How long does it take to become a travel nurse after high school

The journey to becoming a travel nurse after high school can take 2 to 5 years, depending on your chosen educational path and the specific requirements of the travel nurse agencies you’re interested in. Here’s a breakdown:


  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): This two-year program qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become a registered nurse (RN). After passing the exam, you can start working as a staff nurse and gain the required experience for travel nursing.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): This four-year program provides a more comprehensive education in nursing. While only sometimes required for travel nursing, a BSN can increase your job prospects and potentially open doors to higher-paying travel contracts.


  • Most travel nurse agencies require at least one year of experience as a staff nurse before considering applicants. Some prefer two years or more, especially for critical care or specialized nursing positions.

A travel nurse is an experienced healthcare provider eager to do temporary jobs in the U.S. and other countries for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Instead of seeking permanent employment in hospitals and clinics, these licensed and registered nurses use staffing agencies specializing in travel nursing to find short-term jobs. There are precise dates for the beginning and end of the travel nurse assignment and details about the total pay and work expectations.

The need for registered nurses has grown in the healthcare industry, and there are critical shortages of nurses in some areas and high-demand specialities. To fill in these gaps, travel nurses have stepped in. The 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey found that 6% of R.N.s work as travel nurses.

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How to Become a Travel Nursing Assist

How to Become a Travel Nursing Assist

The exact educational and work requirements for travel nurses are the same as for registered nurses (RNs). Before becoming a nurse, you need at least an associate degree (ADN) or a bachelor of science (BSN). After getting your degree, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain a licensed nurse license in your state. Employers want travel nurses to start working immediately, so staffing agencies for travel nurses usually look for people with at least one year of clinical experience. Certifications and specializations can help you get ahead.

1. Complete an authorized program to earn your ADN or BSN.

ADN or BSN degrees are needed for travel nurses to become licensed as R.N.s. Getting an ADN is the fastest way to become an R.N. nurse. Conversely, a BSN usually takes four years to finish and gives graduates more training and clinical experience, which can lead to more job opportunities. The biggest travel nurse staffing companies and healthcare systems like to hire R.N.s with a BSN.

2. You must pass the NCLEX exam to become a licensed nurse.

To become an R.N., you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for R.N.s (NCLEX-RN). The computer-based test lasts up to six hours and covers nursing practice, conditions and treatments, how the healthcare system works, legal and moral issues, and talking to and teaching patients.

3. Get experience as a clinical nurse.

You will likely find a placement if you have more clinical experience. Most companies will only hire people with at least one year of experience. On the other hand, some healthcare contracts need at least two years of clinical experience. Travel nurses need to be able to take on new jobs right away without any training or orientation. They need to adapt to new places, people, and procedures.

4.Search for a Travel Nursing Agency.

Nurse staffing agencies have become more popular as R.N.s retire or leave the workforce, leaving a gap in the nursing staff. As a result, many companies started up that only hire travel nurses. Companies that hire travel nurses often post job openings at nursing school career offices, professional groups, and online. Before hiring a travel nurse agency, you should look into how well-known it is. When looking at different agencies, you should see if the contracts they offer meet your needs regarding available locations, types of assignments, pay and benefits, and travel and housing arrangements.

5. Start your first job as a travel nurse.

Travel nurses have different duties and responsibilities for each new assignment because they work in other places and with varying types of patients. You will get little training on the job most of the time. Depending on the employer, your first shift may start with a complete orientation or a short talk about how things work and the rules. You might work with a nurse for the first few days, but you’ll be in charge of your tasks soon after.

Some travel staffing companies help you find housing to help you get used to your new location, but you may choose to find your own to save money on housing costs.

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What your role and responsibilities are?

Most of the time, travel nurses have the same duties and roles as regular R.N.s. These nurses work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to make care and treatment plans for patients of all ages. Some of the things they have to do every day are:

  • Organizing care for patients
  • diagnosing, evaluating, and keeping an eye on patients
  • Teaching patients and their 
  • Giving out medicine, treatment, and vaccines
  • Making and keeping medical records up to date
  • Keeping track of inventory and supplies
  • families about health, their illnesses, and their treatments

These tasks can differ for travel nurses based on their speciality and the facility’s needs.

Environment of Work

Travel nurses work in a range of places. Some places where they work may be:

  • In hospitals
  • First aid rooms
  • Facilities for urgent care
  • Nursing homes and places that help people live alone
  • Centres for rehabilitation
  • Hospice Care
  • Health centres in the community
  • Health care companies

The assignments that travel nurses get can make their schedules very different. Travel nurses don’t have a “typical” work day, but they work at least three to four times a week in shifts lasting six to twelve hours.

Travel nurses usually have more control over their work schedules and can look for jobs that let them work on the days and times that work best for them.

Benefits and Bonus

Travel nurses often get different incentives and bonuses compared to their competitive pay. Among these benefits are the following:

Payment for travel and licenses

  • help with housing costs, free private housing, or a tax-free living stipend
  • Paychecks every week
  • Insurance for health and dental care

On top of their pay and benefits, travel nurses often get bonuses. These can be hospital, agency, retention, or referral bonuses. For example, hospitals may offer bonuses for signing up and finishing the job.

