What Is a Travel Nurse? Career Outlook and Salary | AHU Online

There is a growing demand for travel nurse jobs for registered nurses.  According to a report in “USA Today”, the demand for travel nursing is higher than it has been for the past 20 years.

The increase in demand is attributable to the renewed economy along with the requirement that more people should have health insurance coverage under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  Hospitals and outpatient clinics can’t keep pace with the demand for meeting the needs of these patients, hence, the request for travel nurses.

This, among other reasons such as fewer nurses going into the profession and large numbers of retiring nurses, is driving the necessity for travel jobs for registered nurses.

Let’s explore some of the most frequently asked questions about travel jobs for registered nurses:

How much do travel RN nurses make?

According to the website TravelNursing.org, the average salary for a travel nurse is $75,000 for full-time work throughout the year.  This includes more than just the hourly rate of pay.  Other compensation that you can expect to receive include:

  • Housing allowance
  • Meal allowance
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Base pay
  • Stipend

When all of these compensations are accounted for, the base pay of $20 per hour is increased close to $40 per hour.

How much does a traveling nurse make a month? Under normal circumstances, many travel nurses have the potential to earn over $3,000 per week or $12,000 per month.  This makes it entirely possible for travel nurses to make well over $100K per year, according to Nurse.org.

However, with the current COVID-19 situation, in-demand places like New York City are offering pay packages of over $10,000 per week or $100,000 for a 13-week assignment.

Not only do crisis situations impact your pay as a travel nurse.  Other factors that can influence how much you can expect to make in a travel job for a registered nurse are:

  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Shift

How do I get a job as a travel nurse?

A travel nurse is expected to enjoy experiencing new environments, freedom, flexibility, learning new things, meeting new people, and be able to thrive in challenges.  Here are the basic steps you would have to take if you want to pursue a profession as a travel nurse:

  1. Earn your Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
  3. Start working as a Registered Nurse.  You are expected to work for at least one year in a hospital or another type of healthcare facility.
  4. Pursue professional development opportunities that will help you become more prepared to work as a travel nurse.
  5. Volunteer locally or abroad to gain valuable experience on how to deal with doctors, patients, and healthcare administrators from different backgrounds and cultures.
  6. Connect with nursing organizations to have access to resources to keep nurses informed of current research and developments within the industry.
  7. Apply to a travel nursing agency that serves healthcare facilities all over the country.

What jobs can registered nurses do from home?

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed so many professions to the work-from-home scenario.  The field of nursing is no exception.  Nurses are now given the opportunity to practice from home in a surprising number of ways such as:

  • Case management 
  • Insurance claims
  • Telephone Triage Nurse
  • Health informatics
  • Call center nurse
  • Freelance nurse writer
  • Nurse educator
  • Legal nurse consultant
  • Nurse recruiters

How many years will it take to become a travel nurse?

Earning an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing will take 2-4 years depending on the length of the program.  After which, you are required to earn experience, which is the most important element before you apply for a travel job as a registered nurse.

Most travel agencies expect you to have a minimum of two years of nursing experience before applying for a job as a travel nurse.

Travel jobs for registered nurses pose many benefits for those who love the idea of having the freedom to choose when and where to work while being paid generously.  Salary is dependent on the agency that you will work with, so it will pay to do research on each company to find the right salary and benefits that will best fit your needs.