Allied & Travel Nursing Jobs
And when you’re done scoping out possible gigs, we’ll give you the inside scoop on how much they rock. Or don’t. Because we’re always upfront with the low down.
Travel Nurse Jobs + You = a Great Career
How many times have you heard people say they want to travel when they retire? That’s great and all, but why wait? If you’re a nurse, you have a unique opportunity to travel, while still earning a great living, working as a travel nurse. Not many other professions can say that.
Travel nurses hop around the country, filling in for hospitals that have a staffing shortage. Most assignments last around 13 weeks, in warm and cold climates, as well as urban and rural communities. If you’ve ever wanted to check out a small town or live in a major city, now’s your chance. But, how do you get started and find travel contracts in nursing?
Preparing For Travel Nursing Jobs
Unlike some positions, you can’t just decide to be a travel nurse and start the next day. Obviously, you’ll first need to be a licensed RN. This means that you’ll need to go through an accredited nursing school and graduate. People studying to be a nurse have a couple different options and each one comes with a definite benefit. In some states, nurses are only required to have an associate’s degree, which means they can be done with their education in a shorter amount of time. In other states, nurses are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which means that school will take longer. But that doesn’t mean you’re done once you have your degree.
You’ll then need to study for and pass the NCLEX exam. This is a standard test that every RN across the country needs to take before they can become a nurse. Most new graduates take the NCLEX exam within 45 days of graduating and spend the time immediately after graduation studying. It can take up to six weeks to get your results, but some states allow the testing center to release unofficial quick results, giving you a little insight into whether you’ve passed.
After you’ve received official notice that you’ve passed the NCLEX, you can apply for a state license. Nurse license requirements can vary by state, but we have a list of each state’s contact information here.
After you have your nursing license, you need a job. While most people want to dive right into traveling nurse jobs, hold up. Before you can get a contract as a traveler, you’re going to need some experience. Travelers need to be able to dive right into their positions at a new facility, which means they don’t get much orientation. New grads often don’t realize just how much they continue to learn while they’re new in their career.
Travelers need to have at least two years of recent experience in their specialty. If you’re a peds nurse, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to go right into ICU or another specialty. If you have less than two years of experience, you can start a conversation with a recruiter, but most likely you’ll need to wait until you have two years under your belt to actually find a position.
Choosing an Agency with Traveling Nurse Contracts
So, you’ve decided to take the travel nursing plunge. Now, how the heck do you start?
The first thing you should do is find agencies with an established track record with plenty of travel RN jobs. Then, start a conversation with a few recruiters. Most travel nurses work with recruiters from a couple different agencies to make sure they find one that they mesh with—don’t be afraid to have more than one company on your hook. If a recruiter tries to get you to sign an exclusivity clause or badgers you about working with other companies, take this as a sign that you should run. Also, if you don’t mesh with a specific recruiter, but like the agency, talk to his or her manager about finding a new one—most companies understand that personalities need to be a fit and won’t have any issue matching you with a new recruiter.
Finding Travel Nursing Contracts
Once you’ve got a recruiter you click with, it’s their job to find you a job! They should be willing to have a conversation about your needs and wants—not just a facility’s. Although everyone likes to communicate electronically via email or text message, there’s a real benefit to scheduling a phone call. With a 10-15 minute phone call, you can knock out all your requests and requirements for any travel nurse jobs you’re interested in, rather than spending hours going back and forth via text message or email.
Let’s say you want to go to Hawaii (P.S. everyone wants to go to Hawaii). Did you know that Hawaii travel nurse jobs pay much lower than RN travel jobs in other locations? A good recruiter finds out what you want out of that Hawaii assignment (beaches, hiking, history) and can send you other assignments that might fit those needs but pay a little more if Hawaii pay doesn’t meet your needs. You might still decide to go to Hawaii, but at least you have all the info you need to make an informed decision.
If you’re not sure where you want to go, give your recruiter a couple options, but tell them that you’re open to any traveling nurse contracts. While most traveling nurse contracts are 13 weeks, it’s possible to find facilities that need something as short as 4 week travel nurse assignments. If you’re open to something shorter, let your recruiter know because they might just have something that’s hard to fill.
Travel Nurse Salary & the Highest Paying Travel Nursing Jobs
One of the biggest questions is how much do travel nurses get paid. It’s a valid question—you shouldn’t work for free!
It’s well known throughout the industry that travel nurses get paid more than staff nurses, but why is that? The answer is simple: a travel nurse salary includes a higher hourly rate to help make up for the fact that travel nurses typically only stay in a location for 13 weeks at a time. Travelers also receive stipends for housing and meals, which boosts their paychecks. These tax-free stipends exist because travel nurses usually have two households—the one in their home state and the one in their travel location. Those people at the IRS call these duplicate expenses.
The best part about travel nurse salary? Travel nurses are typically paid weekly, starting in the second week of their assignment. Weekly pay and a higher rate? Cha. Ching.
Travel Nurse Housing
Remember that travel nurse housing stipend we talked about? You have lots of options on how you spend it. Most people choose to find themselves an Airbnb or VRBO to stay in for the 13 week assignment. However, your travel nurse recruiter should be there to help if you want your agency to find you a room—it’s all up to you and how you want to handle it. Some nurses ask for help with their first assignment and then arrange their own housing after they have a little experience.
One tip to all travel nurses when looking for housing—consider staying in a hotel for your first couple days or even a week before you sign a contract for the entire assignment. This will help you get a feel for the area before being locked into a rental contract. The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a contract in an area you hate or one that seemed close to work on a map but actually takes forever to drive there.
What Happens When Travel Nurse Contracts Are Done?
This is totally up to you. Part of the beauty of being a healthcare traveler is that you get to choose what you want to do once your contract is over. Some people choose to extend their travel contracts in nursing, which means they stay where they are and continue working for the same facility. Others want to go somewhere new. Still others decide that they want to take some time off in between assignments, especially around the holidays or in the summer months.
No matter what you want to do once your travel nurse contracts are over, start communicating with your recruiter at least a few weeks before your contract ends. This means they’ll be able to start the search or check with the hospital about the possibility of extending. If you’re interested in extending, but still want to take a week or two off between assignments, let your recruiter know that too. Many facilities are willing to give you a break, especially if they know you’ll be able to dive right in without any orientation time when you come back.
If you are planning on an extended vacation between travel RN jobs, make sure to think about insurance benefits, especially if you’re covered by your agency. At Triage, you can keep your benefits active if you start a new assignment within 26 days. Your insurance coverage will remain active, yet you’ll be responsible for paying back premiums with your first couple paychecks of your new assignment.
Another option if you take an extended vacation is COBRA coverage. This keeps your Triage insurance on by allowing you to pay for the premiums in full. If you’re ending your travel nurse jobs and not taking a new one, the Triage Benefits department can help you with COBRA coverage. One thing to note though—COBRA comes with a lot of government regulations so you’ll need to wait until your assignment actually ends before you can sign up. This is a government rule, not Triage’s!
If all this sounds like it’s up your alley, we’d love to start a conversation. Getting connected with a recruiter is easy, you can use our Quick Apply application and a recruiter will be in touch. Otherwise browse our travel RN jobs to find one that you’re interested in.