Understanding All the Educational Requirements To Become a Travel Nurse
As the demand for healthcare professionals continues to rise, travel nursing is becoming an increasingly popular and rewarding career path for registered nurses. Both nurses in the field and students pursuing their degrees want to know more about what it takes to be a road warrior.
To become a travel nurse, you must meet specific educational requirements, including education, licensing, experience, certifications, and continuing education. By understanding these requirements, aspiring travel nurses can take the necessary steps to launch their careers and make a positive impact on patients’ lives — all while exploring new places as they gain valuable experience.
Earn a nursing degree
The first step toward becoming a travel nurse is to obtain a nursing degree. There are two primary degree options to choose from, each offering a unique educational experience:
- Associate degree in nursing (ADN): An ADN typically takes two to three years to complete and provides a solid foundation in nursing fundamentals.
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN): A BSN generally requires four years of study. This comprehensive program offers a more in-depth education.
While an ADN can establish a strong base for a nursing career, many healthcare facilities and travel nursing agencies prefer (or require) candidates to have a BSN. Aspiring travel nurses should consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing to increase their employment opportunities and assignment potential.
Licensure and experience
To practice as a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This standardized exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is required in most U.S. states. Passing the NCLEX-RN is a prerequisite for obtaining your nursing license.
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you can apply for your nursing license in the state(s) where you intend to practice. Each state has its own licensing board, and the requirements may vary slightly. Some states also participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows registered nurses to have one multistate license. This is particularly advantageous for travel nurses, who often move across state lines for assignments.
Don’t forget about experience! Most travel nursing agencies prefer candidates with a minimum of two years’ clinical experience as an RN. It’s recommended you work consistently as a nurse in a hospital or clinical setting, where you’ll have opportunities to refine your nursing abilities, adapt to varying patient populations, and improve your competence as a healthcare professional.
In the competitive field of travel nursing, certifications can significantly enhance your professional profile and increase your chances of landing desirable assignments. Certifications not only demonstrate your commitment to specialized areas of nursing but also provide evidence of your expertise and competence.
Certain certifications are highly sought after by travel nursing agencies and facilities because they indicate an ability to excel in specific environments. For example, certifications such as Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) are widely recognized and well regarded in emergency medicine and critical care settings.
Earning certifications can lead to exciting and rewarding travel nursing assignments. It’s recommended to pursue any certifications you believe will take your career where you want it to go.
Finally, consider continuing education. It plays a vital role in the career of a travel nurse, helping you to stay current with evolving healthcare practices and enhance your skills.
Continuing education is also essential for maintaining your nursing license. You may need to complete a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) depending on your state or travel nursing agency. Remember to keep a record of your completed continuing education activities and the corresponding CEUs earned. This documentation may be required when renewing your nursing license or applying for travel nursing assignments.
While the specifics may vary based on your location, by following this educational roadmap, you can become a travel nurse and launch your career in this exciting and rewarding field.