Traveling Nurse: Job Duties, Responsibilities and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a traveling nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

View popular schools

Traveling nurses move between patient homes, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. They perform the typical nurse duties, particularly administering medication and initiating routine medical tests. To become one, you must either be a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

Essential Information

A traveling nurse is a healthcare professional who assists chronically-ill or homebound patients, or helps medical facilities with staffing shortages. Along with the many duties associated with nursing, individuals employed in this occupation must also travel from location to location, including patients' homes. Some traveling nurses move between hospitals, clinics and schools. Education prerequisites for this job vary, though a basic requirement is a nursing license. Voluntary certifications are also available.

Required Education Licensed practical nurses: certificate or diploma in practical nursing
Registered nurses: diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in registered nursing
Other Requirements Licensing required in all states; nurses must be certified at the appropriate level by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% for licensed practical and vocational nurses; 16% for registered nurses
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $43,170 for licensed practical and vocational nurses; $67,490 for registered nurses

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties for Traveling Nurses

Traveling nurses have a wide array of duties to perform, such as administering medication and preparing nutritionally-specific meals. Many nurses who travel to different locations also teach family members and caretakers about proper patient and medical care. Additional responsibilities for traveling nurses might include follow-up procedures after surgery or administering physical therapy.

Traveling Nurse Responsibilities

Caring for patients who cannot leave their homes, traveling nurses administer medical care and monitor patients' needs. Some school districts employ traveling nurses as a cost-cutting measure to administer medication to specific students. A traveling nurse can work independently, or for a health services organization.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Requirements for Traveling Nurses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the education requirements vary for individuals employed as traveling nurses (www.bls.gov). Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are licensed practical (LPN) or registered nurses (RN). An LPN must have a high school diploma and a certificate from a nursing training program that has been approved by an official government agency. To become an RN, individuals will have to earn a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. A limited number of practicing traveling nurses will have graduate education in physical rehabilitation or gerontology.

Various local jurisdictions and employers have different certification and licensure standards for traveling nurses. To complete certification as an LPN or RN, candidates must demonstrate professional competency through an examination process, known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Certification for nurses is administered by state agencies responsible for governing health occupations.

Additional professional certification for home healthcare workers (who aren't necessarily nurses) is offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), which requires membership fees and an entrance test. The NAHC also require candidates to finish 75 hours of specialized coursework focusing on home healthcare.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The BLS projects that employment of registered nurses will increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024, the same for licensed practical and vocational nurses. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $67,490 in May 2015; the same year, licensed practical and vocational nurses earned a median of $43,170 a year.

The duties of a traveling nurse vary by patient and place of employment, though all perform basic medical tasks and possibly handle meal-planning as well. The educational requirements also vary, but a certificate or degree from a nursing program is needed. Licensure is mandatory.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • Accelerated BSN to MSN
    • MS in Nursing
    • Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization
    • Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Specialization
    • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN
    • BS in Health Science
    • BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
    • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • MBA and MS in Nursing - Leadership in Health Care Systems
    • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
    • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
    • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
    • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
    • MBA: Health Systems Management
    • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
    • BS in Health Care Administration
    • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
    • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy
    • RN to BSN

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Nursing: Undecided
    • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Administrator
    • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
    • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader Certificate
    • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice - Advanced Practice Nurse
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice - Executive Nursing Leadership
    • MBA - Healthcare Administration
    • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration
    • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Educaiton
    • RN to BSN

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your age?

    • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?