Are you considering becoming an ICU travel nurse? Do you want to know more about the ICU travel nurse job description and what it takes to become one? 

Finding the answers you need can be a difficult process. Luckily, Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to help clear away the cobwebs and understand the intricacies of ICU travel nurse assignments. 

This guide will help you understand what it takes to be an ICU travel nurse, what the pros and cons are, and much, much more. 



Table of Contents

ICU Travel Nurse Job Description

Before you jump into an assignment, you probably want to know what the job description is. What is a basic ICU travel nurse job description? Not surprisingly, it doesn’t really differ from a stationary ICU nurse. 

As an ICU travel nurse, you can expect to do all the things any other ICU nurse does:

  • Supervise other nurses and LPNs
  • Educate and inform patients and their families
  • Coordinate care plans with other health care providers
  • Perform or arrange for tests such as blood draws
  • Check patient vitals
  • Record patient health data

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you can rest easy knowing that we provide you with everything you need to succeed, from job description to step-by-step support. 




Where Are ICU Travel Nurses Typically Placed?

An ICU travel nurse can be placed anywhere there is an ICU, from hospitals to health centers, and beyond. 

Within a facility, there are multiple different ICU wards in which you may find yourself, including:

Basic Requirements for ICU Travel Nurse Jobs

Most of the requirements to work as an ICU travel nurse are the same as those required to be a stationary ICU nurse. Occasionally, a travel nurse will have a couple of additional requirements. 

The basic requirements to become an ICU nurse include:

  1. Acquiring a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution
  2. Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  3. Obtaining licensure as a registered nurse in your state
  4. Considering pursuing certification in ICU care
  5. Considering pursuing a master’s in nursing

Many times, nurses are required to have spent a minimum of 1 year in an ICU and, depending on your assignment, there might be some additional certifications that you are required to have. Plus, every state tends to have slightly different requirements

Are Only ICU RN Travel Jobs Available?

ICU nurses are almost always required to be RNs. This is because they are dealing with extremely serious cases, and their patients need a higher level of care. Generally speaking, it is less likely that you will be hired as an ICU nurse if you are not an RN.


icu rn travel jobs


Advanced Certifications that May Be Required for ICU Travel Nurse Jobs

Some ICU travel nurse jobs require additional, advanced certifications such as:

  • CCRN (adult)
  • CCRN (pediatric)
  • CCRN (neonatal)
  • CMC (adult)

While not required for every ICU job, these certifications certainly set nurses apart from the pack. At times, you may find that some of these certifications are required by your facility. 

Advanced Certification: CCRN (Adult)

An adult CCRN certification is the basic, run-of-the-mill critical care specialization. 

Nurses that hold this certification are able to work in a number of critical care units including:

  • ICUs
  • Cardiac Care Units
  • Surgical ICUs
  • Transport/flight operations
  • Additional trauma units

Advanced Certification: CCRN (Pediatric)

Not surprisingly, a CCRN certification specializing in pediatric care is a critical care certification for working with youth. Pediatrics are patients that range in age from birth to 21 years old. 

Within this range, there are subcategories:

  • Infants (birth to 2 years old)
  • Childhood (2 to 12 years old)
  • Adolescence (12 to 21 years old)

In addition to these divisions, adolescence has been further broken down into three sub-categories:

  • Early adolescence (12 to 14 years old)
  • Mid adolescence (15 to 17 years old) 
  • Late adolescence (18 to 21 years old)

Nurses with a pediatric CCRN certification can work in all pediatric critical care units including:

  • Hospital ICUs
  • Transport and flight operations
  • Other trauma units 

Advanced Certification: CCRN (Neonatal)

This certification is for nurses who want to work in critical infant care. Technically speaking, the Neonatal phase lasts from birth up until 1 month of age. Just like other CCRN certified nurses, Neonatal CCRN certified nurses can work in a variety of critical care settings including:

  • ICUs
  • Other trauma units
  • Transport and flight operations

Advanced Certification: CMC (Adult)

A CMC certification, or Cardiac Medicine Certification, is for nurses working with adults in cardiac units. 

