Is CVICU Travel Nursing a Rewarding Career? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

CVICU nursing isn’t for wimps. 

It’s a high-stakes environment where life often hangs in the balance, and things can get serious fast. 

But what exactly does a job as a traveling CVICU nurse look like, and how can you prepare for a demanding, high-stress assignment like the CVICU?

We’re glad you asked! 

Whether you’re already a traveling nurse (or on your way to becoming one), here you’ll find all the details you need to step into CVICU travel nursing.


cvicu travel nurse


Table of Contents



What Is a Travel CVICU Nurse?

A travel CVICU nurse is a contract nurse who fills positions in the cardiovascular intensive care unit caring for critically ill patients with cardiac, thoracic, and vascular conditions. 

Their patients may often come from:

  • The catheterization laboratory
  • The operating room following cardiovascular surgery; or 
  • From another hospital that is unable to provide the level of care the patient needs 

Some patients may be awaiting additional surgery or are needing to recover before being discharged from the facility or transferred to another unit. Other patients may require no surgical intervention but need extensive care and monitoring.


What Are the Responsibilities of a CVICU Travel Nurse?

CVICU travel nurses provide care for those who are hospitalized with cardiothoracic conditions and diseases. 

Since their patients are usually extremely sick and can experience a severe decline at a moment’s notice, they’re continually evaluating them for even the slightest change. 

CVICU travel nurses provide constant monitoring and care for patients suffering from heart or lung conditions. They keep a close eye on critical patient health indicators such as: 

  • Blood pressure
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Heart rate; and
  • Body temperature

They also work with highly technical medical equipment and monitor a variety of lines and devices, including: 

  • IV
  • Ventilator
  • Central line
  • Hemodynamic monitoring
  • Chest tube drain
  • Foley catheter
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Bilevel-positive airway pressure (BIPAP)
  • Pacemakers

Since they are monitoring patients with heart conditions, CVICU travel nurses must also have a deep understanding of:

  • Hemodynamics
  • ECGs
  • EKGs; and 
  • How the heart affects the body’s other organs


What Skills and Qualities Does a Successful Travel CVICU Nurse Need?

If you plan to go into CVICU travel nursing, you’ll need to possess the following qualities:

  • Thrives in a fast-paced, high-stress environment
  • Knows how to set priorities and manage their time
  • Has excellent critical thinking skills
  • Is highly organized
  • Has strong attention to detail
  • Is highly motivated (Type A personalities thrive here)
  • Understands the importance of protecting their mental health
  • Isn’t afraid to ask for help
  • Is an exceptional communicator who is able to translate technical concepts into plain language for patients and their families

You’ll also need to have:

  • A thorough understanding of the heart, including cardiac rhythms, pathophysiology, and common disease processes. 
  • The ability to manage complex medications and therapies, including Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT).
  • Exceptional resuscitation skills.
  • The ability to assess a patient, interpret data, and intervene according to the smallest shift in a patient’s condition.
  • A team spirit, to collaborate with other health care providers.
  • A love of supporting and educating your patients and their families about cardiovascular issues and recovery.

If you’re considering becoming a CVICU travel nurse, the team at Trusted Nurse Staffing would love to help you find the perfect assignment. Search for CVICU travel nursing jobs on Pronto today.


cvicu travel nursing


Are CVICU Nurses in Demand?


Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, killing 375,476 people in 2021, the demand for CVICU travel nurses is high — and will probably only continue to rise. 


Why Do Hospitals Need CVICU Travel Nurses?

Hospitals have open jobs for CVICU travel nurses for many reasons.

Some facilities need more CVICU nurses to fill in during their busy season. Others may hire traveling CVICU nurses while their permanent staff does annual training. Or regular staff nurses may go on leave or take vacation time, leaving openings for CVICU travel nurses to fill in during their absence.


Basic Requirements for CVICU Travel Nurse Jobs


Do You Have To Have Earned a Specific Degree To Be a Travel CVICU Nurse?

If you dream of becoming a CVICU travel nurse, the first thing you must do is become an RN. 

This can be done through either a bachelor’s of science (BSN degree) or an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN degree), but a BSN has additional coursework that will make you better prepared for this job. Plus, you can typically get paid more with a BSN degree!


Are There Advanced Certifications That Will Help You Become a CVICU Travel Nurse?


CVICU nurses must stay up to date on their Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certifications.

