Becoming licensed as a travel nurse is a huge accomplishment. With nursing school, passing the NCLEX, obtaining the necessary experience, and other requirements, getting ready for your travel nursing journey is no easy task. However, acquiring additional licenses to start your career is a little less complicated.
While getting the appropriate licenses to work in multiple states can be confusing, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and many travel nursing agencies are actively working to make this process even easier. With the proper planning and a little help from your travel agency, you’ll be on your way to the assignment of your dreams in no time!
Basics of Licensure in a New State
To get another license in a new state, you need to apply for an endorsement license. You will need to fill out an application and send verification of licensure, but you will not be required to retake the NCLEX. You will remain licensed in your original state, but you will be “endorsed” to practice somewhere else. The steps to obtain an endorsement license varies by state and may require a few necessities such as:
- Continuing Education Units (CEU’s): CEU requirements differ for each state. Some require a minimum number of CEU’s. Others want specific CE’s (like a domestic violence CE), and a few states don’t need any.
- Live Scan or Fingerprint Cards: Almost all states now require some sort of fingerprinting for RN licensure. Some states, like CA, will require ‘Live Scan,’ using digital fingerprinting instead of the old ink and roller method.
- Transcripts: Many states also require that you provide your nursing education transcripts to obtain an endorsement license.
The verification process can sometimes take a while, so make sure to work with your agency and plan ahead.
Nurse Licensure Compact
The NCSBN created the NLC to allow nurses to travel from state to state without paying to obtain temporary or permanent licenses, but not all states participate. Fortunately, registered nurses whose permanent addresses are in one of the compact states can have one multi-state license and practice in both their home state and other compact states. Many facilities will ask for proof of residence at the start of your assignment (usually a driver’s license), but that’s it.
When you get your multi-state license, your information is stored in a shared database that all compact nursing states can access. Your work history, specialty, and other pertinent information are readily available for potential employers. It’s quick and cuts out a lot of the paperwork associated with getting travel nurse jobs. There are currently 38 jurisdictions that have enacted NLC legislation. You can view the map here.
States that are not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact require a different process, and it can become expensive and time-consuming to obtain the proper licenses. “Walk-through states” give out temporary licensures to nurses who are planning to move to a state, already have a job, or are working on a permanent license. It allows staffing shortages to be quickly filled so you can immediately start working while pursuing a permanent license in that state.
Temporary licenses do expire quickly, within six months, so make sure to apply for a permanent license as well to prevent any hiccups when your temporary expires.
Choosing a Travel Nursing State License
Getting a nurse license in a different state can be confusing due to differences in requirements, processes, and timeframes. Don’t let paperwork hold you back from achieving your dream of becoming a travel nurse.
If you want to become a registered nurse (RN) but don’t live near a school, it’s not impossible to complete a program online. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers RN programs through its website. There are some stipulations, though; you’ll need to pass a national exam and earn at least one year of clinical experience before you’re eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam.