Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing: Which Is Right for Me? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Are you looking at two great job offers — an agency nursing position and a travel nursing contract? Maybe you are considering a new specialty and unsure what setting would be best. 

While agency and travel nurses are both types of registered nurses, there are distinct differences between the two. 

This article will examine the differences between agency and travel nursing. We will provide an in-depth look into both settings, from understanding the pay differences to exploring the working environments. 


agency nurse travel nurse requirements


Table of Contents



Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing Similarities

Travel nursing and agency nursing share many similarities, including: 

  • Temporary assignments
  • Competitive pay
  • Diverse settings; and
  • Similar patient populations

Both require proper licensure and credentials, and the skills agency nurses and travel nurses use on the job are similar in many ways. 

Both types of nurses need excellent clinical skills to provide high-quality patient care. Also, both must communicate effectively with: 

  • Patients
  • Families; and 
  • Other healthcare professionals 

Travel nurses and agency nurses must also be capable of adapting to new environments quickly and working independently.


agency nurse travel nurse differences


Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing: 3 Major Differences

Through a staffing agency, agency nurses are contracted to work at various healthcare facilities temporarily.

Often, agency nurses work in hospitals or clinics, but they can also work in: 

  • Long-term care facilities
  • Schools
  • Camps; or 
  • In-home health care

Despite providing essential patient care, agency and travel nurses have different job duties and responsibilities. Nurses employed by agencies typically work in one facility, whereas travel nurses work in other locations on short-term contracts.

Let’s take a closer look at the three main differences between agency and travel nursing. 


#1: Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse: Desired Skills 

The abilities required by travel and agency nurses are similar, but they also need specific skills because of their differing roles.

For short-term assignments, travel nurses must be: 

  • Adaptable
  • Independent
  • Culturally competent; and
  • Resilient

In addition, due to constant change and being away from home, they often face challenges that require flexibility and emotional strength.

As for agency nurses, they must be: 

  • Flexible
  • Team players
  • Able to onboard quickly
  • Multitaskers; and 
  • Able to communicate effectively

In addition to covering temporary staffing needs, they: 

  • Collaborate with various healthcare teams
  • Manage diverse patient populations; and
  • Adapt quickly to changing policies at the facility

While travel nurses focus on adjusting to new settings and constantly traveling, agency nurses focus on integrating smoothly into different work environments and handling varying staffing requirements.

While both roles offer rewarding opportunities for healthcare professionals, they can require different skill sets to succeed in temporary nursing assignments. 


#2: Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing Job Duties

Nurses employed by agencies or staffing services fill in shifts at medical facilities. They may work in one facility for an extended period or move from one facility to another as needed. Additionally, part-time or full-time work is possible.

In contrast, travel nursing agencies employ travel nurses to work short-term contracts in various medical facilities. Contracts typically last between 8 and 26 weeks, depending on the facility’s needs. Travel nurses can work in various settings and locations depending on their skills and certifications.

A nurse who works for an agency is typically responsible for providing direct patient care, such as wound care and monitoring vital signs, and may also assist with administrative duties.

On the other hand, travel nurses usually directly care for patients and provide education and assessment. The patients may need them to educate or assess their medical needs and devise a treatment plan.


#3: Education and Job Requirements for an Agency Nurse vs. a Travel Nurse

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is usually required for agency nurses, although some employers may accept candidates with an associate’s degree. 

A registered nurse (RN) must also have at least one year of experience working in a hospital or other medical setting before being employed by an agency. Depending on the agency, additional certifications may be required, such as Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

To be a travel nurse, nurses usually must hold a valid RN license, a passport, and have at least 1-2 years of experience. In most cases, travel nurses must meet the same educational requirements as agency nurses. 

Many travel nursing companies prefer candidates who have at least two years of nursing experience. Some companies may also require BLS and ACLS certifications for travel nurses.


What Types of Work Environments Do Agency vs. Travel Nurses Practice In?


Agency Nurse Work Environments

Generally, an agency nurse works on a temporary or contract basis for an agency. 

A nurse agency provides short-term or temporary healthcare services to: 

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities; and 
  • Home healthcare facilities

It is possible for agency nurses to be assigned to a single facility or to travel between several facilities. As well as providing general care, they may also offer specialized care to patients with mental health or other conditions.

Agency nurses must be highly organized and flexible and may be required to fill shifts immediately. Also, since they don’t travel between assignments, these professionals usually have more predictable schedules than travel nurses.


Travel Nurse Work Environments

Most travel nurses work 13-week assignments in: 

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Medical centers
  • Clinics; and 
  • Physician’s offices

Depending on their employer’s needs, travel nurses may go to different locations for assignments. Nurses who travel can gain experience in various settings and specialties and have the opportunity to explore other regions.

