What Travel Nursing Specialties Are in Demand? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski


Travel nursing offers a vast array of opportunities in a broad variety of specialties. Not only that, travel nurses get the added advantage of experiencing amazing locations all across the country — and even the world.

You can’t wait to pack your bags and hit the road, but how do you know which travel nursing specialties are in demand? 

In this guide, we walk you through the most needed travel nurse specialties and what is required to fill a position in each area so you can make an informed decision about your next position. 


best specialty for travel nurse


Table of Contents



3 Things To Consider When Choosing a Position as a Travel Nurse (Especially Those in High Demand)

A career as a travel nurse can be an amazing way to get:

  • Outstanding pay
  • Excellent benefits; and 
  • Incredible opportunities to see the world

But before you jump in and make a commitment to an agency for a traveling position, there are some important things to consider. 

Experienced travel nurses may counsel you to do the following:

  • Keep your documentation up-to-date and handy so you are ready when a nursing opportunity presents itself.
  • Read contracts thoroughly so you know exactly what is required of you and what you can expect in return.
  • Prepare for adventure and commit to the challenge. Each hospital or nursing location will have its own personality and way of doing things, so be prepared for some challenges along the way and commit to the long haul. 
  • Get specialty experience. Various nursing specialties will be in demand at different times, so having some specialty experience could result in not only more opportunities but also better pay.

Besides keeping up with these important details, there are three additional factors you should take into consideration, including:

  1. Location
  2. Salary
  3. Demand

Since each of these three factors comes with both benefits and drawbacks, deciding what to pursue can be challenging. 

But don’t worry, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help make your decision about which travel nursing specialty to pursue as easy as possible. We’re here to help you consider all your options while helping you find the travel nursing job you’ve been dreaming of.




#1: Location

The need for travel nurses is continually growing across the U. S., but just because the need for nurses is widespread doesn’t mean the opportunities and experience will be the same across the board.

When considering your travel nurse location, you need to keep in mind that pay and demand are going to change depending on where you go. 

For example, locations that have a higher cost of living will probably offer higher-paying travel nurse positions.

States that currently have higher travel nurse salaries include:

  • Wisconsin
  • California
  • New York
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Pennsylvania
  • Alaska

You might find travel nursing appealing if you’d like to visit more desirable destinations like Florida or Hawaii. The scenery and sights may draw your attention, but you should know that popular locations can also have lower pay.

In addition to this, higher-paying positions are sometimes in disaster relief areas or  locations that have higher rates of accident and illness.


Where Are Travel Nurses Most Needed?

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the following states currently have the highest demand for travel nurses: 

  • California
  • Texas
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania

Higher pay and incentives may accompany nursing jobs to draw nurses to these locations where the needs are more desperate.

But keep in mind that location needs can also change according to the time of year. 

Where are travel nurses most needed in the winter? Generally states like:

On the other hand, states that require more nurses during the summer often include:

  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Alabama


best specialty for travel nurse


#2: Salary

According to All Nursing Schools, an organization committed to helping nurses advance their careers, “Most travel nurse salaries meet or exceed those for permanent nurses with the same qualifications and certifications.”

As we mentioned above, the location of your position can affect your travel nursing salary. 

For example, right now travel nurses in New York can expect to make more there than anywhere else in the country. 

Additionally, according to ZipRecruiter, as of Nov 3, 2024, the average annual pay for a Travel Nurse in the United States is $101,132 a year.

In addition to lucrative salaries, travel nurses may be enticed by other amazing benefits and bonuses like:

  • Paid housing accommodations
  • License reimbursement
  • Scrub reimbursement
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Non-taxed stipends
  • Referral bonuses
  • Retention bonuses


What Is the Highest Paying Travel Nurse Specialty?

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the top ten highest-paying travel nursing specialties as of July 2023 included:

  • Cardiac progressive care unit – $3,284.98 per week 
  • Pediatric intensive care unit – $3,234.58 per week
  • Cardiovascular intensive care unit – $3,149.5 per week
  • Progressive care unit – $3,027.03 per week
  • Cardiovascular operating room – $3,024.76 per week
  • Pediatrics cardiovascular intensive care unit – $3,011.88 per week
  • Electrophysiology lab – $3,002.48 per week
  • First assist – $2,986.97 per week
  • Pediatrics operating room – $2,967.34 per week
  • Operating room circulate – $2,935.49 per week


#3: Demand

The demand for travel nurses continues to remain high. According to Zippia, in 2024 there are an estimated 1,733,502 travel nurses in the United States. 

Some explanations for the high demand for travel nurses include:

  • Overall growth of the travel nurse industry 
  • Seasonal illnesses 
  • Nursing staff fluctuations due to illness, vacation time, or maternity leave
  • Nursing shortages
  • The aging U.S. population
  • Demographics of particular regions of the U.S.
  • Natural disaster and crisis situations
  • Areas with greater needs

Because of the current high demand for travel nurses, if you have been considering a change to this field, there is no better time than the present. 

