How to Become a Travel Nurse: Credentials & Certifications

Nurse talking to patient after learning how to become a travel nurse with AHS NurseStat

Travel nurses enjoy many amazing perks, including higher salaries and the ability to travel across the nation. If you want to know how to become a travel nurse, there are several things to consider. One is that you will need certain credentials and might need some certifications under your belt before taking your first travel assignment. Let’s talk about starting your path toward becoming a travel nurse and the credentials and certifications you may need

How to Become a Travel Nurse

If you’re looking for resources on how to become a travel nurse, you’ve come to the right place. As a top travel nurse agency, we have helped countless clinicians nationwide start their careers as travel nurses. There are several steps to becoming a travel nurse, but the payoff can be huge, not only in salary, but also in flexibility and experience. 

What is a Travel Nurse?

So, what is a travel nurse? A travel nurse is a nurse that takes short-term assignments to fill in at healthcare facilities. A facility might need a travel nurse when one of their permanent nurses quits or is fired, if a staff nurse takes a leave of absence, or if there’s an unforeseen increase in the need for nurses that doesn’t allow them enough time to search for the right permanent candidate. In all of these cases, it helps to be able to bring in a nurse for a few weeks or months so there’s no staffing gap or decrease in patient care quality. 

Nurse talking to patient after learning how to become a travel nurse with AHS NurseStat
Once you know how to become a travel nurse, you can start working toward this incredible career option.

In most cases, travel nurse assignments last about 13 weeks, but some can be longer or shorter. Sometimes you can even extend your contract to stay on past the assignment timeline. 

Each travel nursing assignment pays differently and may have different requirements for availability, shift, and credentials. Your recruiter can help you find assignments that suit your needs and wants for your career.

Benefits of Becoming a Travel Nurse

If you’re wondering how to become a travel nurse, then you might already know about some of the benefits of this career path. Some benefits of becoming a travel nurse include:

  • Higher salary than staff nurses
  • Ability to travel around the country
  • Working in facilities that need the help most
  • Tax-free stipends
  • Great experience in a variety of settings

These are some of the many reasons a lot of nurses are making the switch from being staff nurses to becoming travel nurses

How to Become a Travel Nurse: What Credentials Do I Need?

If you want to know how to become a travel nurse, let’s talk about the credentials you will need. There are several things you will need to do before you can start practicing as a traveling nurse. Here are some of the things you will need to do to have the credentials to become a travel nurse:

Nursing Degree

One of the first steps is to get your nursing degree. There are many different options, depending on what type of nurse you want to be. For instance, RNs usually need either an Associate Degree of Science in Nursing or a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

If you’re planning to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), then you will need your high school diploma or GED and to graduate from an accredited LPN program. 

Once you meet the educational requirements needed to become a nurse, then you can take the necessary tests and steps to get a license in your home state.

Nursing License

After you complete your education, the next step is to get your nursing license. You will need to take the NCLEX test and apply for a license in your state. Your state board of nursing will then grant you a license to practice nursing in your state. 

If you live in a state that is part of the nurse licensure compact (NLC), then you can also apply for a multi-state license. This allows you to practice in all other NLC states. Currently, there are 37 states that are part of the nurse licensure compact, with many more likely to enact NLC legislation. 

Experience in Your Specialty

Another part of how to become a travel nurse is getting experience in your specialty. As a travel nurse, you will work in many different facilities with different policies and protocols. Therefore, it’s important to really understand your work and daily tasks in your nursing specialty.

Because of this, you need to get some experience under your belt as a staff nurse before you become a travel nurse. In most cases, you need to have at least two years of experience to become a travel nurse with AHS NurseStat to show you have the clinical skills needed to provide quality care to patients during your travel assignments. 

How to Become a Travel Nurse: Are Certifications Necessary?

When looking into how to become a travel nurse, you might be wondering if there are any certifications you need. Certifications often require additional education, a certain amount of experience, as well as passing an exam to show you know the material. In most cases, additional certifications aren’t required to become a travel nurse. However, they can be helpful. Here are some things to know about travel nursing and certifications:

Most Nurses Need a BLS Certification

All RNs need a Basic Life Support certification to practice. A BLS certification teaches nurses how to provide life support to patients during a cardiac or respiratory emergency. Therefore, it’s typically required to work in practically any hospital or medical facility. Usually, you will get this nursing certification before even beginning an entry-level nursing position. Therefore, generally travel nurses will already have this certification under their belt. Just make sure you keep it current. 

Some Assignments Require Certain Certifications

Nursing certifications aren’t required, but may help you find a travel nurse job. Different assignments will have different requirements, including different certifications they require of any travel nurse that takes the job. For instance, an ER assignment likely requires a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) certification. 

Having more certifications can help you qualify for more assignments as a travel nurse. It may also give you a leg up against other travel nurses applying for the same job. Therefore, you should look up recommended certifications for your nursing specialty and consider acquiring these certs, whether you’re just starting out as a travel nurse or have been practicing for a while.

Want to Know How to Become a Travel Nurse? Contact Our Team to Get Started! | AHS NurseStat

Join our top travel nurse agency today for access to top travel nurse jobs, amazing recruiters, and a team that truly cares about you. Our goal is to match amazing travel nurses with facilities who need their help. We work with you to determine your wants and goals and help you make them happen. Get in touch with one of our recruiters or browse our job board to learn more and get started. 

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