September 15, 2008

Monday Markets: Travel Nursing

Each Monday, the JobMonkey blog focuses on an emerging market – a hot job sector where you just might find your dream job.

If there is a market you are interested in that we haven’t covered yet, please leave a comment so we can be sure to write about the areas that appeal to you!

This Monday, we’re talking about Travel Nursing (AKA Traveling Nurses).

As its name implies, travel nursing means taking short-term nursing positions in communities around the country — and the world. Due to the nursing shortage in the United States (and around the world), nurses are in HUGE demand.  Hospitals and medical centers are currently paying top dollar to those of you who can help them ride out their short-term crunch. (In fact, most travel nurses make more than their full-term colleagues.)

JobMonkey’s section on nursing jobs touches briefly on this unique niche, but I wanted to take an in-depth look at this growing and financially rewarding subfield.

Who is qualified to be a traveling nurse?
If you are a licensed nurse, you are qualified! Those of you with an RN degree are at an advantage over those with an LPN or an LVN, since RN accreditation is national (vs. state-based for the other degrees.)  Temporary licenses are available, which your employer or the nursing agency you were placed with can help you arrange.

How long do travel nurse assignments last?
Assignments are usually anywhere from three to twelve months. At the end of your assignment, you might be asked to stay for a second temporary stint — or be offered a full-time position.

What are salaries like for traveling nurses?
According to, the salary range for traveling nurses is $30 – $40 per hour.  The amount varies according to your experience and specialty, as well as the location of the job. If the job requires relocation, your employer will typically offer subsidized housing.

How secure are these positions?
Your job as a traveling nurse is secure for the time period for which you were hired; but if you want a life-long job, this isn’t the gig for you.  That said, many hospitals do try to recruit their traveling nurses for full-time positions.

What are the downsides of taking a job as a traveling nurse?
Most travel nurse positions are placed through outsourced agencies.  Like with temp agencies, you essentially have two bosses — your hospital or medical center and the travel nurse agency that placed you.

I’d rather not go through an agency.  Is that possible?
Yes.  Large hospitals and medical centers often advertise directly for nurses.  But signing up with an agency is definitely easier and faster.  Agencies do take a fee, which can cut into your compensation package.  You will need to weigh that cost against the benefits of an easy search.

If you want to learn more about travel nursing to see if this field is right for you, check out this interview with traveling nurse Amy Robbins, or do a quick google search for traveling nurse placement agencies.

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