How to Become a Travel Nurse: Education Requirements, Salary, Job Description

Travel nurse checking his phoneA travel nurse works in temporary nursing positions nationally and internationally, performing normal nursing duties. Positions can last for weeks or months within the United States or for several years overseas. A travel nurse enjoys a wide variety of work experiences, constant change in scenery and special benefits, such as housing and transportation.

Travel nurses who intend to practice in more than one state within the United States must hold a current license to practice as a registered nurse in each state or meet the requirements for practicing as a registered nurse in the country in which they intend to practice.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Travel Nurse
Education Requirements
Travel Nurse Job Description
Sample Job Description
Travel Nursing on YouTube
Personality Traits
Career Options
National Salary Snapshot
Career Path
Professional Organizations
Relevant Publications
Related Careers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information regarding the employment, salary or job outlook for travel nurses but the BLS does offer an overview of registered nurses, who may work as travel nurses.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.

Level of Education Required Associate degree or Bachelor Degree in Nursing
Board Examinations needed NCLEX-RN, RN-BC
Average Salary $62,000
# of Jobs (2012) 2,712,000
Job Outlook (2012 to 2022) 19% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov
Salary information courtesy of Indeed: http://www.indeed.com

How to become a travel nurse

To work as a travel nurse, an individual:

  • Must have an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accredited nursing school
  • Must have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Must secure license to practice as a registered nurse in more than one state
  • May seek to fulfill other requirements of other countries to work there as a nurse
  • May pursue additional education in languages or nursing specialties
  • May pursue certification in other nursing specialties

Education requirements

To work as a travel nurse, the individual must graduate from an accredited nursing school with an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Travel nurses may take additional courses in various nursing specialties. Nurses interested in traveling outside the country for work may take advanced courses in languages, international relations, infectious diseases and other nursing specialties.

Job description

A travel nurse is a registered nurse who goes long distances to provide nursing care. The travel nurse often supplements the nursing staff of a facility. Many travel nurses take care of patients in underserved nations in need of trained, experienced nurses.

Job duties of a travel nurse may include recording medical histories, measuring and recording vital signs, recording changes in patient condition, administering medications and treatments and providing education to patients, families and community members.

Sample job description

Sample job descriptions and qualifications are sourced from various job board websites, like these: careerbuilder.com, indeed.com.

  • Provides nursing care in a specific location for a limited amount of time
  • Performs direct patient care activities including assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • Monitors and coordinates patient care activities with ancillary departments to optimize patient care and comfort

Qualifications:

  • Current RN license with BSN preferred
  • 2 years full time med/surg nursing experience within the last 3 years
  • Current CPR certification.

Travel nursing on YouTube

Personality traits:

  • Flexible
  • Has a positive outlook
  • Eager to learn new skills
  • Enjoys adventure
  • Able to adapt to new surroundings quickly
  • Passionate about helping

Travel nurses report to nursing supervisors, department heads and administrators of the individual healthcare facility. Travel nurses also report to hiring agencies.

Career options

Typical workplaces for travel nurses include:

  • Hospitals
  • Community healthcare centers
  • Learning facilities
  • Research facilities
  • Agencies

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not produce employment and wage statistics for travel nurses, the BLS does expect jobs for registered nurses to increase 19 percent from 2012 to 2022.

A travel nurse may act as an independent contractor but many sign on with a travel nurse agency.

National salary snapshot

Indeed lists the average travel nurse salary as $67,000 while SimplyHired posts $29,000 as the average nurse salary.

Typical career path

The typical career path to becoming a travel nurse is to:

  • Earn a nursing diploma (RN), Associate of Science in Nursing (ANS), or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Pass NCLEX-RN
  • Gain at least one year of experience in a specialty

Professional organizations

American Travel Health Nurses Association: http://www.athna.org/

National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations: http://www.natho.org/

International Council of Nurses: http://www.icn.ch/

Relevant publications

Healthcare Traveler

Related careers

Military nurse – provides and coordinates care for members of the military, often in mobile care facilities