Travel nursing is a great way to learn new skills and gain more experience. Plus, if you enjoy meeting new people and traveling, being a traveling nurse will help you increase your network while you explore new cities. The first step to becoming a travel nurse is to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). Once you decide on either an LPN or an RN license, you can start the process.
First Steps to Your Nursing License
As with any nursing license, you must first complete an accredited and state-approved nursing program. Institutions tend to declare their accreditation on their website, but you can double-check by searching for your school here. Be sure to verify this because if the school isn’t accredited, you may not be able to complete select exams or certifications required for obtaining your license.
After completing your nursing program, you need to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) through Pearson Vue, an educational publishing company. You can find more information about registering for the test, test preparation and practice tests on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.
Next, a nurse must apply for a nursing license with the chosen state’s licensing agency or nursing board. Simply search for your state’s official Board of Nursing website to read the requirements for your state. For example, the Montana Board of Nursing points to an online application that requires licensure fees, official transcripts, and fingerprints for a background check, among other required documents.
When pursuing a nursing license, you should also complete certifications. These may include Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN), or any other certification related to your nursing specialty. Not every certification is required. Many, like the Legal Nurse Consultant Certification (LNCC), require years of experience beforehand. But earning certifications is a great way to get ahead as a nurse.
Starting the Journey
After obtaining your nursing license, earning any required certifications for your specialty, and gaining one to two years of experience, it’s time to break into travel nursing. Look at our job board to see what job search options and opportunities are available. You can sort jobs by LPN or RN licenses, specialties, and states. If you’re open to more locations, there’s also an option to include all compact states.
Compact states are states working together for the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), an agreement that has steadily expanded. The NLC currently includes 34 states, allowing nurses with a license in one registered state to practice in another. Check out the full map here.
Once you complete the first steps and have an idea of what assignment, facility, and location you would like to explore, you can register an account with Nurse First to get started. Also, check out our blog to learn more about travel nursing, including what to know before starting your application and tips for creating a resume.