What Does a Travel Nurse Do?
A travel nurse is in many ways like a Registered Nurse (RN). In fact, all travel nurses are registered; the only difference is that travel nurses work temporary shifts at hospitals around the country and in some cases, overseas. The typical domestic shift is 4 to 13 weeks, while an overseas stint can be for up to a year or two long. After receiving the required training, education, and initial experience, a travel nurse first applies through a nursing placement agency. The agency will eventually serve as the nurse’s liaison in finding different placements. As of 2009, there are about 340 nursing placement agencies in the country, working on behalf of travel nurses everywhere. If you are interested in pursuing a career in nursing but you enjoy a constant change of scenery, possible private perks such as housing and transportation, and meeting a growing need for nurses across the country, then travel nursing may just be the thing for you.
How Can I Become a Travel Nurse?
Becoming a traveling nurse requires you to pass through the usual stages of nursing school. The accepted minimum is Registered Nurse, which entails about two to three years of schooling. You can complete an associate’s degree in two years, or you can go for the bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years. There also the diploma in nursing option (DN), which is completed at a hospital and takes about two to three years as well. Depending on the time you want to spend and the career mobility you plan on achieving, the different degrees are really up to you. To become a travel nurse specifically, most nursing placement agencies require at least one to two years of RN nursing experience. Applying to a nursing agency is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of becoming a nurse, as it requires lots of paperwork. However, once the work is completed, your files will usually transfer from one agency to another without any problem.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse’s career outlook is “great” according to PayScale.com. The average hourly wage for a travel nurse ranges from about thirty to forty dollars an hour. What’s more, travel nurses can often have their agencies pay for their utilities, housing, and other personal costs associated with constant moving. Because there is a severe shortage of nurses across the country, the demand for travel nurses is quite high, which means that agencies are now competing heavily in terms of recruitment. With more competition, the wages and benefits of travel nurses will continue to escalate. Of course, as with physicians’ salaries, wages vary heavily by location. California is one state with higher wages and a large demand for traveling nurses. Metropolitan areas like New York City and Chicago are also well-paying. Note, however, that most of these locations have higher cost-of-living prices, too. All in all, if you want to pursue a rewarding career which enables you to travel, care for the sick, and have many of your personal expenses compensated, then this is precisely the career path for you.