Travel Nurse Job Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Click on the following categories to find answers to common travel nursing questions:
What are the requirements for becoming a traveler?
You must be a graduate of an accredited health care professional program in the United States or Canada. You also need to provide a valid license or certification and proof of the right to work in the United States.
How much experience do I need to become a travel nurse?
The minimum experience requirements depend on your area of specialty, the facility, unit and sometimes even the location. The facilities we work with have different requirements and preferences, but the majority request a minimum of 18 months of experience. For some specialties such as Med-Surg, Psych and Rehab, the minimum can be as high as two years, and for LPN/LVN the minimum is typically six years.
What qualities will help me become a successful traveler?
Flexibility, a positive outlook, excellent clinical skills and an eagerness to enjoy a new adventure. You need to be open to change and a quick learner. Good communication skills are also important in this exciting nursing field.
Will traveling look good on my résumé?
Yes! Changing locations as a traveler demonstrates your dedication to your profession as well as flexibility in your clinical practice. The travel health care industry is appreciated and well-understood by nurse managers and hospital human resource professionals, so when you apply for a permanent position, your résumé will be strengthened by your list of travel assignments.
Choosing a travel nursing company
What should I look for when choosing a travel nursing company?
Choosing a travel nurse company is one of the most important steps in becoming a travel nurse. Each company is different with regards to the benefits and services it provides, so it's important to do your homework. Ask each company what it offers in terms of available assignments, pay and benefits, including health insurance and 401(k), housing, loyalty programs and clinical support. Our travel partners can answer any questions you have about what company is best suited to your needs.
Is it easy to change companies if I'm not happy?
If you are currently with a travel healthcare company but are not happy with their service or the assignments they offer, it is easy to find one that is better suited to you. With previous traveling experience, you won't have any trouble finding a nurse staffing company that will appreciate your skills and experience. Our travel partners are leaders in the industry, so check out what they have to offer.
Will I have flexibility in choosing my assignments?
You are in charge of your RN career. Just let your recruiter know what you want with regards to the location of your assignment, the facility, the clinical setting and any other details that are important to you. Your recruiter will work to make sure your requests are met.
What type of hospitals can I work at?
You can choose to work in many different types of hospital settings, ranging from prestigious teaching institutions to small, rural facilities. They all use travel nurses. If you have only worked at a small hospital and wish to continue at a similar facility, your travel nurse agency will find an assignment that matches your preferences.
How will I learn about the hospital at which I will be working?
Each hospital has its own way of orienting and integrating travelers, depending on the size of the facility, how many travelers they use and how they orient their permanent staff. Your recruiter will be able to provide you with many of these orientation details when you discuss potential assignments. This is also a great question to bring up during your interviews with the potential assignment hospitals.
Where are the assignments located?
When you travel with the best travel staffing companies, you'll have access to assignments across all 50 states and in all types of healthcare facilities.
How long will it take before I can start my first assignment?
Much of it depends on you and when you want to start. After your application has been accepted and processed, many staffing companies immediately present you as a possible candidate to hospitals, unless you ask them not to. Some nurse travelers have started an assignment one week after submitting their initial application. Others have waited a few months until they felt ready to leave their permanent position and begin their travel lifestyle. It's entirely up to you.
Traveling as a Nurse
Do I need a new license for each state I travel to?
Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding licensure. The best travel nursing companies have specialists who will work with you to ensure that you obtain the required license for your assignment state well before your start date.
Do I have to sign a long-term contract?
No. The contractual relationship between you and your travel nursing agency is strictly on an assignment-by-assignment basis.
What is a full-time schedule for a travel nurse?
Forty hours per week is considered full time for travelers working eight- or 10-hour shifts. Travelers who work 12-hour shifts are considered full time at 36 hours per week.
How do I keep up with my mail?
Travelers can deal with their mail in a several different ways. One solution is to forward your mail with the postal service each time you move. Other nurse travelers maintain a permanent address at a friend's or family member's house and have their mail forwarded to them on a weekly basis. Other travelers prefer to rent a private post office box, and the proprietor forwards all mail on a predefined basis.
Pay and Benefits
What will my pay rate be?
Travel nurse pay rates vary depending on the facility, location and your specialty, but RNs can receive competitive take home pay rates with our partner companies. Travelers with our partner companies can now see up to 15% more in each paycheck and maximize their travel nursing pay with more take home pay rates for nurses. Apply now or contact our partners for more details on take home pay.
Are continuing education hours offered?
The best travel healthcare companies, including our partners, offer courses to their travel nurses at no charge, and discounted continuing education contact hours to travelers who are not currently on assignment.
What about a 401(k) program?
401(k) programs vary by company, so check for details. Many offer excellent programs and a few provide immediate eligibility.
Will I receive medical and dental insurance?
Most travel staffing companies offer full health care coverage. Our travel partners offer travelers a choice of health plans—one with coverage starting the first day on assignment! Be sure to ask for details before you accept an assignment with any travel nursing company. It could help you make the decision about which company to travel with.
How do I earn a bonus?
Many travel nursing agencies offer bonuses, paid at the end of your assignment. Some companies also offer sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses and tenure bonuses in the form of incentive programs. Ask the company for complete details as bonuses and incentive programs vary within the industry.
How is my travel reimbursement determined?
Travel reimbursement is usually paid at the rate of 30 cents per mile. Best of all, it's tax free. This is generally paid to the traveler directly by the travel nursing company.
What type of accommodations can I expect?
Travelers typically share a comfortable two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment or condominium, close to their workplace. Apartments/condos are always fully furnished and the travel company sets up and pays for utilities. You also have the option of receiving a monthly rent stipend (called a housing subsidy) and handling your own arrangements. Each travel company's housing will differ, so be sure to check with a recruiter. For instance, our travel partners offer travel nurses free, private, quality housing, so be sure to find out what each company offers.
Yes. Most travel companies will provide you with a monthly housing subsidy if you arrange and pay for your own housing.
Traveling with Others
Can I travel with family or friends to my assignments?
Yes! Traveling as a health care professional is a fantastic way to explore the country with your family or best friends. Let your recruiter know whom you will be traveling with to ensure that you are provided with housing that suits your travel lifestyle.
Is it possible for me to take an assignment together with a friend?
Yes! Many travelers select their assignments together and either work at the same hospital or at different hospitals in the same city. Some travelers share apartments while others arrange to have their own private apartments in the same complex.
Can I bring my pet?
Pets are definitely welcome on travel assignments. Apartment complexes often require a separate pet deposit that you will be responsible for paying.