There are a number of additional advanced certifications that you may also want to consider that will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and skill and might even qualify you for a better salary or more advanced position.

These include:

  • Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC)
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Cardiac Surgery Certification (CSC)
  • Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
  • Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional (CCRP)

Most of these advanced certifications require you to have at least 2–5 years of experience working with critically ill cardiac patients.


travel cvicu nurse


What Is the Average Salary of a Travel CVICU Nurse?

On average, the salary of a CVICU travel nurse is:

  • $69.10 per hour
  • $714 per day
  • $2,728 per week
  • $10,557 per month
  • $149,111 per year 

As with all travel nursing areas, there is not one standard amount every CVICU travel nurse makes. The salary for a CVICU travel nurse depends on a variety of factors, such as: 

  • The type of facility you are working in — A large hospital will likely pay more than a small critical care facility. 
  • The facility’s location — Assignments in more affluent areas are likely to have higher budgets. 
  • Your level of education and certifications — A BSN degree typically pays higher than an ASN, and the addition of special certifications is also likely to increase your paycheck.
  • The timing of your assignment — If you choose a facility that is desperate for CVICU nurses, or if you’re working during a crisis, you’ll likely receive a higher pay rate. 


Where Can CVICU Travel Nurses Earn the Most Money?

The top 9 highest paying cities for CVICU travel nurses in the U.S. are: 

  1. Stockton, CA — $205,549 per year
  2. Little Rock, AR — $173,805 per year
  3. Baltimore, MD — $162,107 per year
  4. Palo Alto, CA — $152,355 per year
  5. Tucson, AZ — $151,183 per year
  6. Phoenix, AZ — $148,077 per year
  7. Atlanta, GA — $140,273 per year
  8. Charlotte, NC — $136,891 per year
  9. Syracuse, NY — $123,955 per year

Ready to hit the road? Search for CVICU travel nursing jobs in these high-paying cities on Pronto.


What Types of Facilities Do CVICU Travel Nurses Work In?

Due to the amount of complex monitoring and support their patients require, most CVICU travel nurses work in hospital intensive care units.

However, you may also find CVICU travel nurse assignments in:

  • Step-down units
  • Specialized telemetry units
  • Remote tele-ICU facilities 
  • Post-operative anesthesia units
  • Cardiac catheterization labs
  • Electrophysiology units 
  • Interventional cardiology units


Specific Types of CVICU Nurses

Due to the complexity of the position, CVICU travel nurses are already highly specialized professionals. 

Some CVICU nurses, however, may choose to further specialize in one of the subsets of cardiovascular care, such as:

  • Post-operative care
  • Pediatric or neonatal cardiovascular care; or 
  • Cardiothoracic intensive care


Closely Related Fields to CVICU Nursing

Travel nurses in the CVICU are a type of specialized critical care nurse. If you decide you’re not interested in working in the CVICU, here are some other closely related fields of nursing you may want to consider:


cvicu travel nurses


The Pros and Cons of Accepting a CVICU Travel Nursing Job


Advantages of Travel CVICU Nurse Jobs

  • The job of a CVICU travel nurse is exciting and has many advantages. Here are just a few: 
  • You tend to work with fewer patients than other nursing specialties.
  • Discharging patients and watching them walk out of your unit is highly rewarding.
  • You have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with some patients.
  • You get to work closely with doctors and specialists.
  • You gain experience with highly technical equipment.


Disadvantages of Travel CVICU Nurse Jobs

As you may have gathered, CVICU travel nursing also has its challenges. These include:

  • It’s easy to become emotionally attached to your patients.
  • Shifts can be cognitively and emotionally intense, which can lead to burnout. 
  • You often have to deal with death.
  • Since CVICU is so highly specialized, shifts can become somewhat cookie-cutter.


Interested in Trying CVICU Travel Nursing? Contact Trusted Nurse Staffing

If CVICU travel nursing is your dream job — Trusted Nurse Staffing would love to help turn your dream into a reality. 

The team at Trusted Nurse Staffing will:

  • Help you create a highly customized resume.
  • Listen to your goals, interests, and availability. 
  • Create a list of possible assignments.
  • Submit your resume to your top choices. 
  • Consult with you on job offers to ensure you get what you want.
  • Answer questions during an assignment. 
  • Assist with negotiations and job extensions. 
  • Help you choose your next travel nursing adventure.

Are you ready to begin a great adventure in CVICU travel nursing? Find your dream job on Pronto today!


cvicu travel nursing