What Is a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse is a skilled nursing professional who combines an adventurous spirit and passion for travel with a lucrative and meaningful career.
A travel nurse will work short-term contracts at healthcare facilities throughout the country. These facilities need more nurses, and they need them fast. Travel nurses fill these gaps and ensure patients receive high-quality and compassionate healthcare despite regional staffing challenges.
Travel nurses are making a powerful difference- in their patient’s lives and in the healthcare industry. A travel nurse can work in a wide variety of healthcare settings. From bustling medical centers in large cities, to small clinics in remote locations- you can make the most of your nursing specialty everywhere you go.
Here are some of the benefits you will enjoy as a travel nurse:
- Unparalleled flexibility
- Endless opportunities
- Great pay and benefits
- Living in, working in, and exploring vibrant locations
- The freedom to take extended time off between contracts
Are you ready for your next adventure? As a travel nurse, new environments, patients, and coworkers bring about refreshing changes with every move. Let’s combine your passion for healthcare, adventure, and exploration and dive into the world of travel nursing!
What Does a Travel Nurse Do?
A travel nurse delivers excellent nursing care to their patients- but their unparalleled adaptability sets them apart. Travel nurses are experts in their field, and they hit the ground running.
Travel nurses seamlessly become a part of a unit’s staff and jump right in to provide high-quality care to their patients- often with only a few shifts of orientation. It can often take weeks or months to orient a new core staff member to a nursing unit, but travel nurses can fill these staffing vacancies and begin caring for patients significantly faster.
While the core principles of nursing care remain consistent with your specialty, as a travel nurse, you will be able to:
- Thrive in a fast-paced and dynamic environment
- Quickly integrate into a new healthcare team
- Understand and adapt to varying patient demographics
- Familiarize yourself with state-specific healthcare norms
- Learn new charting systems, new equipment, and adapt to different ways of doing things
Life as a travel nurse is always exciting, and flexibility is part of the beauty. Every travel assignment presents new challenges, lessons, and adaptations- and you will leave each contract with new insights, adventures, and memories.
How to Become a Travel Nurse
To become a travel nurse, you will need to have a nursing license plus a minimum of one year of experience as a registered nurse. You will also need to feel confident in your skills, judgment, and critical thinking as a nurse. You will be expected to provide excellent nursing care with minimal orientation, so you must be a solid and experienced nurse within your specialty.
Embarking on a travel nursing journey isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. Becoming a travel nurse requires planning and preparation.
- First, complete your nursing degree and pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse.
- Then, gain the requisite experience in your specialty.
- While gaining experience, look into the nursing licensure requirements for states you are interested in exploring. You will also want to understand the nursing licensure compact to maximize your mobility.
You will also want to decide on a travel nurse agency. Travel agencies match nurses with the contracts, facilities, and locations they desire. They also assist with pay and benefits and act to support and advocate for the nurses that they employ.
When you are a travel nurse, you are not an employee of the healthcare facility that you work at. You are employed by your agency. We know the journey to becoming a travel nurse can seem intimidating at first- and many of us here at Trusted have been travel nurses in the past! It's completely normal to wonder:
- How will I find a job?
- Where will I live?
- How will I make new friends?
- Can I make sure I am being compensated fairly?
- Will I feel supported?
Not all travel nurse agencies are created equally. Here at Trusted Health, we give you the guidance and support to make your travel nursing journey a smooth one. We are tireless advocates for our nurses and are here to help you every step of the way. Keep reading to learn more about how Trusted helps you become a travel nurse and our unique benefits!
Average Salary For a Travel Nurse
The average salary for a travel nurse varies based on location, demand, nursing specialty, and travel nurse agency. Pay is important- you deserve to be well-compensated in exchange for your nursing skills, dedication, and adaptability.
According to data from Zip Recruiter, travel nurses in 2023 can expect to make an average of $2,391/week. Pay can range from $1,048- $3,654 weekly. You can earn significantly more if you work more than 36 hours/week or your specialty is in high demand.
Travel nurses are not salaried employees- they are paid an hourly rate, along with stipends for housing, travel, and other expenses. These stipends can be tax-free if you are eligible. Your hourly rate and stipend will vary from contract to contract.
Travel nursing often comes with an attractive compensation package, and travel nurse pay can often surpass the pay scales of traditional staff nursing roles. However, how much travel nurses make can shift based on multiple factors. Here’s what to consider with a travel nurses salary:
- Specialty - Certain specialties may pay higher than others.
- Geographic location - Places with higher costs of living will often pay more than those with lower costs of living.
- Experience - Generally, the more experience you have, the higher pay you can be able to negotiate.
- Urgency of the need - Facilities will pay top dollar to get nurses on short notice.
At Trusted Health, We want you to be aware of and empowered by the value that you bring to both your patients and healthcare facilities- and we want you to be able to find the highest-paying travel nurse jobs.
The dynamic nature of travel nurse pay makes it crucial for prospective travel nurses to stay current on factors that affect their pay. To view transparent pay information, take a look at our Nurse Salary Guide.
How Does Travel Nursing Work?
Travel nursing works and operates on a contract-by-contract basis. Travel nurse contracts have a defined start and end date, with most assignments ranging around 13 weeks.
Your contract will also note the hours you are required to work- 36 hours per week, 48 hours per week, and state dayshift, nightshift, or rotations. However, there's always room for flexibility.
To start, you will need to find a job through a travel nurse agency or company. Finding the job you want, when you want it, has never been easier with Trusted. We use your specific preferences to match you with travel jobs, and our platform makes the job search super simple - here’s some tips to get the job offer you want!
