With many jobs, hopping from location to location, company to company within short periods of time can tend to give a negative impression to future employers, but not so in the world of travel nursing. Not to be confused with paid travel companions (people who accompany and assist elderly travelers), travel nurses are skilled healthcare providers who make their living filling temporary contracts at locations across the country and across the world.
According to American Traveler (one of several travel nurse agencies) travel nurses generally have a minimum of a year's experience in their field before they begin accepting contracts, and the jobs average around 12 to 13 weeks in length. And while specifics will vary from agency to agency, travel nurses typically enjoy a higher salary, full benefits, and plenty of flexibility in terms of work schedule and location preferences, mostly due to the high demand for qualified medical professionals.
Pay can also vary according to location. According to the website everynurse.org, the average hourly rate for a travel nurse by region is:
- Northeast – $35-$38
- Southeast and South – $26-$30
- West Coast – $30-$35
- Midwest and Central – $28-$31
- Hawaii – $24-$30
- Alaska – $35-$45
On top of the hourly rate, some agencies also offer bonuses for referrals, completion, loyalty, and more, so be sure and thoroughly investigate all options to make sure you're making the best financial decision.
The pay is only part of the appeal for nurses. Travel nursing allows nurses to explore all different areas of the country, and might just lead to finding a place to make permanent. Explore the country hospitals of rural areas, the constant action of a big city, or just work in a part of the country you've been meaning to visit.
Despite all the perks, the job isn't built for everyone. Some nurses prefer more consistency with their paychecks (instead of working contract to contract). The constant travel also makes it difficult for those with families, or those who may struggle to settle into new places, so make sure and consider all the pros and cons before you sign off on the idea.
Of course, anyone interested in travel nursing will still need to meet the minimum experience requirements, so don't plan on tackling the job right out of your Unitek College program. Use your time post-graduation wisely, accrue the necessary experience, and then if you're still interested in travel, give it a shot!
Also, if you're interested in pursuing travel nursing, be sure and start with a visit to the American Travel Health Nurses Association website and the National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations website. Both can help get you up to speed on requirements, educational opportunities, and other details that go a long way towards making your stint as a travel nurse into a success.
For more information on become a nurse or advancing your existing nursing degree, contact Unitek College here.