimbursement and retirement plans. Dental and vision insurance is often offered, as well.  Typically, an assignment will last up to thirteen weeks. If you like where you are and want to stay, you may be offered an extension if your employer feels the same and the need is still there, however, if you don’t like where you are then, fortunately, your commitment is not long-term.

Wondering what a traveling nurse gets paid? Well, that is hard to predict because each contract is different and the benefits and paid expenses all vary. A nurse may make more per hour but have less traveling expense benefits just as one may make less per hour and have optimum living expenses. Average pay per hour may range from $25 – $48 per hour or upwards of $100,000 annually, depending on benefits.  In some cases, a traveling nurse will make more than other Registered Nurses who are in permanent positions. Also, some agencies offer lucrative sign-on bonuses!

The main advantages of becoming a traveling nurse is that you can pick and choose where you work and when you want to work. If you need to take a month or two off, you can. You will enjoy meeting new people and taking in all that each city has to offer. If you are interested in a nursing career, check out our Top Online Nursing Degree Programs that we have compiled for your convenience.