How Much Experience You Really Need For Travel Nursing

Becoming a travel nurse is an exciting opportunity to see the country, meet new people, learn new nursing skills, and build your résumé. As the demand for travel nurses continues to grow and more nurses want to travel the country while still working in a profession they love, travel nursing has become increasingly popular, especially among new graduate nurses.

“What are the travel nursing experience requirements?” is a common question many aspiring travelers ask their potential travel nurse agency. The amount of experience required depends on each facility, specialty, and other factors. But if you are looking to start your travel nursing journey sooner rather than later, there is a lot more you’ll need to know than that.

How Much Experience Is Necessary to Work as a Travel Nurse?

There is no formal, industry-wide time requirement, only what specific facilities require their nurses to have. However, with that being said, the currently adopted standard is that travel nurses should have at least 1-2 years of recent and relevant in-hospital or in-facility experience.

Some travelers can obtain a travel nurse contract with only nine months of experience, while other healthcare organizations may require more than the 1 to 2 years standard experience level. Such enhanced travel nurse requirements are usually specified on a job posting, but as you can see, it all depends on the facility and position you’re trying to fill. Specific information like this is something your traveler advocate will share with you before you apply for a travel nursing position, so don’t worry!

Why Is Previous Experience Important?

Yes, you have worked tirelessly to become a certified nurse and can land any nursing job as permanent staff, so you may be wondering why you can’t hit the road and set off as a travel nurse. It’s a valid question, and we understand it completely. However, there are several good reasons why you can’t immediately make the jump into travel nursing, and it ultimately boils down to protecting you, facilities, and patients.

For starters, the two-year experience rule is mainly for safety reasons. Once you become a travel nurse, you’re expected to dive right in and know what you’re doing. Orientations are often short, and there’s a lot to learn when you start at a new facility—like meeting your colleagues and understanding the hierarchy, learning the correct protocol, navigating a new charting system, and simply finding your way around in a new space. You need to be confident in your skills and knowledge base to put your best foot forward and safely care for your patients.

Also, most reputable hospitals won’t hire travelers with less than two years of experience. For them, the experience requirements help reassure them that their travel nurses will reliably provide great care from their first day right down to the last—which is something they really depend on. When it comes to you, travel nurse experience requirements are there to help protect your license, pad your resume, and help facilitate a successful travel nursing experience. You don’t want to have a negative first experience, overstress yourself, or let your patient care suffer because you rushed into a travel nursing position.

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Travel Nurse?

If you include nursing school, it should take approximately 3-6 years to become a travel RN. While it seems like a pain to have to wait a bit longer before you can become a traveling healthcare professional, it’s all for good reasons, and in the end, it only benefits you. It won’t do any good for you to start your travel nurse career before you’re ready. But, whether you’re currently in nursing school or already working your first permanent job to gain the necessary experience, it’s never too early to search for travel nursing jobs just to get a feel for what kind of assignments are currently available. 

If you are anxious to explore travel nursing as a career option, contact us, and we’ll find you the perfect fit. Check out our job board for travel nurse jobs that fit your needs.

See you soon!

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