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How to Build a Career in Travel Nursing

Mohamed Basha
RN CMC Founder and CEO of TLC Nursing Association
Updated November 22, 2023

Travel nursing is one of the professions that hold a great deal of appeal for individuals interested in making a career in the healthcare field. Some of the reasons why this profession is gaining traction among healthcare workers are perks like competitive pay, career flexibility, and travel opportunities. Plus, it allows healthcare workers or nurses to gain professional skills and helps them come out of their comfort zone to make a difference in their lives.

But what exactly is a travel nurse or how can you become one?

If you want to pursue a career in travel nursing, the articles may help you understand how you can become one. Let’s begin with understanding what exactly travel nursing is and what its basic requirements are.

Travel Nursing – A New Domain of Opportunities

Travel nursing is typically dimensional. It is a dynamic version of nursing that comes with a lot of traveling and vast opportunities to gain important skills. Becoming a travel nurse means you are an employee of an independent nursing agency. You can travel to different states to work as a substitute nursing staff. Also, travel nursing allows you to work at the local hospital as a temporary nurse. The choice where you want to work is totally up to you.

Requirements to Become a Travel Nurse

Having an active and valid RN license is one of the basic requirements to become a travel nurse. Plus, if you have completed your diploma program and have a license as a “Practical Nurse” or hold a bachelor’s degree in healthcare, you are eligible to practice travel nursing.

Generally, most travel nurses are RNs, but it may vary depending on the staffing needs and the location of an assignment. If you have to work domestically in the USA, you might need to obtain additional licensure in the city you will work as a travel nurse. Once you obtain an original license in a Nurse Licensure Compact State (NLC) in states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, you can work in an NLC state with your compact license.

Credentials Required for Travel Nursing

Along with your nursing license, you need the following basic certifications to sign on with any travel nursing agency.

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Moreover, if you plan to specialize in any specific unit, you need to have certain credentials to qualify in that specialty. CCRN certification, for example, is required to join critical care. Similarly, you need NRP certification for postpartum and labor cases.

It is worth mentioning that travel nursing agencies do not contribute to bearing the expenses of certification. That is why it is always better to research before you get into the profession.

Experience Required for Travel Nursing

Generally, nursing agencies prefer signing nurses who have one or two years of working experience in the relevant field. And if you have been working in a specialized unit like ICU or delivery, your agency may want you to spend 3 to 4 years before allowing you to work as a travel nurse.

How to Build a Career in Travel Nursing

As mentioned above, becoming a travel nurse is one way to hit the open road, see new places, and enjoy flexible working conditions. If you have all the necessary documents and experience in the nursing field, here are the steps you can follow to build your career in travel nursing.

Look for a Reliable Travel Nursing Company

Picking up the right travel nursing company is crucial to enter the field. Do some research or ask someone who has the relevant experience with a nursing company. You can also search for websites that review or rate travel healthcare companies on the basis of the benefits they offer.

Network with a Recruiter

When you choose a travel company, it assigns you a recruiter whose job is to find assignments, make contracts, and secure your housing. Plus, you will have to fill a checklist that identifies your interest and skills. It helps them assess your eligibility and competence for different assignments. Getting assignments depends on the skills you have. That means your expertise makes you hirable.

Don’t Miss the Opportunities

You might not get many nursing assignments in the beginning because of your lack of traveling experience. If you want to travel to New York and you are not getting nursing assignments for the city, it is important to stay positive and work on as many projects as you can to get the assignment for your desired place.

Work with a Proper License

Before accepting any travel nursing project, it is critical to ensure that you have credentials to practice in that particular state. If you have a compact license, you can travel to many states in the USA without having to obtain a new license for different states. But if you do not have a compact license, you must obtain a nursing license.

Pick a Travel Nursing Assignment

Always choose a travel nursing assignment that suits your skillset. If you do not have sufficient skills in neuro, avoid opting that line, as it might get stressful. Try to begin with assignments in the same facility you have worked before and gradually make your way up.

Be Open-Minded When Landing a Job

You might have to speak with a nursing supervisor or manager of the unit before you land a job.  It can be like an interview, but it mostly covers points like floating requirements, scheduling, and other things that are important to keep in mind to take care of the patients.

Bottom Line

All in all, travel nursing is a temporary assignment and allows nurses to travel to different places while getting valuable experience. The given details explain the basic requirements and procedures you need to follow to build a career as a travel nurse.  Give TLC Nursing a call today and get your career in Travel Nursing started!