Step By Step Guide to Becoming a Travel Nurse
Travel nursing is one of the best careers, you can see the world, have flexibility in your career, and be well compensated. It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start in the process of making this dream a reality. We’ve broken down step by step what it takes to become a travel nurse. Let’s dive in!
- Attend Nursing School
This is the very first step towards becoming a travel nurse. You have a couple routes to earn your degree. You can get a 2 year associate degree or a 4 year bachelors degree. Either way you can sit for your NCLEX examination and become a Registered Nurse. Though it is not necessary, pursuing your bachelors degree can make you more marketable. Some hospitals are requiring nurses to obtain their BSN within a certain number of years after hire.
- Get 1-2 Years Experience in Your Specialty
only one year experience, I highly recommend waiting until two years. As a travel nurse you are expected to operate independently on very little orientation in a new hospital. You should be confident enough in your skills that you are viewed as a major resource on your unit. In the end it is up to you when you feel comfortable to travel but keep in mind it is your nursing license and patients lives on the line.
- Contact A Recruiter
Once you have your experience, you should start reaching out to recruiters. Your recruiter is your liaison and advocate when you are working with a hospital on a contract. They will be your guide, especially when first starting as a travel nurse. I would advise finding a recommendation for a recruiter over blindly submitting to companies. If you are looking for a recruiter, don’t hesitate to reach out, I highly recommend my recruiter!
- Obtain a Nursing License for the State You’re Traveling To
You will need to obtain a nursing license to practice there if you want to work in another state. If you are lucky enough to live in a Compact NLC state, you can practice in any other compact state without obtaining a new license. If not, you will have to apply for a license by endorsement. Every state has a different process and requirements can be found on each states board of nursing website. Your travel nurse company should reimburse you for the cost of your license when you sign a contract with them.
- Submit For an Travel Nursing Assignment
This is is an exciting step but it can also be stressful. Contracts move FAST especially in the current market. Your recruiter should provide you with a list of open contracts that match your preferences. Look over the list and decide which contracts sound appealing to you. It’s best to submit for a few contracts at a time in case positions get filled. If you submit for an assignment, you should expect to accept the assignment barring any unforseen issues with your contract. This means you will want to research the hospital and look at housing options before submitting.
After submitting for assignments, you will wait to hear back from the hospitals. Each hospital interviews differently, some give auto offers without an interview, some have pre-recorded voice-mail interviews, and some have formal phone interviews. If you have a formal phone interview, this is your chance to ask any questions of the hospital. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you!
- Negotiate and Sign Your Contract
If the hospital wants to move forward after your interview, you will receive an offer. Should you verbally accept, you will get a contract to sign. Your contract should have stipulations about any requested time off you have, how often you can be called off without pay, your weekly stipend, your base pay, and your overtime rate. You may not have much room for negotiation in pay but you should make sure that your stipends are maxed out. For more information on how your pay package works, check out this post. Also calculate your blended rate to make sure your overtime rate is worth it. I have been able to negotiate for a higher overtime rate in the past, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
- Travel to Your Assignment and Complete Your First Contract!
After signing your contract, you will travel to your new city, find housing, and begin working. This is your time to learn new things, explore your new home base, and make money! You put in the effort and made the leap, now soak it in! Feel free the reach out with any questions, I am happy to be a resource!