Skip to main content

Looking for Adventure? Try Travel Nursing

The growth rate of the nursing profession varies widely due to role and specialty. Job growth for registered nurses (RNs) between 2021 and 2031 is projected to be similar to the average of all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But certain areas of the field like travel nursing can see extreme growth when demand exceeds supply. Plus, the chronic shortage of nurses nationwide makes properly educated and qualified nurses a sought-after commodity in modern healthcare.

Although nursing is a high-need occupation, distinctions in nursing education and credentials can still give graduates a competitive edge in landing the job they want. For instance, earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the Northern Kentucky University online RN to BSN program could help you pursue travel nursing jobs at top ranked hospitals. Travel nursing allows you to explore your passion for adventure while you develop and build upon your career in nursing.

What Is Travel Nursing?

In this occupation, nurses work short-term contracts at different hospitals and healthcare facilities. In the U.S., the average travel nursing contract period is around 13 weeks, although contract periods do vary greatly and can be extended. Travel nurses generally work in their area of specialty. They get placed through travel nurse staffing agencies, and these agencies negotiate pay, benefits, housing and more.

The widespread shortage of nurses is a major reason for the popularity of travel nursing, with hospitals scrambling to fill needed positions or meet staff-to-patient ratio requirements. Travel nurses may also staff temporary positions in areas with high seasonal populations, such as tourist destinations.

Plus, disasters and emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to surging demand for travel nurses. According to Relias’ 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report, 90% of healthcare leaders and executives hired travel nurses in 2020, a dramatic increase over 2019. NBC analysis of Aya Healthcare data shows that pandemic hiring of travel nurses peaked in September 2021, with roughly seven times the number of open positions as the same month in 2019. Travel nurse hiring has since declined, but this shows how closely the profession is tied to current events and demand.

What Are the Benefits of Travel Nursing?

For adventure lovers, the clearest benefit of travel nursing may simply be the opportunity to travel and experience new things. Overall, Relias’ report found that compensation is the most common incentive for travel nurses. Some hospitals offer higher-than-average pay for travel nurses because of the high demand and immediate need to fill positions. Reports show travel nurses making as much as $10,000 per week in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, while pay has leveled as the COVID-19 emergency has lessened, travel nurses are still needed to fill shortages and help treat the increasing numbers of patients showing signs of long-COVID. According to ZipRecruiter, travel nurses make an average of $2,276 per week as of October 2022, in addition to solid benefit packages.

Plus, travel costs, housing and other living expenses are generally covered, making travel nursing a good opportunity to save money and pay off student loan debt. Some staffing agencies even offer tuition assistance to get nurses the education and qualifications needed to fill higher-level positions.

Travel nurses also get to diversify their skill sets by working at different facilities with differing technology and systems. Placements at highly respected hospitals around the country can go a long way toward building a resume and improving one’s future job prospects.

Another unique benefit of travel nursing is the flexibility and work-life balance it affords. Travel nurses get to select their placements, schedule time off between placements and, in some incentivized situations, even choose their shift schedule.

What Education, Experience, Licenses or Certifications Do I Need to Be a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses are required to be registered and licensed as mandated nationally and state by state, just like any other registered nurse. One or two years of experience in one’s area of specialty is generally required. Specialty certifications may also be required or preferred.

Although being an RN will suffice for plenty of travel nurse placements, many of the top hospitals require or prefer that travel nurses have their BSN. A BSN is also required for some higher-level placements.

For instance, nurse managers and nurse leaders at hospitals that achieve Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center must have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The travel nurse staffing agency will determine placement according to each travel nurse’s credentials and ongoing professional development.

What About International Travel Nursing?

For those interested in international experience, travel nursing abroad is an enticing prospect. The overall process is similar, as many countries have analogous licensing/certification requirements for nurses. But the initial process can be lengthy due to factors such as applying for work visas, securing hospital sponsorship and getting required credentials approved and verified. Many countries also require nurses to have completed a comprehensive degree program such as a BSN. Language fluency is important in non-English speaking areas, as communication is essential to nursing.

International placements are usually longer than domestic contracts, often ranging from six months to several years. Pay varies by country, though, and is often less than travel nurse pay in the U.S. However, travel nurses can make substantially more in certain parts of the world such as the Middle East.

Imagine working for a couple months in a rural hospital, making good pay while enjoying the natural beauty surrounding a small town. Flash forward to the next season, and you are spending your days off exploring the cultural offerings of a fascinating new city or country. If you love adventure, seeing new places and meeting new people, travel nursing could certainly be an exciting and rewarding career path to follow.

Learn more about NKU’s online RN to BSN program.

Request Information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 800-985-7215

Ready to Begin?

Start your application today!
Or call 800-985-7215 800-985-7215
for help with any questions you may have.

Related Articles