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4 Most Important Travel Nursing Requirements

So you want to be a travel nurse, but you don’t know what the requirements are. No problem. We’ll give you the skinny on what you need to have in order to travel the world.

Job Experience

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to work as a travel nurse fresh out of college. This may sound unfair to nursing students right now, but imagine trying to work as a nurse in a different facility every few months when you’ve never worked a shift as a registered nurse. It wouldn’t go well. Most facilities require you to have at least 18 months of practical nursing experience, but for some specialties, the minimum can be as high as two years.

Licensures and Certification

You have to pass the N-CLEX certification exam, also known as the nursing boards. Once you have your certification, you still have to apply for your licensure. Most states have different requirements so you have to check what the requirements are for the state you wish to work in.

Fortunately, 24 states have signed a multistate licensure agreement known as the Nurse Licensure Compact which allows licensed RNs in one of the states involved in the compact to effectively have a licensure in the other 23 states so long as their licenses and continuing education credits are up to date. Make sure you meet your requirements.


Flexibility is key. As a travel nurse you will work in a variety of locations, settings, and possibly specialties. You have to have strong communication skills, so you can understand and relay the medical and social needs of your patients. You should be skilled in analysis and keep a sharp eye on every detail. If you travel internationally, you’ll need to know the local language.

Miscellaneous Paperwork and Requirements

Depending on your specialty, you may need an NIH stroke scale or other certification(s). You should also have a certification in your specialty if a certification is available. Critical care nurses (CCRN) have such a certification. Then, it’s usually a good idea to have a current TB test, physical, and up-to-date immunizations prior to starting a new assignment.

Keep in mind that this is just an overview. You may need to meet more requirements given your assignment, but if you have these steps down, you should be well on your way to becoming a travel nurse.

Photo Credit: gbaku/John Atherton (CC BY SA)


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