How to Start a Career in Travel Nursing

A Guide to Locum Tenens for CRNPs & Nurse Practitioners

Travel nursing is a fantastic career option for registered nurses who want to experience different healthcare settings and locations nationwide. This career can also offer excellent pay and a great deal of flexibility. However, before you start your journey as a travel nurse, it’s important to understand how to get started. You’ll need a license to work as a nurse, and most staffing agencies help you obtain one before you take on an assignment.

Getting Started

Travel nursing is a flexible, rewarding career option for nurses. It’s also a great way to build your resume and gain experience in different nursing specialties.

Travel nurses get hired by healthcare staffing companies to work temporary assignments at hospitals and facilities across the country. The typical assignment lasts 13 weeks but can range from 8 to 26 weeks.

Once you’ve found a travel nursing recruiter you’re comfortable working with, you need to provide them with your resume, references, and pictures of your certifications. They’ll use these documents to start submitting you to assignments.

It’s important to find a recruiter who focuses on your goals and is dedicated to finding assignments that fit your schedule. You don’t want to end up with a travel nurse who submits you to assignments you don’t want or doesn’t take the time to understand what you’re looking for in an assignment.

Finding a Placement

Once you’ve determined that you want to pursue travel nursing as a career, it’s time to find a placement. There are several ways to do this, including networking with your colleagues and attending nursing conferences.

You can also use lead generation websites and colleague referrals. These can help you connect with travel agencies that are experts in your desired locations.

However, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t limit your search to places that are desirable or offer the highest pay. Other factors to consider when deciding where to work include house affordability and the overall cost of living.

It would help if you also talked with a recruiter about hospitals known for their reputations, career advancement opportunities, and perks. These assignments will look great on your resume and provide valuable experience that can open many doors in your future nursing career.

Getting Paid

A few factors impact the pay you’ll receive in travel nursing. Location, specialty, and your agency’s pay package all contribute to the total amount you’ll make.

One way to increase your pay is by studying for and obtaining certifications in a specific medical specialty. Specialties such as neonatal intensive care and operating room nursing often pay more than others.

You can also increase your pay by negotiating a flexible pay package. These packages offer various stipends such as housing, meals, and incidentals that don’t create taxable income.

The benefit is that you can take the stipend and save it for your next assignment or future expenses.

In addition, some agencies will pay you a bonus for referring other nurses to their agency. This can range from $100 to over $2,000. It’s important to note that these bonuses are usually a part of the agency’s overall budget and should not affect your pay package.


When you start a career in travel nursing, you can expect major changes to your tax situation. This is because you will likely be working in different states with many employers and bringing in a mix of taxable and non-taxable income.

First, you must determine your tax home, which is the state where you are primarily employed. This is important because travel nurses often work in more than one state and are potentially subject to double taxation in a year based on their income from each assignment.

You will also want to save all your receipts, including dining, fuel, and utilities. You can use a free mobile app to help you keep track of these costs or simply write them down on paper.

In addition, travel nurses can take advantage of tax deductions for short-term housing and vehicle expenses. These may include rent, utilities, food, insurance, gas, and maintenance.