How to Get a Job as a Travel Nurse



Ready for an adventure like no other in the world of healthcare? 

Picture this: you, a passionate nurse, taking your skills on a journey to vibrant destinations, from the bustling streets of New York City to the sun-soaked shores of Miami. 

But hey, what's a travel nurse, and how can you be part of this incredible ride? 

In this blog, we're diving deep into the world of travel nursing, from nailing the perfect travel nurse cover letter to uncovering the hottest cities for travel nurses in 2023. 

Whether you're a fresh grad RN or a seasoned pro, get ready for a career that's not just flexible but downright amazing. 

So, grab your stethoscope and your wanderlust, because your adventure in travel nursing starts right here! 🌍🏥💼

What is a Travel Nurse? 

In the dynamic world of healthcare, travel nurses play a crucial role. 

They're like the adventurers of the healthcare field, taking exciting journeys that let them combine their love for nursing with their passion for exploring new places. 

But what's a travel nurse, and how are they different from regular nurses who work in one place? 

Let's break it down.

Definition and Role of a Travel Nurse

A travel nurse is a healthcare professional, either a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN), who's up for thrilling temporary nursing adventures in different places. 

These assignments usually last between 13 to 26 weeks, and they can take place in various healthcare spots like hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities. 

Generally, these places have a nursing shortage and hire travel nurses to fill in the gaps.

That being said, one of the biggest perks of travel nursing is its flexibility

Travel nurses have the freedom to choose when and where they want to work. This flexibility allows them to tailor their career to fit their lifestyle, whether it's taking a break to travel the world or gaining experience in a specific healthcare specialty.

Plus, unlike permanent nursing positions, travel nursing contracts are short-term, making them an attractive option for those who want to gain diverse clinical experience without a long-term commitment.

Sounds cool, right?

Let’s get into why travel nursing has become so popular.

Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse

Adventure and Exploration: Travel nurses get to explore new cities, states, and even countries while doing what they love. It's an opportunity to immerse oneself in different cultures and lifestyles.

Competitive Compensation: Travel nurses are typically well-compensated for their work. The average salary in the US is $105,021 according to ZipRecruiter. In addition to competitive base salaries, they often receive benefits such as housing allowances, travel stipends, and healthcare coverage.

Skill Enhancement: Travel nursing assignments expose nurses to a wide range of clinical settings and patient populations, helping them enhance their skills and adaptability. This makes them highly sought after by employers.

Networking: Travel nurses have the chance to build a vast network of healthcare professionals across the country. These connections can open doors to future opportunities and collaborations.

Challenges and Responsibilities

Adaptability: While the adventure is exhilarating, it can also be challenging. Travel nurses must quickly adapt to new hospital systems, protocols, and coworkers with each assignment.

Licensing and Certification: Travel nurses must ensure they meet licensing and certification requirements in each state they work in, which can involve paperwork and fees.

Emotional Toll: Being away from home and loved ones for extended periods can take an emotional toll on travel nurses. They must develop strong coping mechanisms and support systems.

Patient Care: Regardless of their temporary status, travel nurses are expected to provide the same level of high-quality care as permanent staff. They often step into critical roles and must be quick learners.

Preparing for Your Travel Nursing Journey 

Sold on becoming a travel nurse?

Just like any career, it requires some thorough preparation to be successful.

The cool thing is, it doesn’t matter which age you decide to start. According to this survey, the average age of a travel nurse in the US is 44.


So, whether you're a seasoned RN or a recent nursing graduate, it’s never too late to start!

Here are some things you’ll need to have in order to get started:

Educational Requirements and Certifications

RN or LPN Licensure: The foundation of your travel nursing career is your nursing license. Ensure you have the appropriate state licensure to practice as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). Licensure requirements vary by state, so it's essential to research and fulfill the specific criteria for your intended work locations.

Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification: Most healthcare facilities require travel nurses to have a current BLS certification. This certification ensures you are trained in life-saving techniques such as CPR.