Helped-Out Housing

Some companies that hire travel nurses include housing stipends in their pay to help nurses pay their bills. Also, agencies can either find housing for their travel nurses or provide housing for them.

Chances to go travelling

Being a travel nurse allows you to see new places, meet new people, and have fun. Travel nurses can work in big cities or in rural areas that don’t have enough medical staff. California, Texas, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Alaska, Washington, Florida, Virginia, and Illinois are familiar places for travel nurses.

Travel Nurse Education

Becoming a travel nurse is a unique and rewarding journey requiring specific skills and educational preparation. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the education needed for aspiring travel nurses:

  1. Educational Background:
  • Most travel nursing positions require a minimum nursing diploma, an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN is often preferred for broader career opportunities and advanced roles.
  1. Licensing and Certification:
  • Obtain a nursing license in the state or states where you plan to practice. Travel nurses typically hold Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certifications.
  1. Gain Clinical Experience:
  • Acquire relevant clinical experience to enhance your skills and confidence. Many travel nursing agencies prefer candidates with at least one to two years of clinical experience in a hospital setting.
  1. Specialized Certifications:
  • Consider obtaining specialized certifications in your area of interest. Certifications such as Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) or Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) can increase your marketability.

5. The program’s lessons

The BSN curriculum covers health promotion and prevention, evidence-based nursing practice, statistics and research methods, community health, healthcare systems and management, and talking to and teaching patients. It also includes working as a nurse or doctor in a healthcare setting.

6. Time to Finish

It usually takes four years to finish a BSN course. Part-time students may need more time; most of the time, they need up to six years. ADN holders, students with transferable college credits, or students who passed A.P. exams can finish their BSN in two to three years.

7. Skills Acquired

People with a BSN degree can give tests and keep an eye on patients’ health, teach patients how to improve their health, care for children and adults, help with surgeries and other medical processes, and perform as part of a healthcare group.

A license for a travel nurse

As a travel nurse, you must ensure you have a valid license to work in the state where you want to work. If the state where you got your first R.N. license is a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) member, you won’t have to obtain a new permit to work in any other NLC state. But not every state is a member of the NLC. If the state where you want to work as a travel nurse is not on the NLC list, you must apply for a license in that state before you start your contract. There are faster ways to get temporary permits in some states, and some staffing agencies can help you with the application process.

Certification and Specialization for Travel Nursing

Many R.N.s choose to get speciality nurse certifications in a wide range of areas, such as paediatrics, obstetrics, emergency care, and infection control. Getting a certification might not be necessary for some jobs, but specializing can help you stand out from other applicants and even help you make more money.

A report on travel nurse pay says that people who are experts in ICU, medical-surgical, operating room, and emergency room nursing are most in demand as travel nurses. ICU nurses make up 16.5% of all travel nurses. They are the most in-demand type of travel nurse. Healthcare companies and staffing firms often look for travel nurses who are experts in certain kinds of patients, like neonatal nursing and paediatrics, or who have experience in certain types of services, like emergency and critical care nursing.

Salary travel nurse job and career prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an R.N. is $77,600 per year. Between 2021 and 2031, the need for these professionals is expected to grow by 6%. It’s essential to remember that this information isn’t just about travel nurses; it’s about all R.N.s’ careers. Most of the time, travel nurses get paid more than staff nurses.

Working as a nurse on journeys

Travel nurses take on short-term jobs wherever there is a need for nurses. They could work in community health centres, hospitals and clinics that need more nurses, and healthcare organizations in the U.S. and other countries that deal with public health crises, disease outbreaks, and other medical emergencies. The typical contract for a travel nurse is between 13 and 26 weeks, but hours and shifts can vary depending on the job.

Pay for travel nurses also depends on where they work and what kind of nursing they do. The BLS says the average hourly wage for R.N.s is $42.80, but Vivian, a significant healthcare hiring service, says the average weekly salary for travel nurses is $2,200, or $61.20 an hour. The lowest-paid travel nurses can make as little as $1,764 a week, while the highest-paid ones can make as much as $2,703. Most of the time, travel nurses make more than the average R.N., but they sometimes have to pay for housing, health insurance, and other work-related costs that aren’t covered by their contract.

The Wrapping Up

Start an enjoyable career as a travel nurse, meeting critical healthcare needs while having fun and learning new things. From getting your degree to getting your first job, learn about the different parts, duties, and benefits of this rewarding job.

FAQs about How long it takes to become a travel nurse?

How long does it take to become a travel nurse?

Becoming a travel nurse typically takes several years, including education, licensing, and gaining clinical experience.

What are the advantages of specializing as a travel nurse?

Specializing can make you stand out, potentially leading to more job opportunities and higher pay.

Do travel nurses have control over their work schedules?

Yes, travel nurses often have more control over their schedules, allowing flexibility in choosing work days and times.

What certifications are beneficial for travel nurses?

Certifications such as Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) or Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) can enhance marketability.

How much do travel nurses get paid?

The pay for travel nurses varies, but it often surpasses the average R.N. salary, with additional benefits and bonuses.

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