Are you looking for a nursing job that allows you to provide patient care at various locations? Or are your goals of traveling and nursing clashing? The answer to your question is simple: It’s a career as a travel nurse!
The travel nurse lifestyle isn’t just for the adventurous. It’s for nursing professionals who want to provide much-needed support in understaffed healthcare settings. Travel nurses are essential to keeping the quality of care high and ensuring patient safety.
If you’re adventurous, this may sound like a win-win. And the career only gets better. Travel nurse earnings are high, meaning you’ll take home more than a traditional registered nurse (RN) role. So what’s the catch?
If you’re down to travel and move at a moment’s notice, there isn’t any. Travel nursing is an exciting, lucrative job opportunity for professionals who aren’t tied to a particular geographic location. Ready to explore if this role is right for you and get exploring the country? It’s time to hit the road!
What do travel nurses do?
Travel nurses bring their unique skills, specialized knowledge and varied experiences to healthcare environments that need a helping hand. These nurses work in temporary roles, meaning they must learn how systems and documentation work in these new environments. Otherwise, their jobs look very similar to traditional staff nurse roles. Here are a few generalized tasks travel nurses do on a daily basis:
- Assessing patients
- Implementing care plans
- Administering oral and intravenous medications
- Reading lab work
- Monitoring patient progress
- Educating patients and their families on diagnoses and care
How to know if you should be a travel nurse
If you’re attracted to the excitement, perks and higher pay that come with a travel nursing role, there’s no shame in pursuing the career. But there are a few more factors that can help you decide whether it’s a good fit, and finding the right fit is essential. You want to be happy in this role so you can do your best work and take excellent care of your patients. If you’re considering travel nursing, you’re:
- Up for challenges
- A quick learner
- Flexible and adaptable
- Excellent at making connections with new people
- Capable of handling high-stress situations
- Backed by a support network of friends and family (the job can be overwhelming)
How much does a travel nurse make in the U.S.?
So you’ve got what it takes to become a travel nurse, and you want to know how much you’ll make as you fill in staffing gaps in the healthcare system. It actually depends on the type of contract you sign. You’ll receive your travel nurse pay in hourly, weekly, monthly, or even yearly installments.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites an average travel nurse salary of around $3,000 per week, which totals roughly $150,000 annually. Some travel nursing roles pay even higher weekly rates of up to $7,296.
Although the BLS presents salaries weekly, many contracts offer an hourly wage. If you’re trying to determine your annual salary based on these pay rates, keep in mind that travel nursing contracts only last a maximum of one year. You’d likely have to extend your travel nursing assignment several times in that period.
If you want to earn a higher amount and are comfortable moving straight from one assignment to another, there’ll almost certainly be work for you. With no shortage of work out there, all you need to do is team up with an agency that can continue finding placements for you.
Benefits of travel nursing jobs
Making more than $7,000 per week sounds pretty great, so you may again be wondering, what’s the catch? Do I have to use my earnings for travel or living costs? Actually, no! This is where travel nursing careers get even better. Here are some benefits you’ll receive besides a high salary:
- Travel reimbursements
- Free housing or stipends (housing stipends may even include money for food)
- Monetary bonuses
- Medical, dental and vision insurance (in some positions)
- Retirement plans
- Tax benefits
- Crisis pay
There are also a few intangible benefits that we’d like to highlight. Here are some perks that’ll ensure you’re as comfortable as possible when transitioning roles:
- Flexible hours
- Choice of location (you don’t have to go all the way to Alaska if you don’t want to)
- Assistance with passports and visas (if you opt for international work)
- Desirable locations (travel nurses are in high demand in California, New York, Colorado, Texas and Florida)
How to become a travel nurse
If you’re getting excited about this high-paying career path, your next question may be: If I’m an RN who’s ready to travel, does that automatically make me a travel nurse? Not exactly.
Nurses earn licenses to work in specific states. While the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to work in several states, not all states are part of the NLC. If you’re working across NLC states, you shouldn’t have to take any additional steps before seeking a role as a travel nurse. But, if you plan to work in a non-NLC state, you’ll need to get a license to work in that area.
Aspiring travel nurses must also sign up with a placement agency. Do a little research before you partner up with one because some travel nursing agencies only work with certain networks of healthcare facilities and across limited geographic locations.
A note for the road
With many perks and benefits, you might think this is the perfect job. In reality, besides being a great job, it’s an essential one. Some nurses inevitably have to become travel nurses because this is necessary for the healthcare system. Hospitals with nursing shortages can be dangerous. When there aren’t enough healthcare professionals in any given setting, patients may not receive adequate care. Travel nurses’ work has the power to improve patient outcomes and even lower mortality rates.
Bags already packed? Don’t forget to throw in a few pairs of the best, premium-quality scrubs to remain comfortable and confident. We can’t wait to accompany you on all of your adventures. Safe travels!