Advanced Certifications: Depending on your specialty or desired assignments, you may benefit from additional certifications such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). These certifications can enhance your qualifications and make you more competitive in the job market.

Building a Strong Resume for Travel Nursing

Highlight Relevant Experience: Tailor your resume to emphasize experience that's relevant to travel nursing. Include details about your previous nursing positions, any specialties you've worked in, and the skills you've developed. Use ResumAI to help you create targeted bullet points.

Demonstrate Adaptability: Travel nurses need to demonstrate adaptability and quick learning. Highlight experiences where you've had to adapt to new environments or procedures.

Education and Training: List your educational background, including the nursing program you attended and any honors or awards you received. Also, mention any specialized training or continuing education courses.

Professional References: Prepare a list of professional references who can vouch for your nursing skills and work ethic. These references can be invaluable during the job application process.

READ MORE: How ResumAI Can Help You Create Bullet Points

Crafting an Effective Travel Nurse Cover Letter

Personalize Your Cover Letter: Customize your cover letter for each job application. Address the hiring manager by name if possible and explain why you're interested in that particular position and location.

Highlight Your Motivation: Express your enthusiasm for travel nursing and your commitment to providing exceptional patient care. Share your passion for exploring new places and meeting diverse patient populations. If you ever get stuck on how to word something, use CoverLetterAI to help you create your travel nurse cover letter. 

Address Potential Concerns: If you're a new graduate or switching specialties, address any potential concerns in your cover letter. Emphasize your willingness to learn and your dedication to patient safety.

Keep it Concise: A well-structured, concise cover letter is more likely to make a positive impression. Aim to communicate your qualifications and motivation in a clear and compelling manner.

READ MORE: How CoverLetterAI Can Help

Finding Your First Travel Nursing Assignment 

Now that you’ve got a solid resume and cover letter started, it’s time to research some travel nursing assignments.

Tips for New Grad RN Travel Nurses

Gain Clinical Experience: While travel nursing is open to new graduates, it's beneficial to work in a hospital or healthcare setting for at least a year before considering travel nursing. This experience helps you build a strong foundation of nursing skills and confidence.

Narrow Down Your Interests: Identify your areas of interest within nursing. Are you drawn to pediatrics, cardiac care, emergency medicine, or another specialty? Knowing your preferences will help you target assignments that align with your goals.

Research Agencies: Start researching travel nursing agencies. Look for agencies with a good reputation, solid connections with healthcare facilities, and a track record of placing new grad RNs in suitable assignments.

These are some examples to get started:

Exploring Different Specialties (Pediatrics, Cardiac, ER)

Pediatrics Travel Nurse: If you have a passion for working with children, consider pursuing assignments in pediatric units or pediatric hospitals. Pediatrics travel nurses play a crucial role in caring for young patients and their families.

Cardiac Travel Nurse: Cardiac nursing is in high demand, and travel nurses with expertise in cardiac care are sought after. These nurses work in cardiology units, assisting patients with heart conditions and procedures.

ER Travel Nurse: Emergency room (ER) travel nurses are often the first responders to critical situations. They must be skilled in rapid assessment and delivering immediate care. ER assignments can be intense but incredibly rewarding.

How to Stand Out in the Competitive Job Market

Complete Additional Certifications: Earning additional certifications relevant to your chosen specialty can set you apart. For example, becoming a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) or Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) can enhance your qualifications.

Build a Strong Portfolio: Create a professional portfolio that showcases your education, certifications, and past nursing experiences. Include letters of recommendation, awards, and any unique skills or accomplishments.

Network with Fellow Nurses: Connect with other travel nurses and experienced professionals in your desired specialty. Use NetworkAI to send personalized connection messages on LinkedIn. Attend nursing conferences or join online forums and social media groups to exchange advice and gain insights.

Flexibility and Willingness to Relocate: Being open to various locations and assignments increases your chances of finding your first travel nursing job. Think about less popular destinations to kickstart your travel nursing career.

Prepare for Interviews: Practice your interview skills, especially for phone or video interviews. Be ready to discuss your clinical experience, adaptability, and why you're interested in travel nursing.

