national
Skip to content Skip to Live Chat
Close Nav

Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

Travel Nurse Career

How to Become a Travel Nurse

Traveling around the country or the world. Meeting new people. Nursing new patients. If this sounds exciting and fun to you, a career in travel nursing could be the perfect fit for you.

Learn more in this guide about what it takes to become a travel nurse.

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Travel nursing is the practice of registered nurses (RNs) traveling to and from different healthcare facilities like hospitals or clinics on assignment, filling short-term nursing employment gaps on a temporary basis. Usually assignments come based on staffing issues at a hospital or clinic, and a recruiter will help gauge staffing needs to help make assignments. And where do travel nurses work? Nurses can travel within the U.S. or internationally, just depending on the need and the job.

Travel nurses may get assignments to go help in disease ridden areas, or get assigned to go fill gaps that are large due to nursing shortages around the United States. Nursing involves long hours and hard work, and this is also true for travel nurses. But travel nursing gives you a unique opportunity to work while visiting cities, states, or even countries you never would have gotten to visit otherwise.

What Does a Travel Nurse Do?

Travel nurses perform the same tasks and duties as a registered nurse, for the most part. Some may learn unique specialties, practices, or skills during their travels based on the needs where they are working. For example, nurses working in mosquito heavy areas may learn specific skills for treating mosquito-borne illnesses. Others may be working in an area with a swine flu outbreak and learn how to treat those patients. Others may work in an area with a large elderly population, and will learn more skills on treating older patients. As a traveling nurse, you never know what kind of patients and medical situations you may face in your assignment.

What Education Does a Travel Nurse Need?

Traveling nurses will usually need to have at least one year of experience working as an RN. While you can become an RN without a degree, more and more nursing positions are requiring bachelor’s degrees, especially for traveling positions. WGU’s online programs allow current RNs to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degree while working. This degree can set you apart from the competition, and help you land your dream travel nurse position. Similarly, WGU offers licensure for RNs along with a bachelor’s degree in some states.

Additionally, you will also have to reach out to travel nurse agencies like American Traveler or Aya Healthcare to begin working as a travel nurse. There are many reputable options, and it's important to research ones near you to ensure you're picking a high quality company.

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: offered in FL, IN, TX, MO, and UT only.
  • Tuition and fees: $6,575 per 6-month term.

WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.

If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing – Leadership and Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,385 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
    Chief Nursing Officer
    Quality Director
    Clinical Nurse Leader
    Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality.

Compare degrees
This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking...

An online BSN degree program for registered...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 66% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Transfers: On average, students transfer 81 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership and Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for greater responsibility:

  • Time: 82% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,385 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
    Chief Nursing Officer
    Quality Director
    Clinical Nurse Leader
    Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

Next Start Date

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!

Apply Today

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Learn about online college admissions at WGU.


What Skills Does a Travel Nurse Need?

All travel nurses will need to have current licensure and nursing skills in order to get a job. But travel nurses also need other skills to help them succeed. Those skills include:

  • Emotional intelligence. Travel nurses have to be able to give bad news to people, and help them cope.
  • Critical thinking. Nurses of all kinds deal with complex problems and need to find solutions.
  • Flexibility. Travel nurses especially need to be flexible to work different hours, move to new places quickly, and more.
  • Adaptability. Travel nurses are in new hospitals and clinics all the time. They must be able to adapt to their new circumstances quickly and effectively.
  • Strong communication skills. Travel nurses need to be able to communicate well to patients, and to be able to ask questions when needed.
  • Love of traveling. It may seem like a no brainer, but traveling nurses will be traveling a lot! So a love of travel and a sense of adventure is a must.

How Much Does a Travel Nurse Make?

$71,000

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN salary is $71,000 per year. But a travel nurse salary is likely to be more than this, due to their high demand. It’s best to look at a travel nurse salary per state to help you calculate exactly what you can expect your travel nurse salary to be, based on your assignment, the hospital or nursing clinic, and more. And again, travel nurses can have other monetary benefits as part of their job with subsidized housing, travel reimbursements, and bonuses. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

15%

According to HealthProvidersChoice, registered nurse employment is expected to grow 15% by 2026, far faster than most other occupations. Travel nursing is expected to rise as part of that outlook as well. Travel nurses have the ability to relocate to regions in great need of nurses, allowing the projected job growth to rise for this industry.

Where Do Travel Nurses Work?

Varies

Nurses can travel within the U.S. or internationally, just depending on the need and the job. Travel nursing provides a unique opportunity to work while visiting cities, states, or even countries that one would not get to usually work in.

Interested in Becoming a Travel Nurse?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

View degree programs