Travel Nursing Requirements
All that is required for you to become a travel nurse is your valid RN license, enough experience in your specialty to satisfy an employer, and the freedom to take on the adventure of travel nursing on assignment.
Requirement 1: Your RN License
An RN license usually involves four years of nursing school to get your BSN degree, though this can vary depending on where you are in your education. Most employers prefer travel nurses to have a BSN degree, since these programs provide the most well-rounded, in-depth nursing education and produce confident, professional RNs who can handle what the job throws at them. For more information on how to get your RN license, see our pages on nurse licensing and becoming a registered nurse.
Requirement 2: Nursing Experience
Though most employers require travel RNs to have at least one year of experience in their nursing specialty, in truth one year is usually the bare minimum. Most employers will jump at hiring a travel RN with several solid years of work experience in their nursing specialty, especially if they also have traveling experience. RNs with one year of experience or less can still find good jobs, though it may take a little longer to find the right employer – so remember to be patient with your recruiter!
Requirement 3: A Complete Travel Nurse File
Besides your RN license, there are a few other pieces of documentation travel nurses need to be placed into a job. Your recruiter will help you to complete your file, which may consist of:
- References from charge nurses or nursing directors. Either a phone number and detailed contact instructions, a written reference letter, or both will get your credibility established. It will help if they are NOT a close friend.
- Education verification. The facility, and your recruiting agency, will want to see a transcript in order to prove you did indeed graduate from an accredited nursing school!
- Current certifications. If you have your certifications for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) or others, you will need that documentation. Having the actual card may be necessary, so don’t lose it in your sock drawer.
- Background check. All facilities request a background check, which is paid for by your recruiting agency. It is important to alert your recruiter to any issues on your record, such as prior convictions, DUIs, and the like, because having those come to light after the fact is far worse than being up front about them. Some housing landlords may also request a credit check for housing purposes.
- Drug tests. Facilities check for illegal drugs frequently, as well as any prescription drugs, so be prepared to show any prescriptions you may have.
- Clinical tests. Travel nurses need to be immunized against various diseases, receive a physical, and have other clinical tests done to prove they are healthy and strong. Keep your most recent tests handy to add to your file, because the more you already have completed, the faster you can be placed.
Requirement 4: Freedom to Travel
Travel nursing is a fun, rewarding professional experience you will be able to reflect back on throughout your nursing career. As such, you should view travel nursing as an adventure, and a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your nursing skills to a variety of employers in different work environments. It is also a good way to meet other travel nurses, establish long-term friendships, and build the professional connections you will need to make your nursing career as successful as possible.
Travel nurses should have the freedom to move around the country, explore new cities and call a new place home for up to three months or more. Some travel nurses have families and spouses back home, and this certainly makes travel nursing no less fun and valuable. For unattached, single RNs, traveling is one of the most rewarding professional experiences you can have.
Other Travel Nurse Requirements
Here are some basic personal qualities most employers also look for in a travel nurse:
- Comparable work experience to the job you’re applying for. In general, the more experience the better.
- A strong history of completed assignments. Completing contracts is good — on the other hand, not finishing contracts looks bad to employers.
- Good attendance!
- Professionalism. Take your interview and the job seriously. There are a lot of candidates trying to take both from you.
- A professional appearance is key. If you look like a slacker, you will be treated politely and then ignored.
With these pointers, you can go on to land a great travel nursing assignment. Good luck.