The Application Process 

Once you've prepared yourself educationally and professionally, the next step is the application process, which is sometimes the most time consuming.

This stage involves several steps, from searching for job opportunities to successfully securing your desired assignment.

To save time looking for opportunities and applying, try out AutoApplyAI.

Applying for Travel Nurse Positions

Job Search: Start by researching travel nursing job opportunities through reputable agencies, hospital websites, or online job boards specialized in healthcare. Ensure that the assignments align with your preferences, such as specialty, location, and contract duration.

Submit Your Application: Most agencies and healthcare facilities have online application portals where you can submit your application, resume, and cover letter. Ensure that your application materials are accurate, up-to-date, and tailored to the specific job you're applying for.

Document Submission: Be prepared to provide essential documents, including copies of your nursing license, certifications, immunization records, and professional references. Keep these documents organized and easily accessible.

Navigating Interviews and Reference Checks

Interview Preparation: If your application is successful, you'll likely be invited for an interview. Prepare for the interview by reviewing your resume, researching the facility, and practicing answers to common interview questions. Be ready to discuss your nursing experience, adaptability, and why you're interested in travel nursing.

Reference Checks: Expect potential employers or agencies to conduct reference checks to verify your qualifications and work history. Notify your references in advance, ensuring they are available and willing to provide positive feedback on your behalf.

Clinical Skills Assessment: Some employers may require a skills assessment as part of the interview process. This could involve written tests, hands-on skills evaluations, or both, depending on the position and facility.

READ MORE: How to Answer These 10 Short Answer Interview Questions

Choosing the Right Agency or Hospital

Research Agencies: If you're working with a travel nursing agency, conduct thorough research to ensure they are reputable, experienced, and have a strong track record of placing nurses in suitable assignments. Read reviews and speak with current or former travelers if possible.

Contract Review: Before accepting an assignment, carefully review the terms of the contract. Pay attention to compensation, benefits, housing arrangements, and any specific expectations or requirements for the position.

Communication: Maintain clear and open communication with your agency or potential employer throughout the application process. Ask questions, seek clarification, and ensure you have a full understanding of the assignment before committing.

Licensing and Credentialing Assistance: Many agencies provide assistance with obtaining state licenses and completing credentialing requirements. Utilize these resources to streamline the process.

Flexibility: Flexibility is key to a successful travel nursing career. Be open to various assignment locations and durations to increase your chances of securing the right opportunity.

Top Cities for Travel Nurses in 2023 

Is the Big Apple calling you?

Or do you love the great outdoors?

Choosing the right location for your travel nursing assignment can have a big impact on your well-being. So make sure to choose a place that’s right for you!

And, hey, if you don’t like it, you can always try something new in a few months.

From East Coast to West Coast, here are some of the top cities for travel nurses to consider in 2023:

New York City, New York

High Demand: New York City consistently has a high demand for healthcare professionals. Hospitals in the city are often looking for travel nurses to fill staffing gaps.

Diverse Patient Population: Working in NYC exposes you to a diverse patient population and a wide range of medical conditions, providing valuable experience.

Cultural Attractions: Beyond the hospital, NYC offers an incredible array of cultural attractions, entertainment options, and dining experiences.

Los Angeles, California

Variety of Facilities: Los Angeles boasts a wide variety of healthcare facilities, from large academic medical centers to community hospitals. This diversity allows travel nurses to explore different nursing environments.

Mild Climate: The city's mild climate is a significant draw for those who prefer warmer weather, and it offers plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Entertainment Capital: L.A. is known as the entertainment capital of the world, making it a great place for those who enjoy cultural events, concerts, and the arts.

Seattle, Washington

Innovative Healthcare: Seattle is home to several renowned medical institutions known for their innovation and research, providing travel nurses with opportunities to work in cutting-edge healthcare settings.

Natural Beauty: Surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, forests, and waterways, Seattle offers ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Tech Hub: Seattle's growing technology sector creates demand for healthcare services, particularly in areas like telemedicine and digital health.

