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How to Become a Travel Nurse

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

To become a Traveling Nurse, either an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required. It's also required to become licensed. This can be done by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

Those looking to pursue a medical career path while exploring the country may consider travel nursing an ideal role. Some of the reasons for choosing to work as a travel nurse may include:

  • Learning a unique body of nursing knowledge and skill sets based on new environments.
  • Employing the use of epidemiology, tropical medicine, vaccinology, public health and health education
  • Working in a variety of employment settings like travel health clinics, hospitals, college health, occupational health, military, government, ambulatory care, pediatric and public health.1

Whatever the reason may be, similar to any nursing position, being a travel nurse calls for particular qualities, education and experience.

Skills and Characteristics

Key physical traits and personality characteristics that enable nurses to flourish in frequently changing environments, such as in travel nursing, include critical-thinking and communication. Furthermore, they should be able to stay organized and detail-oriented while problem-solving and juggling multiple assignments. A nurse may also find that compassion and emotional stability helps them care for patients and stay resilient when coping with human suffering and other stresses. Additionally, high stamina can assist nurses in performing demanding physical tasks and constantly being on the move.2

Required Education

While a diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing might fit the minimum education prerequisite for many nursing positions, some employers may require registered nurses (RNs), in general, to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Furthermore, all nursing students must go through a period of supervised clinical work before they can go on to take the examinations and certifications required to become a registered nurse.2

Certifications and Licenses

After earning a degree or diploma in nursing, prospective RNs need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). In addition, all nurses must be licensed by the state in which they work.2 A cooperative effort called the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) makes travel nursing easier for professionals licensed in 25 states. The NLC allows nurses with multistate licenses to practice physically in their home state and other original NLC states. For example, if a nurse is certified in Missouri, an NLC licensing state, and decides to begin travel nursing, they can request a multistate license.3

Travel nursing is a developing specialty not yet recognized by the American Nurses Association, so there is no formal course training offered at any U.S. school of nursing to become a travel nurse. However, continuing education programs and conferences are available throughout the country and around the world.1

Job Market for Travel Nurses

Finding an agency that specializes in travel nursing may seem like a formidable task because there could be countless avenues to pursue. Luckily, resources such as Travel Nursing Central (TNC) lists and ranks over 300 travel nurse agencies. In addition, TNC provides annual ratings based on reviews from working travel nurses.4 On TNC's website, nurses can find review comments and details such as the number of reviews written and how each agency scores. The TNC website lists these agencies in numeric score — a perfect rating being 100. Overall, the site may be valuable in providing information that nurses can use to identify which travel agency suits them best.6 Other online resources are available through the American Travel Health Nurses Association (ATHNA) such as useful travel health and other information that nurses can use to find support and identify current vaccine and travel health materials.5

The job outlook for registered nurses, in general, is projected to have a much faster than average growth than other careers with the average rate for all occupations being 7%. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of RNs is projected to increase by 16% through 2024.6

What to Expect on a Day-to-Day Basis

Open communication between a nurse and a prospective travel company can be beneficial. Throughout all stages of the hiring process, such as interviews, contract negotiations and accepting an assignment, travel nurses should dialogue with their agency regularly in order to effectively prepare for their next adventures.7

Traveling nurses tend to find numerous positions in emergency units, various adult intensive care units, medical-surgical floors and telemetry units.7 Daily job duties depend on earned credentials and the assignment itself. Whether specialized or not, working as a travel nurse may offer unique benefits and the satisfaction that comes with a career in the health care industry.

Earn a Bachelor’s in Nursing at CTU

Colorado Technical University (CTU) offers a bachelor’s and master-level degree program in nursing. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (, Learn more about CTU’s nursing degree programs.

1. "Travel Health Nursing Fact Sheet." Retrieved from: (Visited 6/29/17).
2. "How to Become a Registered Nurse." Retrieved from: (Visited 6/29/17).
3. "Nurse Licensure Compact." Retrieved from: (Visited 11/21/16).
4. “Travel Nurse Agency Ranking Results.” Retrieved from: (Visited 6/29/17).
5. “Internet Based Travel Resources.” Retrieved from: (Visited 6/29/17).
6. “Registered Nurses: Summary.” Retrieved from: (Visited 6/29/17). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
7. “Becoming a Traveler” Retrieved from: (Visited 7/20/17).

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
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