How to Become a Travel Nurse in 4 Steps

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Travel nursing can be an excellent career choice for nurses with a passion for exploring new places. The steps for how to become a travel nurse include earning a BSN, passing the NCLEX, getting professional experience locally and then connecting with a travel nursing agency.

Averett ABSN student walking outside with backpack

Considering a career as a travel nurse? If you have an interest in caring for patients and you’re passionate about exploring new places, travel nursing can be an excellent option. The path of how to become a travel nurse starts with earning your degree. Averett University’s 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program will help you start your career sooner.

In this blog, you’ll learn the steps of how to become a travel nurse and the travel nurse requirements that will set you up for this exciting career.

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Travel nursing has been talked about a lot recently, especially since the need for travel nurses increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. But how does travel nursing work? Travel nurses are RNs who work short-term at hospitals and health care facilities, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.

Employers hire travel nurses to fill in when they’re short on nurses, such as when the patient census is high or a nurse is out on maternity leave. In addition, certain specialties have a particularly high demand for travel nurses, such as emergency nursing, critical care nursing, and labor and delivery nursing.

Travel nurses secure their positions through travel nursing agencies, and they can choose from locations across the country. If you have an explorer’s heart and you are in a position to move frequently, travel nursing may be a perfect fit for you.

Why Become a Travel Nurse?

As with any specialty, travel nursing offers both positives and negatives. As you decide whether it’s right for you, think about whether the benefits outweigh the challenge of frequently moving for work.

nurse packing the back of her car

The advantages of travel nursing include:

  • Excellent professional experience for your resume.
  • Ability to explore many cities and hospitals before settling in one place.
  • Excellent pay rate.
  • Additional benefits, such as travel and housing stipends, health insurance, 401(k) contributions and education assistance.
  • Flexible schedule with the ability to take vacations between contracts.

4 Steps to Become a Travel Nurse

Here’s the process for how to become a travel nurse, starting with earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing:

1. Earn a BSN Degree

Going to nursing school is the first step of how to become a travel nurse. While some people choose to earn an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree is ideal because it offers more opportunities, better job stability and higher pay.

nurse working with lab equipment

Learn more about the advantages of a BSN for your nursing career.

The Accelerated BSN program at Averett in Norfolk, Virginia, allows students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits to earn their BSN sooner. By leveraging your past college experience, you can jump right into the intensive nursing curriculum of an accelerated program. Averett also offers three start dates per year, in January, May and August, so you won’t need to wait long before starting school.

Getting through accelerated nursing school can be a challenge. The ABSN is a demanding program comprising online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations. However, Averett is committed to your success, and our faculty will provide the support and resources you need to achieve your goal of becoming a nurse.

Averett ABSN student in classroom

Need some tips for how to succeed in nursing school? Follow these 10 pieces of advice from our students.

2. Pass the NCLEX and Get Licensed

After finishing nursing school with your degree, the next step to becoming a travel nurse is to earn your license from the board of nursing in the state where you’ll practice. The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) is a challenging exam; it’ll take time and dedication to succeed.
Thankfully the Averett ABSN program focuses on preparing you for the exam from the first semester. However, you’ll also need to dedicate individual time to studying and answering practice questions leading up to test day.

Once you pass the NCLEX and meet any other requirements for your state, you’ll be eligible to receive your registered nurse (RN) license.

3. Gain Professional Nursing Experience

With your BSN and an RN license in hand, you’ll need to gain some professional nursing experience before applying for a job with a travel nursing agency. Most travel nursing positions prefer at least two years of professional nursing experience in your specialty.

This work experience is one of the vital travel nurse requirements because in this role, you’ll have brief orientation periods, and you’ll need to jump quickly into your new role. Doing this with ease requires you to have strong nursing skills and be well-versed in your specialty.

Averett nursing student working with sim manikin

Nursing school clinicals are your first exposure to caring for real patients. Use these tips to help you succeed in clinicals.

4. Connect with a Travel Nursing Agency

The last step to becoming a travel nurse is researching the best travel nursing agencies and contacting their agents. The agent will help you throughout the application process and make the process seamless on your end. Additionally, if you stay with the same agency for another travel nursing position later on, the process will be even easier the second time around.

As you work with a travel nursing agent to apply for positions, prepare to provide them with your resume and references. You’ll also likely have a phone or video interview with the hiring manager before being chosen for a travel nursing role.

Begin Your Nursing Journey at Averett!

As you prepare for a career as a nurse, Averett University’s ABSN program can help you begin. Our program offers three start dates per year, allowing you to begin school sooner. If you have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits, you’re well on your way to making a fast transition to nursing through our accelerated program.

ABSN student smiling outside

The ABSN program will equip you to be a well-rounded and skilled nurse through our online courses, onsite labs, and clinicals. By the end of it, you’ll be ready to sit for the NCLEX exam. Then you’ll be onto pursuing the nursing specialty of your dreams, whether that’s travel nursing or something else!

To learn more about the ABSN program at Averett and see if you’re eligible, reach out to our admissions counselors today by filling out our online form.