Are you currently looking for a travel nurse agency? Look no further than Trusted Nurse Staffing. 

When you work with Trusted, you can rest assured that your career is in the best possible hands. We strive to provide exceptional customer service and a personal experience every step of the way. 

We offer many benefits, such as: 

  • Housing, meal, and travel allowances
  • Flexible contracts
  • 24/7 access to your recruiter
  • And much more

Find available travel nursing jobs on Pronto today. 


agency nursing vs travel nursing


Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing: A Salary Comparison 

Salaries for travel nurses and agency nurses can vary depending on several factors, including location, experience, specialty, and demand.  

Due to the demand for their services in different areas and the need for specialized skills, travel nurses often earn higher salaries than agency nurses. Additional compensation may include:

Depending on the location of the assignment, travel nurse salaries can vary significantly, with higher-paying jobs typically available in areas with a higher cost of living or nursing shortages. In addition, nurses who specialize in critical care or specialized units may earn higher wages. 

Since agency nurses work on temporary assignments to fill staffing gaps, they may receive higher hourly rates than permanent nurses but still less than travel nurses. 

However, the salary of an agency nurse can vary depending on the: 

  • Staffing agency they work with
  • Location of the assignment; and 
  • Facility’s need for temporary staff

Some agencies offer health insurance and retirement plans to attract and retain skilled agency nurses. It is also possible to earn more as an agency nurse with specialized skills or experience, similar to travel nurses.  

It is important to note that the average salary for both positions may vary depending on the: 

  • Location
  • Experience level; and 
  • Facility type 


agency nurse travel nurse


Agency Nursing vs. Travel Nursing Benefits



The flexibility of travel and agency nurses allows them to tailor their work-life balance and explore diverse professional experiences. 

As a result of the flexibility in location and duration of assignments, travel nurses have the opportunity to explore new: 

  • Healthcare settings
  • Cultures; and 
  • Patient populations

Additionally, it enables them to accommodate personal commitments or travel aspirations. 

Similarly, agency nurses enjoy flexibility in scheduling, which enables them to work whenever and wherever they choose. 

In addition to earning supplemental income, this flexibility is ideal for those who want to balance their work with other responsibilities, such as family commitments or furthering their education.

Flexible working conditions benefit travel and agency nurses’ careers and well-being. 



Stipends are often included in the compensation package of travel and agency nurses, providing significant benefits to them. They can make travel and agency nursing positions more attractive to healthcare professionals.

Following are some of the stipends they might receive: 

  • Housing — Travel and agency nurses are often provided with housing stipends or company-arranged accommodations during their assignments. During a temporary stay in a new city, this can give a sense of comfort and security. 
  • Travel — Nursing travel stipends are usually provided to travel and agency nurses who relocate to another city or state for their assignments. Transportation expenses, such as airfare or mileage reimbursement, are covered by travel stipends. 
  • Cost of living — Some assignments may be in areas where the cost of living is higher. To help with this, additional stipends may be provided to travel nurses and agency nurses to help cover daily expenses such as food and utilities. 

If you are looking to begin work as an agency or travel nurse, it’s essential to know that many stipends are often tax-free, which can provide significant tax benefits. In this way, you can keep a higher portion of their earnings. For further details, contact your tax accountant. 



For travel and agency nurses, traveling opens up personal and professional opportunities. 

These are some of the key reasons why travel benefits agency and travel nurses:

  • Adventure and exploration — Traveling lets you experience new places, cultures, and lifestyles. 
  • Career advancement — Traveling to different healthcare facilities exposes agency and travel nurses to diverse medical practices, advanced technologies, and patient populations. This enhances clinical skills, making them more marketable in their careers.
  • Professional networking — Working in various settings allows travel and agency nurses to build a vast network of contacts in the healthcare industry. This network can lead to future job opportunities and references that strengthen their resumes.
  • Flexibility and autonomy — Travel and agency nurses have the freedom to choose where and when they want to work. They can align their assignments with personal goals, family commitments, or educational pursuits, providing a better work-life balance. 

In conclusion, travel is an excellent career opportunity for travel and agency nurses, combining their passion for nursing with the excitement of exploration and the opportunity for continuous learning and self-improvement.


Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find the Travel Nursing Assignment That’s Right for You 

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we are ready to assist you in finding the travel nurse job you’ve been looking for.

With Pronto, it’s easy to find a job. 

Click on a location on the map to see available jobs, and then use the search criteria to find the perfect job for you.  

When you find a job you’re interested in, we negotiate the pay and benefits that suit your needs. Our team will walk you through:

  • Signing the contract
  • Setting up housing
  • Gathering the necessary documents
  • And much more 

And when your assignment is over, we’ll help you find your next job in your dream location or work out all the details to renew your current assignment.

Begin your search on Pronto today!


agency nursing vs travel nursing