Frequently Asked Questions
Below we’ve answered the frequent questions that aspiring travel nurses ask about travel nursing. They are also separated by category. If you have a question about travel nursing that isn’t answered, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category 1 - Basic Travel Nurse Requirements
What experience do I need to work as a traveling nurse?
What if I have children? Can I still be a traveling nurse?
Must I have a license for each state I’ll be working in?
Must I sign a long term contract?
What type of person is successful as a travel nurse?
Category 2 - Travel Nurse Schedules, Pay, and Benefits
What kind of hours will I work?
How long will I be assigned to a particular location?
What is the pay rate for traveling nurses?
Can I earn bonuses?
How about Health insurance and dental coverage?
Are my travel expenses paid?
Housing, is it available, and do I get help?
What if I want to make my own housing arrangements?
Is there a 401(k) retirement program?
Category 3 - Family and Personal
Can I travel with a family member or bring a friend with me?
I have a friend who is also a traveling nurse, and we'd like to work together. Is this possible?
I have a pet that needs to come with me. Is that ok?
What about banking and/or mail?
Category 4 - Career and Advancement
Is travel nursing good for my career?
Is continuing education offered?
Category 5 - Workplaces and Work Conditions
Where are the locations I will be assigned to?
I like sunny places. Can I choose to work in warmer states (or anywhere, for that matter)?
What kinds of health facilities will I be working at?
How do I find out about each hospital/facility individual requirements?
Ok, I submitted my application. How long until I'm working?
Basic Travel Nurse Requirements
Q: What experience do I need to work as a traveling nurse?
A: One year of recent experience is generally what’s required. Obviously, you must also be a graduate of an accredited nursing program as well (US or Canada) and have valid nursing license (or certification). In addition, you must also be able to legally work in the United States. But that’s it (meaning plenty of you reading this will easily qualify.)
Q: What if I have children? Can I still be a traveling nurse?
A: Sure! In fact, a great many traveling nurses travel with their families. In addition, the “travel” part of travel nursing might only mean a specific city/area if you wish, meaning you can live exactly where you do now and still be a traveling nurse.
Q: Must I have a license for each state I’ll be working in?
A: Yes, but that’s simpler than it sounds. The travel nursing agency recruiters will offer plenty of assistance to make obtaining any necessary licenses simple. If you wish, you may want to contact the individual state boards of places you’d like to work to get current licensing information (and applications).
Q: Must I sign a long term contract?
A: Not at all - travel nurse companies will allow you to work assignment to assignment.
Q: What type of person is successful as a travel nurse?
A: Obviously, an excellent, caring nurse. But beyond that… someone who likes to travel, meet new people, wants to see the country, is bold. Someone who wants to grow, both as a person and as a professional...someone like you.
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Travel Nurse Schedules, Pay, and Benefits
Q. What kind of hours will I work?
A: Like most nursing jobs, 8 or 12 hour shifts are the norm. 8 hr shifts typically result in a 40 hour week. 12 hour shifts usually result in a 36 hour week.
Q: How long will I be assigned to a particular location?
A: 13 weeks is normal. Some assignments can get extended to 26 weeks, and there are even short-term (less than 13 week) assignments available.
Q: What is the pay rate for traveling nurses?
A: Several factors come into play here: your clinical area of expertise, the facility you are working at, and the location (city/state) of your assignment. Here are some general rates: RNs vary between $21 and $40 per hour. Respiratory Therapists and Surgical Technologists typically receive between $15 and $28 per hour. LPNs generally receive between $17 and $28 per hour.
Q: Can I earn bonuses?
A: Many assignments offer a bonus for completing the 13-week assignment. There are even a few that extend signing bonuses, multiple assignment bonuses, referral bonuses, and perhaps others. Ask your recruiter about bonuses.
Q: How about Health insurance and dental coverage?
A: Yes - this is almost always provided at minimal or no cost to you. Obviously, you will want to ask your recruiter for details.
Q: Are my travel expenses paid?
A: Almost all travel nurse companies will reimburse you for travel expenses. Ask your individual recruiter.
Q: Housing, is it available, and do I get help?
A: Yes (to both). Most travel nurse companies have apartments/condos setup and furnished, just waiting for you. These are sometimes shared units (typically, you will share a two-bedroom, two-bathroom with another traveling nurse.) Utilities and the like are handled as well. You may also be able to get a private apartment. Again (and we say this a lot, but it's helpful) ask the recruiters of the companies about their specific arrangements.
Q: What if I want to make my own housing arrangements?
A: Then you will almost always get a stipend.
Q: Is there a 401(k) retirement program?
A: Again, ask your recruiter, but in general terms, 401k is offered on most travel nurse compensation packages.
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Family and Personal
Q: Can I travel with a family member or bring a friend with me?
A: Sure! You can bring your family, become roommates with your friend – there is a world of possibilities here if you do not wish to travel alone. You know what we’re going to say now, right – ask your recruiter.
Q: I have a friend who is also a traveling nurse, and we’d like to work together. Is this possible?
A: This happens all the time, and is not a problem. You can share a condo/apartment with your traveling nurse friend, or you can each have your own apartment in the same complex – again, the possibilities are many.
Q: I have a pet that needs to come with me. Is that ok?
A: Usually this is ok. You may need the private housing option, and you may need to put down a pet deposit. But generally speaking, pets are accepted.
Q: What about banking and/or mail?
A: Almost all travel nurse companies offer direct deposit. With the advent of online banking, online bill paying, ATM’s, check cards, and many “national” banks, this is much easier than it first appears. Your check gets deposited in the bank of your choosing, and you take it from there.
As far as mail, you can get have your “home” post office forward your mail to each assignment, arrange for someone at home to receive your mail and send it to you periodically, you may rent a PO box short term in shipping/mailbox outlets and have your mail forwarded there – there are plenty of possibilities.
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Q: Is travel nursing good for my career?
A: Absolutely!! Almost all healthcare administrators are very aware of the travel nurse industry, and will welcome your experience. In fact, you’ll be a prime recruit - you have experience adapting to different situations, you get along with people, your dedication to nursing will be apparent… it’s really an exceptional resume-builder. You will also have filled many different roles in your travels, which is always helpful when applying for a permanent position.
Q: Is continuing education offered?
A: Many travel nursing companies offer continuing education both on and in-between assignments. Ask your recruiter if their company offers such (the best do.)
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Workplaces and Work Conditions
Q: Where are the locations I will be assigned to?
A: All over the US. Typically, warm weather states have more assignments, as they experience the greatest change in population. But seasonal resort states, like Vermont and Colorado, have plenty of opportunity as well. Truth be told, you can work almost anywhere you wish.
Q: I like sunny places. Can I choose to work in warmer states (or anywhere, for that matter?)
A: Yes, it’s beneficial to the travel nurse companies that you are happy, so if you like warm, generally, you will be assigned to warm. Talk to your recruiter.
Q: What kinds of health facilities will I be working at?
A: From big city hospitals to prestigious teaching facilities to rural healthcare facilities… and everything in between. And yes, you can state a preference for facility type, location, etc.
Q: How do I find out about each hospital’s/facilities individual requirements?
A: Most hospitals have an orientation program for traveling nurses, so you’ll be up to speed in no time. However, we suggest that you definitely ask about individual requirements beforehand. It will give you the information you need, and is also a strong interview question to boot.
Q: Ok, I submitted my application. How long until I’m working?
A: Well, when do you want to start? Oftentimes, you can be working in a week.
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