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Nursing: On the Move & On a Budget

Travel Nurse


Travel nurses work with agencies that broker nursing jobs in short-term increments, giving them one of the most flexible healthcare career paths. Assignments vary in length, but most travel nurses accept contracts in 8 to 26 week increments. To become a travel nurse, you must earn at least an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Most agencies expect nurses to have at least a year of clinical experience, preferably in a hospital setting. Additional certification credentials are useful, as many of these positions are within specialties that require additional training.

The nationwide nursing shortage makes this a viable career path for full- or part-time nurses anywhere. This could be appealing to those who prefer working in brief bursts instead of full-time employment, or to adventurous nurses who enjoy traveling. The opportunity to work in a variety of specialties and clinical settings is an ideal way to develop a well-rounded nursing skill set and explore new work environments.


Agencies and contracts differ, but travel nursing positions are commonly offered in thirteen 40-hour work weeks. Hiring entities begin each contract with an orientation period lasting several days. Once deployed on your assignment, your work schedule is designed to give you time to periodically return to your residence. For example, you may be asked to work four 10-hour shifts, leaving three days available for travel or local exploration.

Travel nursing agencies routinely offer compensation and benefits packages that are unrivaled in other industries.

Because the nature of the work is transient, travel nursing pays quite well. Many traveling RNs find that shorter assignments pay more than longer, more secure contracts. Some contracts are renewable; others pay a bonus at the end of the period. As a rule, benefits packages are thorough, and often include medical, dental and vision coverage. Some agencies also offer 401(k) savings plans and free continuing education options.

Salaries for these positions usually include lodging costs, which makes short-term work in a new area a feasible option. For many traveling RNs, this perk is one of the most appealing benefits of their job. Agencies provide a handful of housing options, generally from properties that they own or have a partnership with. Alternatively, some agencies pay a cash stipend that can be used to secure housing of your choice.


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