Austin, Texas

Thriving Healthcare Scene: Austin has a thriving healthcare scene, with a growing number of hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Cultural Vibrancy: Known for its live music, food, and cultural festivals, Austin offers a vibrant and unique cultural experience for travel nurses.

Cost of Living: The cost of living in Austin is relatively lower compared to some major cities, allowing travel nurses to maximize their earnings.

Chicago, Illinois

Rich Healthcare Landscape: Chicago has a rich healthcare landscape with world-class medical centers, research institutions, and teaching hospitals.

Urban Experience: Travel nurses in Chicago can enjoy the urban experience, including diverse neighborhoods, renowned restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Seasonal Variety: Experience all four seasons in Chicago, each offering a different perspective on the city and its activities.

Miami, Florida

Sunshine State: Miami's sunny climate is a major draw, making it a popular destination for travel nurses seeking warm weather year-round.

Diverse Patient Mix: Miami's diverse population means that travel nurses will encounter a wide range of patient demographics and medical conditions.

Beaches and Recreation: Enjoy the beautiful beaches and a plethora of outdoor recreational activities during your time off.

Navigating Your First Travel Nurse Assignment 

You got an offer and accepted!


Now it’s time to dive into your first travel nursing assignment.

Here are some tips to help you be successful:

Tips for a Successful Start

Orientation and Onboarding: Take full advantage of the orientation and onboarding process provided by the facility. It's essential to become familiar with the hospital's policies, procedures, and technology.

Ask Questions: Don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure about anything. It's better to seek clarification than to make assumptions that could lead to errors.

Be Flexible: Flexibility is one of the key attributes of a successful travel nurse. Be open to different ways of doing things and adapt to the facility's routines and workflows.

Introduce Yourself: Make an effort to introduce yourself to your colleagues, including nurses, physicians, and support staff. Building positive relationships with your new team is crucial.

Adjusting to New Environments and Teams

Cultural Sensitivity: Healthcare facilities can have unique cultures and dynamics. Be culturally sensitive and respectful of the local environment, patient population, and coworkers.

Communication: Effective communication is vital. Clearly communicate your availability, schedule, and any concerns to your charge nurse or manager. Maintain open lines of communication with your agency if you encounter any challenges.

Team Collaboration: Work collaboratively with the healthcare team. Nurses, physicians, and other professionals value teamwork and appreciate colleagues who can contribute to a positive and efficient work environment.

Patient-Centered Care: Always prioritize patient-centered care. Focus on delivering high-quality care, addressing patient needs and concerns, and ensuring their safety and comfort.

Handling Challenges on the Job

Stress Management: Travel nursing assignments can be demanding. Develop effective stress management techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, or seeking support from your fellow travelers.

Adaptability: As a travel nurse, you'll encounter various challenges and clinical scenarios. Embrace these as opportunities for growth and learning. Be prepared to adapt to different patient populations and healthcare settings.

Professional Development: Continue your professional development by seeking opportunities for additional training or certifications. Staying up-to-date with the latest healthcare practices will enhance your career prospects.

Agency Support: If you encounter difficulties during your assignment, reach out to your travel nursing agency for support. They can provide guidance and assistance in resolving issues.

Documentation: Accurate and timely documentation is crucial in nursing. Ensure that you maintain thorough and organized patient records to comply with facility protocols.


As we bring this thrilling adventure through the world of travel nursing to a close, it's abundantly clear that this career path is a treasure trove of possibilities. 

From crafting that flawless travel nurse cover letter to uncovering the hottest cities for travel nurses in 2023, you've gathered the tools for an incredible journey. The flexibility, the diverse experiences, and the potential for personal and professional growth are all at your fingertips.

Whether you're an experienced nurse seeking a change of scenery or a recent graduate with an insatiable curiosity, remember this: the world of travel nursing is your canvas. Your adventure is just beginning, and the horizons are limitless. So, pack your bags, stethoscope in tow, and get ready to make an impact, one assignment at a time.

Here's to the flourishing adventure that is your travel nursing career! 🌟🌏🏥

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