International Travel Nurse

What Is an International Travel Nurse?

Are you looking for a career that pays well and allows you to travel extensively? International travel nursing may be for you. International travel nurses are registered nurses who travel around the world to countries where their valuable skills are needed most. These nurses come from a wide variety of clinical backgrounds and work temporary nursing assignments - usually one to two years - for independent staffing agencies at medical facilities in destinations like Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and more. In terms of earning potential, international travel nurses - depending on the country they're working in - can earn anywhere from ten to fifteen percent more than traditional staff nurses, and that doesn't even take into account other terrific benefits and incentives that are common to the specialty. Unlike traditional staff RNs who are usually required to show up to work every day according to a set schedule, international travel nurses - when between assignments - can do as they please. The autonomy, adventure, excitement, higher-than-average salaries, and ample benefits make international travel nursing a highly attractive career choice to many.

What Are Some International Travel Nurse Duties?

Common duties that international travel nurses are tasked with may include:

  • Educating a wide variety of patients from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds regarding well-being, good health practices, and prevention techniques
  • Providing prompt medical care for sizeable populations during times of disaster, famine, and war
  • Employing the nursing process of assessing, diagnosing, planning, implementing, and evaluating to treat patients in different healthcare settings
  • Examining, diagnosing, prescribing medications, and designing treatment plans for patients
  • Administering vaccinations
  • Working alongside doctors and other healthcare staff to develop plans of care
  • Assessing the physical and psychosocial needs of patients and their families while working to meet them in whatever way is possible
  • Learning different patient care systems and forms of patient documentation
  • Providing pertinent resources to patients and their families
  • Referring patients to other healthcare professionals as needed
  • Recognizing clinically unstable patients and intervening promptly as needed
  • Interpreting lab results

Where Do International Travel Nurses Work?

Needless to say, international travel nurses typically work in medical settings outside of the United States. Common employers include:

  • Independent staffing agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Governments
  • Hospitals
  • Children's healthcare facilities
  • Physicians' offices

How to Become an International Travel Nurse

Before you decide to pursue a career as an international travel nurse you should make sure that you're not afraid of new experiences, towns, people, and organizations. Moreover, you should thrive on constantly being challenged and have an interest in cultures and ways of life that are different from your own. Although pursuing a career as an international travel nurse is basically the same as a traditional nurse, there are a few additional hurdles you should be ready and willing to jump over to reach your goal. Since most travel nursing agencies require at least one year of clinical experience in any given specialty of nursing, before you pack your bags, you'll need to gain some experience first. Acquiring a passport, obtaining any necessary immunizations, learning another language (if needed), and learning about the area you'll be traveling to are all part of the lead-up to an international travel nursing assignment.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become an international travel nurse, the following educational requirements must be met:

  • Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license

Do International Travel Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, at a minimum, international travel nurses are required to hold an active and unencumbered RN license. Some nurses, in addition to holding an RN, will also hold advanced degrees and certifications.

In some cases, those with LPN licenses may be permitted to work in international travel nursing settings, however it's not typical. Prospective international travel nurses should also be aware that although not all overseas assignments require a BSN, healthcare facilities are increasingly making them a prerequisite.

Step 2: Required International Travel Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Although there is no specific certification to become an international travel nurse, other certifications could be required depending on the nursing specialty that you'll be working in while you're abroad.

For example:

  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nursing roles may require the following certifications:
    • Basic Life Support (BLS)
    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
    • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
    • Acute Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) credential (adult, pediatric, neonatal)

Similar standards can be applied to all other nursing specialties.

International Travel Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

The United States is far from the only country in the world that's currently experiencing a nursing shortage. Because of the high demand for registered nurses in countries all over the world, there really isn't a better time to begin a career as an international travel nurse.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Cultural competence, compassion, strong communication abilities, language skills, adaptability, flexibility, ability to overcome challenges, empathy, strong assessment skills, willingness to travel for extended periods
  • Job Outlook - It's difficult to determine what the demand for international travel nursing will be in the coming years since there are so many geopolitical factors at play. That aside, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of available jobs for registered nurses will increase by about 16% between 2014 and 2024.

What Is the Average Salary of an International Travel Nurse?

The earning potential of an international travel nurse will inevitably vary based on country and employer. For this reason, it's difficult to pin down exactly how much an international travel nurse will earn each year. With that being said, ZipRecuiter reports the average international travel nurse salary at $81,572 annually. In addition to their base salaries, international travel nurses will likely receive incentives and benefits which tend to include the likes of free housing, travel reimbursements, bonuses, medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage, the ability to choose assignments, assistance obtaining passports/work visas, and more.

How Much Do International Travel Nurses Make per Year?

  • $59,000 – $101,500 annually

How Much Do International Travel Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $39.00 average hourly wage

International Travel Nurse Resources