How to Become a Travel Nurse
If you are looking for an excuse to be a nomad, you may consider pursuing a career in travel nursing. A travel nurse is a nurse that works in many different locations throughout the year. Some travel nurses remain in one hospital for a full 12 months, and others only stay for a few weeks at a time. If you enjoy new adventures and you feel comfortable working in different environments all the time, this could be a great profession for you. The guide below explains how to become a travel nurse so you can take the steps to work in this exciting career. Read on to learn more about how to get involved with this sector of the medical field.
Step 0 – Determine If This Is the Right Career for You
Before you can learn how to become a travel nurse, you need to figure out if this is the right career for you. Qualities of a good travel nurse include:
- A love for traveling
- The ability to work on a team
- A flexible personality that can adapt to any environment
- The compassion expected of any nurse
- A committed spirit that abides by schedules
Travel nurses work odd hours, and they often have to flip their sleeping schedules to accommodate for travel time. While you should have fairly consistent work as a travel nurse, there is no guarantee that there will be a demand for your services at some point in the year. Despite this uncertainty though, this career could give you a chance to schedule your own vacations and truly enjoy the time you have. You have to weigh out the pros and cons to determine if this is a career path you want to be on.
Step 1 – Get an Education
Assuming you have made the commitment to becoming a travel nurse, you will need to obtain a degree in nursing. There are several options to keep in mind, and each of them could lead to bigger and better opportunities. Here are a few common nursing degrees to consider, ranked progressively:
- Diploma in Nursing (DN)
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Most travel nurse agencies will require a bachelor level education or higher for work, but you may still be able to find a job with an ADN or DN. Bachelor’s degrees take approximately four years to complete, and master’s degrees take an additional two years to complete after that. If you get a degree lower than that, you will only spend two years or less in school. You can always check with a travel nurse agency in your area to find out the educational requirements they have for their employees. That way you know for sure you are getting the education you need to become a travel nurse.
Step 2 – Pass a Licensure Exam
With your training out of the way, you will be able to take your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This is a test that all registered nurses have to take to get their license. You may be required to go through other certification exams before working as a travel nurse, depending on the stipulations for your state. You can contact your local nursing board for more information with regards to certification.
Step 3 – Gain Work Experience
In most situations, you will need to have at least one year of experience in an actual hospital setting before applying to become a travel nurse. That ensures that you have all the hands-on training you will need to do well in whatever environment they put you in. You can use this year to get more comfortable with the field of nursing as a whole, and then you can strive to work in travel nursing after that.
Step 4 – Find a Job
You will need to look for an agency in your area that offers job opportunities for travel nurses. This agency will have access to hospitals and clinics across the country that may be in need of your services. You can go there to find work throughout the year, and you can fill in the rest of your time with a local hospital if need be. With the right drive and determination, you will be a successful travel nurse in no time.