What are the Education Requirements to be a Travel Nurse?

Travel nursing is a wonderful concept that has come up in response to the nursing shortage that many healthcare organizations are facing currently.  Under this system, nurses are appointed on a short-term basis (usually 13 weeks), which ensures a free flow of personnel over the country. This way, the flow can be directed on a need-basis to the places which are facing these shortages. 

In their actual work, travel nurses are no different from nurses employed on a permanent basis. Hence, the educational requirements are mostly the same, but you should still have a basic understanding of the important travel nurse qualifications that any workplace will be looking for.

This article gives you a brief intro to these travel nurse qualifications. 

Foundational Educational Requirements

In order to qualify as a nurse, you have to have an associate’s degree from a recognized healthcare program or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It usually takes 2-3 years to complete this degree, with the minimum duration being two years. 

  1. Licenses 

After you have received your degree, you become eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX –RN) exam. If you pass, you receive a license and become a Registered Nurse (RN), which is a mandatory requirement for joining the practice.

In addition to the NCLEX-RN exam, a nurse also has to be licensed by the state they work in. Of course, it is extremely cumbersome to obtain licenses for all fifty states. Luckily, a cooperative initiative called the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) makes this process easier. 

The NLC provides a multistate license, which allows a travel nurse to practice in more than one state without having to obtain a fresh license. As of now, there are 39 states in the NLC. 

  1. Speciality Training And Certifications

In addition to the basic travel nurse qualifications mentioned above, some assignments might require you to have had training in a specific field of healthcare (for example, pediatrics) and provide evidence through certifications. 

This is not a necessary requirement. Some employers might have some such criteria, while others may only look for basic qualifications. This largely depends on the type of organization and assignment it is. 

  1. Performance-Based Development System (Pbds) Test 


The Performance-Based Development System (PBDS) test was developed by Dr. Dorothy del Bueno to test a nurse’s practical skills. Therefore, unlike other tests like the NCLEX-RN tests, it does not require multiple-choice responses. Rather, you are shown a few medical situations on video and asked for a diagnosis and the plan of treatment you would follow as a nurse. It tests three skills in three areas, namely interpersonal relations, critical thinking, and technical skills. 

It might not be necessary for you to take this test since not all organizations require it. However, it is a difficult test to pass because of the attention to detail involved, so you should be prepared to give it if required. Some employers might even ask you to repeat the test if it has been a while since you gave it. 

  1. Professional Experience

In addition to these educational criteria, you might also be required to show recent professional experience of a minimum number of years. The number of years required changes from assignment to assignment. 

Some assignments might also ask for experience in a particular sub-field of medicine. 

Apart from the above-listed travel nurse qualifications, employers generally expect nurses to have these personal skills: leadership, ability to work in a team, adaptability, and good communication skills. 

Be sure to mention not just your educational qualifications, but also other aspects such as extracurricular activities, awards and honors, and previous leadership roles on your resume. This will give your potential employer an indication of how you are as a person and worker, as well.