How Many Assignments Do Travel Nurses Take Each Year?
For many people, a career involves working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for 52 weeks of the year. But for travel nurses, the concept of a full-time career can vary dramatically from nurse to nurse. The foundation of travel nursing involves 13-week assignments, which means there’s more freedom to be selective. Many travel nurses quickly realize an opportunity to define their own full-time career in terms that make sense to them. It’s all about finding balance.
Travel nursing is flexible by design
The standard travel nurse assignment lasts 13 weeks in a single location. If a travel nurse works assignments back-to-back, they can take on about four full-time assignments each year.
That said, travel nurses might find some variability in assignments. Short-term crisis placements might last only eight weeks, while extended assignments might last up to 26 weeks. Contracts also can ebb and flow based on census and need. You might sign up for a 13-week assignment, only to have your contract ended early due to low census. In these kinds of situations, a travel nurse might take more than four assignments in a given year.
Working back-to-back assignments isn’t mandatory as a travel nurse. Indeed, nurses can take advantage of this assignment flexibility to adjust their workload. At the end of the day, you have total control over how much and when you work.
Sensing the schedule that works for you
As you begin to take assignments and discover your needs and wants in the field, you’ll develop a greater sense of the kind of schedule that works best for you. There are opportunities for breaks if you need time to decompress.
Consider these examples of travel nurse assignment schedules:
- Four 13-week assignments, back-to-back with no breaks
- A pattern of one 13-week assignment, followed by a four-week break
- Three 13-week assignments back-to-back, followed by a 13-week break
- Two 13-week assignments back-to-back, with the rest of the year off
- One or two 13-week assignments throughout the year with long breaks between
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Travel nurses have a lot of flexibility in how often they take assignments.
Travel nurses should aim to strike a balance
Remember that every assignment will have its own unique stipulations. For example, some might pay more or have more hours per week, while others might have more advanced job duties or more intense requirements.
Since travel nursing assignments can vary so wildly, nurses have plentiful options to choose from when building their career. Some nurses choose the highest-paying assignments to maximize their earnings, while others try to strike a balance between job intensity and pay.
The number of assignments you take each year will ultimately come down to your priorities and motivations as a travel nurse. You have the power to decide what’s most important to you. Do you want to earn as much as possible over the course of the year? Do you want to find travel assignments in bucket-list destinations? The choice is yours.