Next, you will need to consider pay and benefits. Trusted is transparent about these from the start. Here are some of the perks of traveling with Trusted:
- Day 1 medical, dental, and vision benefits
- Stipends for housing, meals, and incidentals
- Liability and workman’s compensation
- Health and wellness benefits
- Qualified license and certification reimbursement
- A dedicated Care Team
- A community of fellow nurses who provide support and camaraderie
Once you have a job offer and are satisfied with your pay and benefits, you will sign your contract and get started. Take advantage of our tips to maximize your travel contact, and enjoy the experience!
Should any nurse fall in love with a particular location or team, contract extensions are always on the table. Once you complete a contract, you are never under any obligation to begin another until you choose to. Trusted will continue to support you, advocate for you, and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Why Do We Need Travel Nurses?
Travel nurses and the travel nursing industry are needed to fill the gaps in a healthcare system often stretched thin. Patients still deserve the best care possible despite staffing shortages, and travel nurses meet that need.
Travel nurses are pivotal in ensuring patient care remains uninterrupted, regardless of regional shortages. Here are some common reasons for staff shortages that travel nurses help fill:
- Seasonal population surges - Think about retirees traveling to warmer destinations over the winter and towns outside of National Parks that see increased visitors in the summer. Ski destinations also see an exponential boost in population over the winter.
- Sudden upticks in healthcare needs - These can occur in almost all locations throughout the United States during the flu and respiratory virus seasons or public health crises. Travel nurses step in to fill the gaps.
- Staffing needs - Facilities often use travelers to cover their own staff’s paid parental leave, vacation time, or disability leave. Travel nurses fill in when staff nurses leave their positions for any reason.
A travel nurse’s unique adaptability and willingness to relocate on short notice ensure that facilities can maintain suitable staffing levels to deliver consistent and quality care despite ever-changing circumstances. Travel nurses are needed and appreciated!
Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing
There are benefits and downsides to travel nursing. At Trusted, we strive to be transparent about all aspects of traveling. It's a career filled with exciting adventures, meaningful moments, and competitive pay. Yet, it's not without challenges.
If you are curious if travel nursing is a good choice for you and your lifestyle- here are some things to consider.
Regular transitions mean saying frequent goodbyes, adjusting to varied work cultures, and sometimes coping with the unpredictability of assignments. For many, these challenges are part of the allure, but weighing the benefits against the downsides is always a good idea.
Pros: You can generally work when and where you want to, or at least get close. Don't want to work the holidays? Great- you don't have to take a contract that falls over those dates!
Cons: Flexibility can go both ways. For example, if you have your heart set on a specific location, you may need to be flexible on your dates of employment and vice-versa.
- Pay & Benefits
Pros: As a travel nurse, your pay will typically surpass that of a staff nurse. You will enjoy a higher pay rate and have comprehensive benefits as well.
Cons: As a staff nurse, your pay rate is relatively consistent. As a travel nurse, your rate will vary from contract to contract. As a traveler, You can maintain health insurance between contracts, but the cost of benefits can increase during extended time off.
- There’s Always Something New!
Pros: If doing the same thing, working at the same hospital, and living in the same place isn’t satisfying to you- travel nursing will be a breath of fresh air!
Cons: While some people love new challenges, others are creatures of habit. If beginning something new, learning a different healthcare system, or making new friends every few months doesn't sound fun- travel nursing may not be a good fit.
Pros: Most people only experience new places for a week or so on vacation- you get to live in many different locations for months at a time. You can truly and fully experience a city in your time there as a travel nurse. And you don’t have to cram all the activities you want to do into a week!
Cons: Frequent travel also leads to incidental expenses and miles on your vehicle. Most travelers find that their stipends and higher pay rates make up for this.
- Work-Life Balance
Pros: Worried your staff job will never grant you the time off to do things important to you? Maybe you want to spend a few months in a different country. Or take a month off to be with your sister when she welcomes a new baby. The options are endless- and as a traveler, you can do these things and more between contracts!
Cons: While working a contract, you accrue sick time and are eligible for a wide range of benefits, but travel nurses do not accrue paid time off for vacation days. If you desire specific dates off within your contract, get this written in ahead of time! It can be challenging to get time off approved once you have already begun working.
- Time With Family and Friends
Pros: You can take time off between contracts to see your family and friends, and they can visit you in new places! You will meet tons of new people. Travel nurses often have an extensive network of friends spanning the country and world.
Cons: You may miss your friends and family back home while you are away on contract. To ease this, ask for specific dates off during your contract if travel back home is essential to you. Plan your time in between contracts, and don’t forget about FaceTime!
- Learning Different Policies & Procedures
Pros: When you work as a travel nurse, you will learn so much! There will be new ways of doing things- both in and out of the hospital. You will take these experiences with you and become a stronger nurse. Changing your work environment from time to time is a breath of fresh air and helps prevent burnout.
Cons: On the flip side, you may sometimes become frustrated as a travel nurse. You may ask yourself, “Why in the world would they do it this way here?” As a traveler, everything is temporary! If you dislike aspects of a location, there will be positives, and your contact is not permanent.
Find a Travel Nursing Job With Trusted
Your dream of blending passion with profession awaits! Kickstart your travel nursing journey by creating a free Trusted profile. Set your preferences, dive into personalized job matches, learn more about how traveling works at Trusted, and let us help you every step of the way.
Your nursing knowledge and skills are valuable- and they can take you anywhere. Travel nurses are in demand, compensated well, and have a high rate of job satisfaction. The world is vast, and countless adventures await! Let’s start building the life you want.