How to Become a Travel Nurse

Unlike travel therapy, nurses need a few years of experience under their belt before clients are likely to consider them for travel staffing needs.

One Year vs. Two Years

Two years is best, but you can be submitted for consideration with one year of experience. The two years will make you more marketable in competitive locations. If you don’t have at least two years of experience it can be difficult to land a contract, but don’t rule yourself out completely if you only have that initial 12 months. Cariant has direct contracts with clients where a single year of experience is acceptable because there is not as much direct competition for an assignment.


To prepare for working as a travel nurse you should get the following items prepared. (Keep a folder of these materials handy for when you start talking to recruiters.)

  • A “Keep it Simple” Resume
    • Education
    • Contact info
    • Experience on the job, including any floating (all areas where you saw patients matter)
  • Copies of your nursing license
  • Copies of your credential(s)
  • References
    • Two supervisory reference are best, but one supervisory and one co-worker is also accepted
  • Copies of your immunization records

Having these on hand will help expedite your application process.

Mental Toughness

One thing that isn’t talked about often is mental preparation. Traveling alone and continually starting at new facilities can be tough because they are all different experiences. One hospital may start you out with good training, and another may be too rushed for comfort. Be prepared for this so you start travel contracts knowing you have the ability to jump in and do whatever comes your way. Smile and roll with the punches. Learn from every experience (most are good!) and take that knowledge with you for the next one.