What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Travel Nurse?

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Over the last couple of years, the medical industry has seen an explosion in the need for travel nurses and other medical staff that can arrive and work in a facility on short notice. Due to the intense and far-reaching effects of the global Covid pandemic, travel nurses were in extraordinarily high demand, sometimes earning as much as $5,000 a week at the peak. The greater salaries and flexibility that can be obtained through a travel nurse agency make it a lucrative and desirable career, leading many to wonder what qualifications the job requires.

Travel Nurse Qualification Basics

In order to become a travel nurse, there are a few different routes you can take:

Obtain a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Degree

One of the most popular ways to get into a nursing career is to earn a BSN degree, which usually takes around four years. This will qualify you for almost any nursing position, and you can immediately start earning a very strong salary after graduation. However, it contains a lot of requirements like math, science, and chemistry, and is a large time commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Exam for RNs)

Whether you have achieved your BSN degree or went through an RN-specific college program, you will still have to pass a specific test, called an NCLEX-RN exam, to become a true Registered Nurse. This test can be quite difficult, requires study, and can take up to about 6 hours to complete. Once you have done so, you will be in good standing and eligible for hire in almost any state.

Obtain an LVN/LPN degree

If the time requirements to become an RN are too much and you wish to begin working more quickly, you can become an LPN/LVN, and then consider working your way up to an RN while working. These courses usually take between one and two years and are easier to get than an RN or BSN qualification. However, your job opportunities will be far more limited than an RN, you will make less money, perform more basic care tasks, and usually be required to report to an RN.

Further Travel Nursing Qualifications

In addition to these basic requirements, most travel nursing jobs require you to have several further qualifications that can earn you a higher salary, extend your job opportunities, and make you a more desirable employee. Three of the most common ones are:

Basic Life Support (BLS)

A BLS certification is usually a requirement for nursing jobs, is commonly obtained through the AHA (American Heart Association), and usually only takes one day to complete. BLS certifications cover basic life support skills like CPR, how to use an AED, usage of barrier devices during CPR, two-person CPR, and the AHA chain of survival.

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)

An ACLS certification is usually required to work in an ICU or ER department. These courses usually consist of 15 hours of material, spread out over two days. You will learn about how to manage respiratory and cardiac arrests, airway management (such as intubation), basic pharmacology, and how to recognize and treat strokes.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

This is the last specialty certification that is usually required for nursing jobs, which focuses on how to care for children and infants. It usually takes about 8 hours to complete and covers material like child and infant CPR, how to use an AED on a child, how to recognize a cardiopulmonary arrest, the difference between respiratory distress and failure, how to recognize patients in shock, and early interventions or treatments for these events.

Typically, these certifications require you to pass a written test and are valid for two years. After two years, you will usually have to retake the classes. However, once you have obtained these, you will be eligible for many different nursing jobs and can begin earning a good salary at a job that truly helps others.

Live the Life You Always Dreamed Of

While travel nursing salaries are lower than they were at the peak of the Covid pandemic, they can still easily earn $3,000 per week. While that is an extremely generous salary, it’s not the only reason so many people are interested in travel nursing.

Often, many travel nursing jobs offer subsidized or fully-covered housing, which allows you to save more money than a traditional job. Also, you have more flexibility around where you live than in almost any other career. Say you want to live in Hawaii, California, or New York – travel nursing is an excellent way to make your beachfront dreams of living in paradise come true.

Even better, travel nursing is a way to truly help those in need. Few careers are more vital, rewarding, and meaningful than nursing, so for those with a compassionate heart, it’s an excellent career choice.

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