With millions of patients needing care and so many hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings lacking enough staff, travel nursing has become a very in-demand career. Travel nurses play an essential role in bridging the gap between the supply and demand of nurses in different parts of the world.
There are about 25,000 travel nurses in the U.S. today. And it’s expected to increase by 15% in 2026. While the stress is real, travel nursing is nevertheless a very rewarding career. With an average salary of $81,000 per year, plus the opportunity to travel, more and more professionals are encouraged to pursue a role in travel nursing.
What does it take to be a travel nurse?
The very basic requirement to become a travel nurse is an active RN license. Nurses who hold an Associates or Bachelor’s degree completed a diploma program, as well as those who hold a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certificate are all eligible to become travel nurses. Currently, many hospitals are no longer accepting applicants with Associates degrees as they give more preference over BSN holders.
After college, aspiring travel nurses need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
If you’re working within the United States, you might still be required to obtain additional licensure from the state where you are working as a travel nurse.
In addition to the licensing requirements, you will need other credentials, such as a certificate in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Basic Life Support (BLS).
Prior experience of at least two years is also often required in many healthcare settings. If you are applying for a position at a specialized unit, such as ICU or palliative care, you may need more experience in the said areas before getting hired.
More Educational Opportunities for Travel Nurses
For more opportunities, such as a higher role and salary, pursuing advanced degrees in nursing is the key. Like other fields, a Master’s degree in Nursing is also available. MSN holders often work as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetics, and nurse midwives – three of the highest-paid nursing professions.
There are different types of Master’s degrees in nursing and they have varying admission requirements and completion timelines.
These are ideal for nurses with work experience and hold a two-year degree or diploma, but not a BSN. RN-MSN are accelerated programs that allow nurses to advance their careers more quickly.
These programs appeal to nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree who want to advance their careers or take on a specialized role, such as a nurse practitioner.
Even nurses who only possess an Associates’ degree can accelerate their career and earn a master’s degree through this type of program. ADN-MSN is great for nurses who want to specialize in clinical nursing, nursing management, and gerontology. Through this program, nurses can skip having to complete a bachelor’s degree.
An MSN program can be expensive. Good things, grants, and scholarships are widely available these days. You can also turn to financial services like a personal loan online if you need extra money to cover the cost.
Finding a Job as a Travel Nurse
Depending on your qualifications and scope of study or specialization, you can find the right position for you. Consider working with multiple travel nursing agencies so you can find the assignment that fits your needs.
In general, becoming a travel nurse is a pretty straightforward process. Once you have an active license with a year or two of experience under your belt, you are ready to take on the challenge of becoming a travel nurse.
We hope that the information provided on educational opportunities helps you along your journey. If you would like more information on travel nursing read our Travel Nurse Guide. For more information on educational opportunities for travel nurses read: Ask A Travel Nurse: Continuing Education. Finally, if you have any tips for educational opportunities comment them below!
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