Travel Nurse Requirements 101

woman on traveling assignment after getting travel nurse requirements

Thinking about becoming a traveling nurse? It’s an exciting life where you can make a difference every day! If you have the travel nurse requirements, our team can help you find your first assignment and start traveling. Here’s a simple guide to some requirements you will need before you start your traveling nurse career.

Travel Nurse Requirements: Where to Begin?

The best place to begin if you want to become a traveling nurse is to get the qualifications you need to become a permanent nurse. In many cases, you’ll need at least two years of experience in your specialty before you can start traveling. Once you have that experience, it’s often much easier to adapt to different roles in different facilities across the country.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a traveling nurse, the first thing you’ll need is a nursing education if you don’t already have it. The type of education you need really depends on the type of nurse you want to be and your specialty. Generally speaking, most traveling nurses have either an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or an LPN education and certificate. In addition, you will need to pass any applicable exams and obtain your nursing license from your home state. From there, you can typically find a permanent position. This can help you start gaining experience so you can reach your goal of becoming a traveling nurse.

How to Become a Travel Nurse?

You have the education and experience, but now what? If you’re wondering how to become a travel nurse, it’s generally a good idea to talk to one of our recruiters. Our team can help set you on the right path toward becoming a traveling nurse.

In most cases, the first step is talking to a recruiter about your career goals and finding assignments that suit your needs. Recruiters can also help discuss requirements for each specific job so you can begin gathering everything you need for your first assignment. Our recruiters are your number one resource for becoming a traveling nurse and having a great experience as you travel to different destinations. We are also here to help you sort out requirements for each job so you’re prepared with everything you need.

woman on traveling assignment after getting travel nurse requirements
Once you have your travel nurse requirements, you can start taking assignments.

Travel Nurse Requirements: Licensing

Naturally, one of the first travel nurse requirements to consider is licensing. Now, if you’re taking an assignment in your home state where you already have your license, then there’s likely no further steps you need to take for licensing. However, if you want to be a travel nurse across America and take assignments in different states, then there are a few things to know. There may be different licensing requirements based on your destination.

NLC Licenses

Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a multi-state license. This is possible through the Nurse Licensure Compact (or NLC). This compact is essentially an agreement between many different states to accept the same nursing license. You pass one common test (the NCLEX) and you gain a license that can be used in all NLC states. Right now 38 states have enacted the NLC, though some are still pending implementation.

If you live in a compact state, then you likely already have your multistate license. In most cases all you need to do is simply maintain your license to take assignments in other compact states. If you’re not sure if you have a compact license, you can look it up through the Nursys database.

However, if you live in a state that isn’t part of the NLC, then you cannot obtain a compact license, unless you change your primary residence to one of those states (and meet certain residency and eligibility requirements). If you want to practice in a compact state, you will likely need a single state license for each state. For instance, if your primary residence is in Washington state, which currently has no action for the NLC, then you will likely need to get a license in each state you wish to practice in.

Also, if you have a compact license and want to practice in a non-compact state, then you likely will also need a single state license in that state. So, for instance, if you have a compact license from Texas, but wish to practice in Nevada, which currently has no NLC action, then you may need to get a single state license because your compact license isn’t recognized there.

Single State Licenses

In other cases, you may need to apply for a license in every state you work in. If you’re already licensed in another state, then you usually apply for a license by endorsement. Typically this means that if you’re in good standing and you’ve been actively practicing in another state, you won’t have to repeat your education or board exam. Instead, the BON may simply verify your license in the other state, run a criminal background check and fingerprints, and then grant you a license for the new state.

Keep in mind that how long it takes to receive your new state nursing license can vary. In some states it may even take several months. Therefore, it may be best to plan ahead for which destinations you would like to take assignments. From there, you can proactively begin the licensure process and gain the necessary travel nurse requirements for each state you’d like to work in.

Walk Through Licenses

Also, in some states you can get a temporary license. These are usually used to bridge the gap until you gain your permanent license in that state. They’re also called “walk through” licenses. Basically, you can get a temporary nursing license in a matter of days and begin practicing while awaiting your permanent license.

There are currently five walk through states:

  •       Arizona
  •       Idaho
  •       Louisiana
  •       Missouri
  •       South Carolina

Travel Nurse Requirements: Certifications

Also, consider which certifications you will need as a traveling nurse. Certifications aren’t necessarily set in stone travel nurse requirements. However, many facilities do require certain certifications. For instance, many hospitals around the country require nurses to have certifications like Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and others. Other certifications may depend on your specialty, such as being a CCRN, CEN, or CPN from recognized national boards. Therefore, if you have these certifications, make sure you have access to your credentials, just in case they’re required by facilities where you take assignments.

Don’t Forget Required Documentation

Also, it’s a good idea to keep some other documentation handy. Some documents may be needed by the facility where you take your traveling assignment, by the state’s BON, and more.

For instance, you will likely need forms of personal identification, which may include:

  •       State ID or driver’s license
  •       Passport
  •       Social security card
  •       Birth certificate

You may also need a copy of your medical records, including vaccination records and results from your most recent physical. It can also be a good idea to have one or two letters of recommendation on hand to use when applying for nursing licensure and jobs. Our recruiters can help give you a specific list of required documentation for each assignment. However, each of these documents can be good to have at the ready in case they’re needed.

Be a Travel Nurse with AHS NurseStat

If you’re ready to start your adventure as a traveling nurse, reach out to our team at AHS NurseStat today! We are an agency that cares about you and helps you find opportunities that further your goals. Whether you have a destination list of all the places you want to see or are looking to find assignments that make the most financial sense for you, we are here to help. Our recruiters go above and beyond to help you find the ideal job and are even available just to chat when you need. Get in touch today and let’s match you with your next job.

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