10 Travel Nursing Requirements

Travel Nursing Requirements

By the staff

You may have met travel nurses in your unit, heard their stories of fun adventures, and wondered:

“How can I become a travel nurse?”

“Are there any special travel nursing requirements?”

Yes, there are a few requirements, but the process is fairly straightforward.

In fact, the road to travel nursing is can be boiled down to 10 easy steps.

How to become a travel nurse

1. Get your nursing license.

The vast majority of travel nurses are registered nurses, so it helps to start out with an RN license to get the most out of your travel nursing career. 

Getting your nursing license requires graduating from an accredited nursing school and passing the NCLEX. 

While a bachelor’s degree is not a travel nursing requirement, nurses with BSNs will find more opportunities available, and find it easier to get the travel nursing jobs they want.

2. Get some nursing experience.

After obtaining their nursing license, most new grad nurses will need close to a year of experience in an acute care environment before they can become a travel nurse.

Travel nursing jobs in the ICU, labor and delivery, and some other specialties will often require an additional year of experience before one can apply to travel, but these travel nurse requirements can vary by facility.

Nurses who have been working for a while will find that their experience and skills are highly valued for travel jobs, and employers are normally looking for recent acute care experience.

3. Complete nursing certifications.

Several travel nursing assignments will require current nursing certifications, such as the Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS); some facilities will also require the NIH stroke certification.  

Specialty certifications, such as CCRN for critical care nurses, are also recommended to help you stand out from other candidates during the interview process. Once you begin applying for jobs, you recruiter will confirm which certifications are necessary before starting an assignment.

 4. Apply with a reputable travel nursing company.

One travel nurse requirement is that you must work with a travel nursing agency. The good news is that it won’t cost you anything to be represented by an agency, and they take care of the majority of your job hunting and employment details. 

RELATED: Top 10 Things to Look for in a Travel Nurse Agency.

It all starts with filling out an application online, followed by submitting some professional references and your skills checklists. 

One travel nurse application from connects you with several of the nation’s top travel nursing companies.

5. Work with a recruiter.

Once your application has been submitted and reviewed, your travel nursing recruiter will serve as your guide through the job hunting process and the myriad of travel nursing requirements.

Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions: your recruiter is there to be your career advisor and partner throughout this process, so make sure you find someone you can trust with your personal and professional goals. 

Then be open to your recruiter’s suggestions and advice about travel assignments.

6. Apply for a new state nursing license, if required.  

If you are planning to work anywhere other than your home state, one of your key travel nurse requirements will be obtaining the proper state nursing license. Recruiters recommend starting this process early. 

If your home state and the state where you want to work both participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact, it will be a very streamlined process. Otherwise, your travel nurse agency can help you know what to do.

For all the details, read our Primer for Getting Your Nursing License in Another State.

7. Pick your assignments.

Did you know that there are thousands of travel nursing jobs across the country?

Once you and your recruiter have reviewed your goals and agreed on a travel nursing assignment in your specialty and a location of interest, your recruiter will submit your candidate packet to the employer. 

Travel nursing agencies that have long-term relationships with top ranked healthcare facilities, including exclusive jobs, can often help your application rise to the top.

8. Participate in a phone interview.

Just like any other nursing job, one travel nursing requirement is to be interviewed by the hiring manager at the healthcare facility. But travel RN interviews are almost always done over the phone. 

Your recruiter will often make the original connection and may even set the appointment for the interview, but it will be up to you to represent your experience and answer questions. You’ll also want to ask your own questions about the unit and the assignment. 

Use The Travel Nurse’s Guide to Interviewing to help you ace this important step.

9. Sign a travel nurse contract.

Assuming the phone interview goes well and you are offered the job, you can then decide if this is indeed the job you want. If so, you will be asked to sign a contract. 

Your travel nursing contract should specify such things as the assignment period (most range from 4-13 weeks), your travel nursing salary, the hours you’ll be working, what hours might be guaranteed, if and how you could quality for bonuses, how you’ll be paid, what reimbursements you can expect, and more.

Take the time to read it carefully and ask your recruiter questions if you don’t understand. Travel nursing salaries and benefits, including daily per diems and travel reimbursements, will vary between agencies. Individual facilities can have variances, as well.

10. Choose your free housing option & get ready to relocate.

After signing a contract, the team at your travel nursing agency will help you get ready for your new assignment, including housing, licensing, and various travel nursing required paperwork. 

Some travel jobs also require that you pass some training modules before you can begin your assignment, so ask your recruiter for details. 

Regarding your housing options, you can either choose the free housing arranged by your agency or a housing stipend to find your own accommodations. The company-arranged option — which is often easier for first-time travel nurses — is normally a private, furnished apartment close to your assignment facility. 

Once you decide, it’s time to give notice at your current job, start packing and make plans for your first travel nursing adventure!  

APPLY with to start working with a top travel nurse agency.


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