The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Travel Nurse

Jun 14, 2019 | Travel Nursing

You’ve determined the nursing field is the place for you, but the wanderlust in the back of your head just won’t quit. That’s where travel nursing comes into play. Travel nurses explore new places while doing the jobs they love (and while making more money than their permanent counterparts).

So, how does one determine if travel nursing is the right lifestyle choice for them? It’s all about being informed. And we’ve got the inside scoop on exactly what it takes to become a rock star travel nurse.


What do travel nurses do?

Travel nurses provide temporary medical assistance at hospitals, clinics or other medical facilities around the country. Their short-term assignments can last anywhere from eight to 26 weeks, but most openings extend to about 13 weeks. Travel nurses allow departments to run efficiently when they are short staffed on core employees. They also fill in openings left by employees on maternity leave, prolonged unfulfilled positions, leaves of absence, etc.

How is travel nursing different than per diem nursing?

Unlike per diem, or per day, nurses, travel nurses have set schedules. While per diem nurses may have more flexibility due to their day-by-day schedules, work is not guaranteed. Travel nurses receive benefits, while per diem nurses do not.

Why should I travel for a job instead of for pleasure?

Because you can to both with all the freedom, adventure, changes of pace, higher earnings, great LRS Healthcare benefits (including medical coverage on the first day of the month after hire)—the list goes on and on. Getting paid to vacation and vacationing while working. What’s not to love?


Step 1: Fulfill the Education Requirements

Travel nurses tend to hold one of three titles: Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).


Registered nurses are the most common type of travel nurse. In order to be a registered nurse, one must hold at least an associate degree in nursing (AND), but a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is becoming the norm for most RNs, and it may soon be required in many states.

RNs are doctors’ right-hand people. Their day-to-day tasks can include monitoring patients, educating patients and their families, managing medical records, running diagnostics tests and analyzing results.


Typically shortened to nurse practitioners, or NPs, these nurses go through more schooling than an RN. They must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and gain an extra certification in one or more nursing specialty of their choosing.

Advanced degrees come with higher authority for NPs. They provide care that extends beyond what an RN can do. NPs can conduct exams, diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication. However, they may still require physician supervision in some states.


Travel nurses who work as LPNs do not need a degree. However, they must complete a state-approved program and pass the, a test mandatory for all RNs and higher.

LPNs perform more entry-level tasks than an RN or NP would. Their duties range anywhere from administering medication, taking vital signs, dressing wounds and helping patients with basic tasks such as eating and dressing.

Step 2: Gain the Required Amount of Experience

Hospitals require travel nurses to have a minimum of one year of recent nursing experience in the specialty they apply for. When demand is not as high, some facilities may require at least two years of experience.

Step 3: Determine Your Travel Preferences

What areas of the county are you interested in finding you first or next assignment? What type of living arrangements do you feel comfortable with or find interesting? How long would you prefer to be on assignment for in general or depending on the time of year? Would you like to travel solo or with a friend, family member or even your pet? (Yup, your furry or not so furry friends can hit the road with you too!)

All of these questions are important to take to heart and even discuss with collogues, close friends and/or family members. Then, when partnering with a medical staffing agency, you’ll have a great starting point and experts to lean on for more in-depth decision-making.

Step 4: Get Your Paperwork in Order

Before you look for agencies, you should also make sure your licenses, certifications and clinical records are up to date. If you’re looking to work in another state, applying for a nursing license there ahead of time will save you time and get you in the door quicker. you a license.

An incredibly flexible licensing option is the , which recently expanded to 34 states! This type of license allows nurses to practice in multiple state under a single license.

Step 5: Tailor Your Resume for Travel Nursing

Your resume should include your nursing experience as well as all your licenses and certifications. Don’t forget to add the number of beds in the unites in which you’ve worked and any computer skills you may have. Here are seven other things your resume should include.

Step 6: Find Your Perfect Agency

Knowing what you want ahead when it comes to location, pay and benefits of time, as mentioned earlier, will help you hit the ground running with your medical recruitment agency.

Be aware, some agencies only specialize in certain modalities and hire recruiters that only work with travelers in specific regions. Meaning, you’re passed off to a new person depending on if you’re going from the California to New York on assignment, for example.

LRS Healthcare takes a more personal approach to recruiter-traveler matchmaking. We pair our travelers with a specific recruiter that sticks with them coast to coast, 24/7/365. There are no worries about having to re-explain your wants and needs—and that recruiter is proactively thinking about your next adventure and creative ways to maximize your time out in the wild.

Step 7: Compile Your Travel Nursing Submission Profile

Once you’ve signed with your ideal agency, you’ll need to put your travel nursing submission profile together. It should include an application, a skills checklist and your clinical references. Most hospitals require agencies to submit these profiles in order form them to even consider a candidate.

Step 8: Land an Assignment

Congrats! You’re now ready to have your profile submitted for jobs. This process will likely include an interview and signing a contract. Once on board with LRS Healthcare, placements can be solidified within as little as two days. For those looking for something more specific, it can take as long as it needs to. After all, where and why you travel is what it’s all about, and we’re here to meet your needs.

It’s also important to note, contract terms and compensation are negotiable. Don’t be afraid to let them know exactly what you want.

Ready to Get Started?

If the travel bug is shouting in your ear, “Think of the possibilities!” align your career aspirations with your travel dreams and look into becoming a travel nurse. It may be the start of a new life with endless possibilities.