The COVID-19 pandemic brought increased attention to nursing careers, particularly traveling nursing careers. These temporary positions employ registered nurses in healthcare facilities that require staff, and with a nationwide nursing shortage, there are plenty of options. If you’re intrigued by the idea of gaining experience in facilities all over the country, explore the benefits and upsides of this flexible career.
Should I Become a Travel Nurse?
A career as a travel nurse can be gratifying. You can pick up a temporary nursing job at a healthcare facility for great pay and potentially get to see a new location. It’s an excellent choice for nurses who are relatively new to the field, want to travel a bit more and are looking for better-paying jobs than they might otherwise find.
Keep in mind, though, that the job involves frequent relocation and short-term stints; long-term positions aren’t guaranteed. If you want to get settled in your career, can’t easily relocate, or just don’t like the idea of constant uprooting, a staff position may be a better choice.
The Upside to Traveling Positions
There are a plethora of positives to traveling for a nursing job. The top five positives might be enough to convince you if you’re a registered nurse who’s on the fence about these mobile positions.
1. Higher pay rates
Unlike nurses who are permanently staffed at a given location, traveling nurses are offered higher pay. Travel nurse salaries are often estimated at two or three times higher than the salaries of staff nurses and often come with travel reimbursements and lower housing costs.
The caveat is that while staffed nurses are typically classified as full- or part-time, travel nursing is considered contract or freelance work. That means your employment benefits are limited to whatever benefits packages are offered at your travel nursing agency. Contractors are not guaranteed employment benefits like staff nurses are. However, it can be a fair tradeoff for nurses who don’t use these employment benefits.
2. Short-term, flexible positions
Most travel nursing positions are short gigs for short-staffed healthcare facilities, running an average of 13 weeks. Some positions may be as short as 8 weeks or as long as 26 weeks, but they won’t require you to move permanently. You also may not need to work temporary positions back-to-back: many agencies allow you to pick the positions you’re interested in, which means you get some degree of choice in when you travel.
3. Meeting new people
Some say that the best part of traveling (whether for work or pleasure) is all the new people you can become acquainted with. This might seem less than appealing to the more introverted. But it has an upside: working these temporary positions can help you build your professional network as you meet many forms of medical staff from all over the country.
Should you choose to pursue a permanent position later on, this can help you secure a new job or better position at a specific location.
4. Job security
By no means is nursing facing an overemployment problem. In 2022, every state in the U.S. anticipated at least an 11% increase in nursing positions. The typical travel nurse contract may not last very long, but the nursing shortage virtually guarantees you employment; after all, every facility will always need nurses to fill their empty positions.
5. Building life skills
For younger nurses or nurses who haven’t traveled much, taking these temporary positions can help you gain valuable life experience. Not only will you adapt to the standards and practices of different healthcare facilities and their wards, but you’ll also become familiar with moving and adapting to new locations on your own.
How to Get Started in Travel Nursing
The benefits of travel nursing might appeal to quite a few new nurses. That being said, travel nursing isn’t an entry-level career; it has some prerequisites you’ll need to meet.
- Relevant education: A growing number of employers require an Associate’s in Nursing or a Bachelor’s in Science, though some will accept high school graduates who have been to trade school.
- Licensure: It’s no surprise that you’ll need to be licensed as a nurse. However, if you want to practice out-of-state, you’ll also need a nursing license in the state you’ll be traveling to.
- Previous experience: You usually need a set amount of experience to be eligible for travel work. Every hospital and agency has different requirements, but the average is one or two years.
If you meet these requirements, the next step is to connect to a travel nursing agency. There are nationwide agencies that you can look into, and many areas have local agencies as well. Once you get in touch with them, they can connect you to a travel nursing job.
Find Your Next Nursing Career Using JobsFuel
Whether you’re looking for a staff position or temporary travel jobs, JobsFuel can help you locate your next nursing position. Search for available jobs or set up alerts to inform you of new positions. Much like the flight for your travel position, your career will take off.