Travel Nurse – the job you wished you’d known about sooner

Susanna Kahr

Are you a registered nurse who dreams of international travel? Do you often think about where you’d go, if only your shift patterns allowed you to? What if we told you that you could combine both your job and your lust for adventure by becoming a travel nurse? What could this mean for you during critical times like an epidemic? Read on to find out more about this jetsetting nursing career. 

What does a travel nurse do?

Basically, travel nurses fill in the staffing gaps for hospitals and healthcare facilities across the US for specific periods of time. Anyone who works in healthcare knows that sometimes staffing change all the time, either due to staff taking maternity or paternity leave, or the seasonal fluctuations of people in need of the services you provide. That’s where the travel nurse comes in, they are literally flown in to save the day, all without having to get involved with the inevitable hospital politics! 

“They deliver exactly what they promise. I know they’ll take care of anything that comes up and that’s hugely important in travel nursing.” – anonymous employer review at Trusted Nurse Staffing 

How does it work?

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities work with travel nurse staffing agencies to find travel nurses to fill in their staffing gaps. So, to become a travel nurse, the first thing you need to do is become a registered nurse and gain at least one year’s experience in your specialty. Then you can sign up with an agency and get a contract, with no additional training required. There are an impressive 340 travel nurse agencies around the country, so you’re sure to be able to find one that’s local to you. You should try to find an agency that is certified, though, as most hospitals only work with those agencies. It’s also recommended to work with multiple agencies so you can find the assignment that fits your needs.

“The nursing recruiters have all been understanding of my needs of a travel nurse. They have worked hard to find assignments that will work around my families schedules and the team calls you weekly to check up on how your current assignment is going. – anonymous employer review at RNnetwork  

Getting work as a travel nurse

Travel nurses have the chance to choose where they want to be located and in what specialty they’d like to work, so you can choose the contracts that work for you. There are short-term and long-term nursing contracts – typically between 8 and 26 weeks long with most being around 13 weeks. This means that you must be prepared to spend as long up to 6 months working in another part of the country. 

If you relocate and the hospital or healthcare facility you’re working for needs you longer than expected then they might extend your contract. Equally if they don’t need you for as long as expected then you can go home early but still get paid for the amount of time you agreed to work for them. 

You must also be licensed in the state where you want to accept a contract. Most staffing agencies will assist you with this process, but it may take several weeks in order to obtain a new license, this is important to consider if you want to travel between multiple states and accept shorter-term contracts.

“Great company and great people putting nurses to work and helping people around the world! – anonymous employer review at HealthCarousel

How much can I earn as a travel nurse?

On the high end of the scale, travel nurses can earn over $3000 per week. Depending on other factors, travel nurses can potentially bring in over $50 per hour plus company paid housing accommodations. Either way, it’s possible for travel nurses to make well over $100K per year!
If you want to know, how much money you will make at a certain hospital, check the kununu salary feature.


Being a travel nurse during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The spread of the novel coronavirus in late 2019 caused a big stir in the healthcare sector. This stir is equally felt for travel nurses, who are needed more than ever. What could this mean for you as a travel nurse? Unless you find yourself in a region with a lot of cases, chances are, it will be business as usual for you. However, should there be a lot of COVID-19 cases in your state, you might be recruited. Nurses are an incredibly hot commodity in Washington state, having a large saturation in cases and a declared state of emergency. Hospitals throughout Western Washington have many open spots and if you are a nurse, they definitely will not say no to extra help. Not sure where to apply? Check out the 20 best hospitals for salary satisfaction in the northern and central states. 



So what are you waiting for? Sign up to a travel nurse agency and get going! If you’d like to check out the places where you could work before you accept the contract, go and look at the many reviews of hospitals and healthcare facilities on our site. Equally, why not try to land a contract at one of our top ten healthcare employers to work for