The past few years have been a golden era for travel nurses. While the pandemic-driven surge in demand for travel nurses has lessened somewhat, they still enjoy many opportunities to enter high-paying, short-term contracts at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The demand for travel nurses is a nationwide trend, especially growing in large-growth states such as Texas, where healthcare officials were already dealing with a nursing shortage before the pandemic began.
Even as COVID-19 eases its grip on the nation, travel jobs remain a popular option for nurses. They typically command higher pay than traditional nursing jobs. They also allow nurses to explore parts of the country they might otherwise never see.
What Is a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse enters a short-term contract with a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility. The average contract length is 13 weeks, although they can vary from eight weeks to as long as one year. Nurses can choose where they work and specify days off, work hours, workdays per week, and other details in their contracts.
Travel nurses have a certain amount of leverage with healthcare administrators because they are an important asset that helps them meet established nurse-to-patient ratios. Administrators often hire travel nurses in advance of an anticipated surge in patients, such as during flu season or times of the year when retirees temporarily move to warm-weather regions.
Benefits of Becoming a Travel Nurse
The most significant benefit for travel nurses is the increased pay the job commands. Travel nurses typically earn more than nurses on staff. According to Indeed, the average salary for a travel nurse in Texas is $127,786 or $2,338 per week.
Travel nurses also enjoy free housing or a stipend to help cover housing costs. And while travel nurses must move frequently, that’s a lifestyle that suits many people. They get to meet new people, see new places and learn various skills from peers across the country. The job is ideal for young nurses or those without ties holding them to one place.
The tradeoff is that the job does not last long. However, given the demand for travel nurses, those willing to go wherever work is available should have no difficulties finding a position.
Start a Travel Nursing Career
The first step in becoming a travel nurse is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN program teaches nurses the skills and knowledge employers look for when hiring a travel nurse.
Houston Baptist University offers an online RN to BSN program that allows nurses with two-year degrees to advance their education, making themselves solid candidates for travel nurse jobs. In many cases, graduates do not have to leave Texas to find some of the best travel nurse positions in the country.
After earning a degree, travel nurses need a year of experience in their chosen specialty. They must also decide what location and types of contracts they prefer. Travel nurse recruiters offer nurses several tips to keep in mind as they make these decisions:
Consider Crisis Assignments
These assignments involve working in areas experiencing a healthcare crisis, like those with high COVID-19 hospitalization rates. They often offer the highest compensation.
Choose Your Housing
By accepting a stipend rather than free housing, nurses can choose the price point for their accommodation.
If making the most money is the goal, it’s important to realize the highest-paying jobs are often not the most ideal (including some crisis assignments and locations far from major cities).
Work With Reputable Agencies
Look for the best pay rates and complete transparency in the contract process.
Have an updated resume available tailored for travel nursing. All the paperwork needed to secure a travel nurse job–resume, references, skills list, license–should be ready to go out at a moment’s notice. The best travel nursing jobs in Texas are highly competitive.
Travel nursing adds a new, potentially lucrative specialty for nursing school graduates. For those willing to make the sacrifices required, a travel nurse job gives them the opportunity to make the maximum pay their skills can command.