what is a travel nurse

What is a Travel Nurse? Everything You Need to Know

Travel nursing is a perfect career path for nurses who like to travel. And if you enjoy being a nurse, it’s like combining two passions into a career. But, what exactly does a travel nurse do? Is becoming a travel nurse worth it? How do you go about getting your first travel nursing job?

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about travel nursing. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge, tools, and strategies to pursue this career confidently. 

Let’s dive in. 

What is a Travel Nurse?

A travel nurse is a certified nurse who takes on temporary assignments in different healthcare facilities. They’re usually employed by hospitals and clinics to compensate for a shortage in staff. Plus, nurses often take this route to fill in their employment gaps. The demand for this specialty rose as a result of the nursing staff shortage. There were more patients than traditional nurses could cater to. 

Therefore, to attract nurses, healthcare employers started to offer attractive benefits, such as the cost of relocating to different locations. Note that the travel nursing specialty isn’t specific to the United States or any other region, in which case they’re better addressed as international travel nurses. 

What Does a Travel Nurse Do?

what is a travel nurse.

The role of a travel nurse job depends on the qualifications, expertise, and experience of the nurse. Generally, the responsibilities include:

  • Cater to patients by implementing the normal nursing process of assessing, diagnosing, and implementing in different healthcare environments
  • Administering medicines 
  • Assisting patients with mobility and routine activities
  • Interpreting lab tests 
  • Developing a plan for patient care
  • Collaborating with doctors/physicians
  • Providing the necessary resources for patients and their families
  • Educating the patient about their conditions
  • Providing emergency patient care services during a disaster

Note that some requirements and protocols are different for domestic and international travel nurses. For instance, a typical assignment of an international travel nurse is longer than a domestic travel nurse. 

Education Requirements for Travel Nurses

To become a professional travel nurse, you have to have a two-year or four-year nursing degree from a university. This could be a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree. In addition, most agencies will require one year of hands-on experience in your nursing specialty before considering you for the job. Moreover, international travel nurses need to learn the language of the country they’re going to offer services in, as effective communication is an important aspect of the job. 

Why Are Travel Nurses Important?

Travel nurses play a significant role in the healthcare industry because of the following reasons:

Staffing Gaps

It’s normal to face a shortage of full-time employees in healthcare facilities. Travel nurses fill in the gaps, balancing the supply and demand gap to some extent. 

Geographical Flexibility 

It can be challenging to attract full-time nursing staff in remote areas, which is why they remain underserved. Travel nurses can move there and offer the needed services whenever there’s a need.


Every healthcare organization needs diversity in its staff. Travel nurses from other locations can provide just that. 

Travel Nurses Working Conditions

Like any other occupation, travel nursing has its pros and cons. Often, the nursing staff has to deal with a lot of stress because of patient load. A sense of loneliness can also kick in, which is why it’s important to have a strong support system, even if it’s remort. 

In addition to that, travel nurses may also be exposed to dangerous chemicals and blood-borne pathogens. This is why learning and adhering to safety standards is a must. 

Travel Nurse Salary and Benefits 

travel nurse salary

The good thing is, in addition to generous salaries, travel nursing offers a range of attractive benefits, including:

  • Free housing
  • Medical coverage
  • Retirement plans
  • Choice of location and hours/shifts
  • Bonuses
  • Travel reimbursement

According to research, the average travel nurse’s salary is around $83,961 per year. However, because there’s a good demand for travel nurses, many companies are offering up to $100k a year salary. Interestingly, international travel nurses tend to make less than local US-based travel nurses. This is because the average salary of a nurse outside the US is lower. 

What is a Travel Nurse: Frequently Asked Questions

What Exactly Does a Travel Nurse Do?

Travel nurses work with agencies and provide patient care services in different locations. They work on a temporary or project basis in a variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, and homes. Generally, they offer the same services as permanent nurses. 

Do Travel Nurses Make a Lot of Money?

Yes, travel nursing is a challenging occupation, but it does come with some attractive benefits, the most prominent one being higher salaries. Many of them have the potential to earn over $3000 per week

What is the Difference Between a Travel Nurse and a Regular Nurse?

A travel nurse works on a temporary basis whereas a regular nurse is a full-time employee. Travel nurses typically work 8 to 13 weeks per project. 

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Travel Nurse?

It typically takes around 3 – 6 years to become a certified travel nurse. The duration depends on whether you take the associate’s degree (2 years) or the bachelor’s degree (4 years). Of course, a little practical experience makes you a better candidate than fresh graduates. 

Conclusion: What is a Travel Nurse

Travel nurses are like normal nurses who work temporarily in different locations on a per-project basis. The need for travel nurses arose as a result of a gap between supply and demand, i.e., more patients than in-house, permanent nurses. Travel nurses bridge staffing gaps in healthcare facilities like hospitals, clinics, and even homes.

The occupation also comes with quite a few attractive benefits, such as higher salaries, travel allowances, retirement plans, bonuses, medical coverage, and free housing. However, like any job, there are some challenges to being a travel nurse, including a sense of loneliness. So, as a travel nurse, you may need a strong support network.

In order to be a travel nurse, you need to complete a basic degree. This could be a 2-year associate’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Gain some experience to improve your chances of getting hired by a reputable nursing agency.

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