Have you ever thought about travel nursing? Travel nursing jobs are in demand around the country, especially in times of crisis. As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to work and travel the U.S. while earning a high income with great benefits. If you love to travel and enjoy working in new environments a career as a travel nurse offers many perks. You can travel on a short-term basis or make it a full-time career. Traveling puts you in control. Learn more about what a travel nurse does and what it’s like from these FAQs.
- What is a travel nurse?
A travel nurse is a nurse that is hired to fill a position on a short-term basis if a hospital or healthcare facility experiences staff shortage for reasons such as vacations, employee turnover, or growth. These short-term nursing contracts are available all across the country. It’s a great opportunity to see different parts of the U.S. while making a great living and gaining new skills.
- What is it like to be a travel nurse?
Life as a travel nurse is both exciting and challenging. Having to adapt to a new environment will draw you out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet and work with people from different backgrounds from you. You’ll also learn new skills and ways of doing things. There are positives and negatives to being a travel nurse, just like in any job. Travel nursing can be lonely if you aren’t traveling with your support system. If you like change, adapt well socially, and love to learn, then becoming a travel nurse is ideal.
- What levels of nurses can travel?
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) can all take travel positions. An RN who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is the most common type of travel nurse.
- What are the qualifications of a travel nurse?
To become a travel nurse, you’ll need to have graduated from a U.S. accredited nursing program and hold current licensure or certification. You will need to meet the registration requirements of the state you will work in as well. You’ll also need to provide proof that you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. by presenting a U.S. passport, or other proof of citizenship.
- How much do travel nurses make?
Pay for travel nurses varies based on the career level and the location. Generally, travel nurses make more than their non-traveling peers because the jobs are in demand.
- What are the traits of a successful traveler?
A successful traveler is flexible, has a thirst for adventure, and most importantly loves to travel. A travel lifestyle may be easier for a single person or someone young in their career. The bottom line is a successful traveler thrives in adapting to new places. They enjoy the freedom and constant change of a career on the road.
- How do benefits work with travel?
When you travel, you’ll receive a competitive salary and great benefits. The compensation package for travel nurses is often better than staff positions. Typical benefits include free housing or a stipend, 401ks, referral bonuses, weekly pay, tax advantages, travel reimbursement, support, discounts, free continuing education, in addition to medical, vision, and life insurance. Benefits will vary depending on the agency you choose and your personal needs. Some companies will not provide insurance but will give you a sign-on bonus.
- How do taxes work for travelers?
Taxes for full-time travelers can get tricky because you are living and working in multiple states within the same year. Fortunately, there are tons of resources for travelers on filing taxes. One of the main tips is to claim a “tax home” with the IRS which they define as the general area you live and work. This may or may not be your permanent residence as a traveler. You’ll pay local, state, and federal tax from your identified tax home. A travel staffing agency or seasoned travel nurses can help you navigate taxes when the times comes. Keep records, read up on tax codes, and consult a CPA or attorney if needed.
- How long do contracts last?
Travel contracts usually last 13 weeks or about 3 months. In some cases, contracts could range anywhere from four to 24 weeks.
- What skillsets of travel nursing positions are available?
Travel nurse skillsets for open positions include critical care, surgical, operating room, emergency room, pediatrics, and more. Search travel nursing agencies to see what specific positions and skillsets are needed.
- Are there crisis rates for travel nurses?
Yes, crisis rates are available for travel nurses. In times of crisis such as natural disasters and pandemics, travel nurses receive $5 to $20 more an hour in addition to bonuses for extra shifts. This is because they are working in risky conditions and often working overtime because of the need. Travel nurses may even earn more in crisis pay than regular staff.
- How does housing work?
Travelers either get free housing provided through the staffing agency or a housing stipend. Some people like to choose their housing and prefer the stipend, while others like to stay in provided housing. However, in some cases where they offer provided housing, you may have a roommate. Some people choose to live in an RV and pocket the stipend. Airbnb's are a popular choice for people choosing their housing. There are Airbnb's that are specific for long term stays.
- How does transportation work?
Many travelers choose to drive themselves to work locations that way they have a vehicle to use during their contracted stay. Travelers may also be reimbursed for travel expenses depending on the agency they are working with. Others may choose to fly if they will be living close to work that they can walk or use public transportation to get around.
- When should I apply for a new position?
Typically, you’ll need to have at least one year of prior work experience as a nurse before you start to travel. As soon as you are ready and have all the proper paperwork completed you can start applying for jobs. You’ll need to have all your documentation and travel/housing arrangements because assignments could start as soon as the following week.
- Can I extend my assignment?
Yes, you have the option to extend the assignment if you choose, however, there is no guarantee that you will be able to extend. If you do get approval to extend your assignment, then your assignment could last up to a year if you wish to stay that long.
Where can I find travel nursing jobs?
There are hundreds of travel nursing agencies to choose from. ProLink Staffing is one of them. We can help you find a job as a travel nurse. Contact us today to learn more.
Here are a few other travel nursing agencies and resources: