Imagine: road-tripping cross country, or flying to cities you’ve always wanted to see, and having a lucrative job just waiting for you by the time you get there. Welcome to travel nursing!

Travel nursing is a unique career path that allows qualified RNs to see the world, and work the job they love at the same time. Nursing shortages and turnover at hospitals across the U.S. means that high-paying, short term positions (usually between 8 and 26 weeks) are always open to skilled travel nurses. Staffing agencies for nurses in contact with clinics, hospitals, and private care organizations facilitate nurses into these positions, assisting them with housing, pay, and benefits.

This nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But if you have a sense of adventure and a passion for helping people, keep reading to find out just what it takes to enter into this exciting line of work.

Benefits of Travel Nursing

Travel nursing has all the benefits that a career in standard nursing might offer, plus the added bonus of adventure, and a chance to see exciting new places. You’ll have to check the specific details of whatever staffing agency you choose to work through, but most agencies offer their nurses:

  • High Pay: Travel nurses make high per-diem wages, as they are often entering into organizations where their help is badly needed.
  • Private housing: Most agencies will sponsor housing for nurses on short-term assignments.
  • Health, dental, and life insurance: Travel nurses may still receive all the practical benefits one would expect from a stationary position.
  • 401(k): Travel nurses are often able to build retirement plans through their agencies.
  • A flexible schedule: This goes without saying. As a travel nurse you have complete agency over when you work. Taking time between positions to rest is totally in your control.

What Does It Take to become a travel nurse?

Nurses who are looking to travel for work should be at the top of their game, as they’re going to have to take whatever their latest job throws at them. But if you’re a hard worker and know your stuff, it’ll be no problem to prepare for this exciting new career. Below, we’ve outlined the steps you’ll be expected to take.

  1. Become an RN. Nurses must become RNs in order to be considered for travel positions. This can take between 3 and 5 years to complete. You will need to earn either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. It’s not imperative, but ideally nurses will hold a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Pass the N-CLEX exam. The National Council Licensure Examination is the final step in earning your RN license to practice.The N-CLEX looks for 4 things in incumbent nurses:- The ability to create a safe and effective care environment, focusing on things like infection control.- The ability to cope with the stresses of the job, and remain effective and integritous in your work.- The ability to prioritize prevention care, helping patients live healthier lifestyles and focusing on early intervention, rather than curing problems.- The ability to care for patients properly, and put their health, comfort, and well-being first. From here, you may decide to specialize as cardiac, ER, OR, NICU, etc. The world is your oyster.
  3. Get experienced! You need to have a little practical experience under your belt before you can sign on to the travel nursing life. Plan on getting at least 1 year in of hands-on job experience at an established clinic or hospital. Once you’ve proven yourself in a standard nursing facility, you’ll be ready to take on the challenges of a career on-the-go.
  4. Find an agency. Like we’ve said, the most common way travel nurses find jobs is by signing up with a travel nursing staffing agency. But before you go signing any contracts, you should: – Decide what you want to get out of your new career. What kinds of hospitals or clinics do you want to work for? Where do you want to travel? Asking these questions will help you narrow down your options, as most agencies cater to specific needs and areas. – Determine what your financial needs are. Some agencies pay big bucks and come with all kinds of material perks like company cars, while others offer killer benefits and housing arrangements. Do some research to see what’s right for you. – Vet the agency you’re considering. Find reviews of the agency’s services, ask colleagues for referrals, or search on verified nursing websites for top travel nursing agencies. Make sure that the organization you’re signing up with has good credentials and high success rates.
  5. Make a profile and get assignments! You should have an up-to-date resume and profile ready to go at all times. You’ll be submitting a profile that details your experience and special skills to jobs for consideration, so hiring organizations can determine if you’re the right fit. Once an organization decides to give you an assignment, you’ll be jetting off to new parts of the country to make a difference for your patients, and for the organization.

Medely is a platform committed to working for nurses. We place nurses like you into highly-desirable travel nursing positions, so that you can live life to the fullest while working your dream job. Sign up for free here to take control of your work and your schedule.

Studying for nursing exams? Or about to interview for your first nursing job? Why not check out our other blog posts, Anatomy Study Guides and Nursing Interview Questions, for tips that will help you pass tests and get hired.