A nurse with a CMC certification can work in:

  • Home care
  • Heart failure clinics
  • ICUs
  • Electrophysiology units
  • Additional cardiac-related units


icu travel nurse jobs


Landing an ICU Travel Nurse Position: What Makes for an Optimal Candidate?

So what will make you the ideal candidate for your dream ICU travel nurse position? 

It takes more than just being a nurse and choosing the first result when you google “ICU travel nurse jobs near me.”

There are some basic prerequisites to eligibility for ICU travel nurses. 

First, you need to be a certified RN, meaning you have either an associate’s or a bachelor’s in nursing, and you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. 

Second, you must expose yourself to ICU care. Whether you gain that experience during your last year of school, or you work to get your foot in the door once you are a hired nurse, exposure and experience are two must-haves. 

But, to be an effective ICU travel nurse, you need more than just degrees and certificates. Working as a travel nurse in the ICU is a difficult, draining, and demanding job and transitioning in can be difficult

Here are some important, non-academic, skills you will need to succeed as an ICU travel nurse:

  • Knowledge — Spend time refreshing your knowledge on the ins and outs of the ICU.
  • Passion — Working with critical care patients can be draining, emotionally and physically. It is important to have a passion for working in the ICU. 
  • Resilience and tenacity — Each day, you will find yourself staring pain and suffering in the face. You need to have an inner resilience that is tougher than the environment you are working in. 
  • Humility and a learning mindset — The ICU is different from other units, and it is important to remember that it takes time to learn new things. Allow yourself to be curious and to learn instead of rolling with a ‘fake it till you make it’ type of attitude. 
  • A strong self-care routine — Working in the ICU is difficult, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It is important to have steady self-care routines that allow you to take a step back and tend to your own needs. 




The Pros and Cons of Accepting an ICU Travel Nurse Job

Being an ICU travel nurse is not all glamour and adventure. Throughout your ICU assignment, you will have plenty of highs and lows. 

Pros of Being an ICU Travel Nurse

There are many pros to working in the ICU. For example: 

  • You get to provide specialized, intensive care to just a couple of patients at a time.
  • You get to watch patients go from unstable to stable and know that you were a massive part of that transition.
  • You are likely to be highly respected for your ability to work well under pressure and your critical thinking skills.

Cons of Being an ICU Travel Nurse

Just as there are pros, there are also cons to working in the ICU. If you accept an ICU assignment, you will have to deal with:

  • Challenging communication issues with patients’ families
  • Losing patients at higher rates than other units may experience
  • A 24/7 high-pressure, intense environment

How Much Does a Traveling ICU Nurse Make?

Every assignment pays differently, but many ICU travel nurses can make up to $10,000.00 each month but usually earn less. The average wage, per week, for an ICU nurse is about $2,000.00. 

Depending on the needs of the hospital, travel nurses can make even more than some doctors

There is no firm number for exactly what every ICU travel nurse makes. It all depends on various factors such as:

  • What type of facility you are working in — A large hospital may be able to pay more than a small critical care facility. 
  • Where the facility is located — More affluent areas are likely to have higher budgets available. 
  • Your level of education and certification — You will likely be paid more if you have a BSN rather than an ASN, and special certifications will likely increase your paycheck.
  • The timing of your assignment — If you are assigned to a facility that is in desperate need of nurses, you will likely receive a higher pay rate than if you are placed with a facility that has enough staff. 


icu travel nurse salary


If You Are Interested in Pursuing ICU Travel Nurse Jobs, Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help

Working as an ICU travel nurse is a difficult but incredibly rewarding opportunity. With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you have the support you need to step into a fulfilling assignment as an ICU travel nurse. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing has many benefits to offer including:

  • The highest pay rate in the industry
  • Meal, housing, and travel stipends
  • A welcome gift box
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime and double-time opportunities
  • 24/7 access to your own personal Trusted partner
  • Wellness benefits
  • And more

We take our responsibility to our nurses very seriously and are passionate about empowering them to thrive in each assignment. 

If you are looking to branch out into the travel nursing world, Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to help you, every step of the way.