New Grad Travel Nurse Tips (Plus Career FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 29, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in a career in the medical industry with a variety of experiences, consider becoming a travel nurse. As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to travel to various locations and see firsthand how different healthcare facilities handle medical care. If you just graduated from nursing school, knowing what to expect from a travel nursing career can better prepare you for the future. In this article, we explain the role of a travel nurse, list new grad travel nurse tips and answer frequently asked questions.

What is a travel nurse?

A travel nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who works on contract to fulfill a medical facility's staffing needs. Working on a short-term basis, they travel and work at different facilities with nursing shortages. On the job, they have similar duties to traditional RNs.

Tips for new grad travel nurses

Knowing what to expect as a new travel nurse can help you make strategic career decisions for your future. It can also help ease anxiety and help you enter your new career with confidence. Here are nine new grad travel nurse tips:

Use your network

While most employers want travel nurses with experience, some travel nurse agencies hire new graduates. Review your list of professional contacts to network with these agencies. Consider networking through professional social media platforms or job forums targeting the healthcare industry. Establishing and using these contacts may introduce you to new employment opportunities. Some of your contacts may even give you an employment referral which can improve your chances of getting a job.

Connect with medical facilities

Consider entering the field with a temporary position. Many medical facilities like clinics and hospitals hire travel nurses on a temporary basis. Connect with these facilities and enter your name into their database for temporary work. A temporary staffing agency can also facilitate this connection.

Use a reputable travel nursing agency

Before partnering with a travel nursing agency, verify its legitimacy by conducting research. Determine if it's accredited or if it's received any awards or praise from a well-known publication. All of these can indicate a high-quality travel nursing agency that may provide you with great employment opportunities. While an agency can help you find new employment opportunities, continue to look for jobs yourself.

Be flexible

Be willing to work any shift you're given. It's also important to have a great deal of flexibility regarding your location. For example, while you may want to work in a more populated location, working in a less-popular locale still provides you with valuable experience and may help you maximize your earnings.

It's also important to keep your affairs in order in case an opportunity suddenly arises. For example, determine whether you need a pet sitter and sort your licensing paperwork. Doing these things can help you better prepare for these circumstances.

Maintain your licensing and certification documents

After graduation, gather your nursing licensure and certification for safekeeping. Scan important documents so you have them easily available for email correspondence with recruiters and facilities. Consider storing them on your laptop or on a secure flash drive for easy access no matter where you're located.

Consider the pay in different states

Your salary as a travel nurse may vary based on your geographic location and geographical nursing needs. Before applying for a position, consider the salary you need to earn for your living expenses. Then, determine which states best meet your needs. Determine the cost of living in different states and the salary you need to maintain a certain standard of living.

Select a nursing niche

Consider specializing to help you stand out in the nursing field and help you secure employment more easily. Then, market yourself in these areas to present hiring managers with a stronger application. For example, you can specialize in labor and delivery or work in a post-anesthesia care unit.

Consult with your family

Before taking your spouse and children with you from location to location, ensure it's feasible to do so. Consult with your spouse and children prior to making the decision. Doing this helps you make a more informed decision. It also helps you prepare ahead of time for things like living arrangements and expenses.

Make connections on assignment

While on your current contract, make an effort to connect with healthcare professionals at the facility where you're working at. These connections can help you make the position more permanent in the future. Collect names, business cards and create social media connections. You can even use some of these connections for job referrals later on.

Frequently asked questions about travel nurses

Here are common questions regarding the traveling nurse profession:

What is the average salary for a travel nurse?

Travel nurses make a national average salary of $108,770 per year. However, your salary may vary based on your employer, your geographic location and your skill or experience level.

What is the job outlook for travel nurses?

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report data for travel nurses, it has data for registered nurses which is a category that travel nurses fall under. According to the BLS, registered nurses can expect an employment growth of 7% from 2019 to 2029—a rate faster that the average growth for all other professions.

How can you advance as a travel nurse?

Here are some ways to advance in your career as a travel nurse:

  • Continue learning and developing your skills. Consider obtaining a specialty or enrolling in additional classes to help you learn and develop new skills. Having a wide variety of skills can help you impress hiring managers and can help you better prepare for your future duties.

  • Improve your cultural competency. Each location you work at may introduce you to a new culture. During your career, spend time working in different regions around the country to develop your cultural competency and improve your cross-cultural skills.

  • Treat a variety of patients and conditions. Traveling gives you the opportunity to work with a broader range of both patients and conditions. Maximize your learning potential in this regard to help improve your skills and abilities as a travel nurse.

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