A variety of nursing jobs with different specialties are currently desired in cities across the United States. 

As a travel nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing, you have the opportunity to maximize your income while also receiving benefits, stipends, and other perks. 

Just use our Pronto job search tool to find high-paying care travel nursing jobs.




Which Travel Nursing Specialties Are in Demand? The 8 Travel Nursing Specialties in Demand Right Now

It’s no surprise that travel nurses with specialties stand to gain higher salaries and lucrative job placements. That’s a huge plus since travel nurses with specialty training are particularly in demand.

Next, we take a close-up look at which travel nursing specialties are in demand and what is required for seeking a traveling position in these desired nursing specialties. 


#1: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) 

The average salary for a traveling neonatal intensive care unit nurse is approximately $128,211 per year.

Neonatal intensive care unit nurses play a critical role in the lives of our youngest patients as they care for newborns born prematurely or with life-threatening issues.

They should be able to exhibit calmness under pressure while showing empathy to families and communicating well with the entire medical team. The fast pace and high pressure of the NICU can create a challenging work environment, so travel nurses in this specialty should be prepared.

Traveling NICU nurses should have the following qualifications:

  • ADN or BSN degree
  • Clinical experience
  • PEDS training
  • PALS certification

Other certifications that can put you at an advantage in this travel nurse specialty include:

  • CNS degree
  • RNC certification for neonatal intensive care nursing
  • Specialty certifications through the AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses)


#2: Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

The average salary for a post-anesthesia care unit travel nurse is approximately $120,888 per year.

Post-anesthesia care unit (or perianesthesia) is a critical nursing specialty. Those who choose this travel nurse specialty care for patients who have undergone anesthesia during surgical procedures, and their responsibilities may include: 

  • Monitoring the patient’s state of recovery from anesthesia and providing updates to the treatment team
  • Checking vital signs and watching for any side effects from anesthesia
  • Making sure bandages and dressing stay dry and secure
  • Administering medications for post-surgical side effects like pain or nausea
  • Communicating patient conditions to family members and walking them through continued care upon discharge
  • Updating patient charts and medical records

Traveling PACU nurses must obtain the following qualifications: 

  • ADN or BSN degree
  • Clinical experience

Additionally, most PACU travel nurses hold the following certificates:

  • Basic Life Support
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support


#3: Oncology

The average salary for an oncology travel nurse is approximately $91,094 per year.

An oncology nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in the treatment of cancer patients of all ages.

Also known as hematology/oncology or heme/onc nurses, their scope of nursing ranges from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, management of symptoms, and remission.

A traveling oncology nurse’s responsibilities will likely encompass: 

  • Reviewing patient health histories
  • Documenting lab, imaging, and pathology studies
  • Monitoring their patient’s physical health and emotional status
  • Administering medications, fluids, and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy
  • Working with doctors and other healthcare workers to formulate and carry out the patient’s prescribed treatment plan
  • Helping their patients and their families understand the disease and treatment plan
  • Advocating on behalf of their patients to doctors and other clinicians
  • Helping their patients understand, plan for, and manage their symptoms and treatment side effects

To become an oncology travel nurse, you must meet the following requirements:

  • ADN or BSN degree
  • Basic Life Support Certification 
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification
  • Clinical experience


#4: Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

The average salary for an intensive care travel nurse is approximately $85,205 per year.

Intensive care nurses may be considered the best of the best when it comes to nursing specialties, possibly because they work with patients who:

  • Have experienced accidents
  • Have had significant or delicate surgeries
  • May be dealing with trauma or life-threatening situations

ICU nurses must possess the confidence and knowledge to deal with ever-changing circumstances and be ready to respond to emergencies as they happen.

To become a traveling ICU nurse you must: 

  • Receive an ADN or BSN degree
  • Pass your NCLEX-RN 
  • Have one year of clinical experience
  • Have your BLS/CPR and ACLS certifications

Being a critical care registered nurse would also be beneficial because it would allow you to work different ICU units, including:

  • Neonatal ICUs
  • Pediatric ICUs
  • Cardiac care units
  • Telemetry units
  • Progressive care units


#5: Emergency Room (ER)

The average salary for a traveling emergency room nurse is approximately $86,737 per year.

Emergency room traveling nurses treat patients in critical condition who may have experienced trauma or severe accidents. 

Nurses working in the ER will benefit from having knowledge and experience and will need to think clearly to make good decisions regarding the care of their patients.

If you thrive on high-energy situations and like variety in your job duties, a traveling position in the emergency room might be just the place for you.

To become a travel emergency room nurse, you must meet the following qualifications: 

  • Obtain an ADN or BSN degree 
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN
  • BLS certification
  • ACLS certification
  • PALS certification
  • NIH Stroke certification
  • Gain experience

Some additional certifications that ER travel nurses may wish to obtain include:

  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC)
  • NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS)
  • Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC)
  • Critical Care 
  • Cardiac Care 
  • Ambulatory Care 
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Care 
  • Crisis Prevention Training


#6: Home Healthcare

The average salary for a traveling home healthcare nurse is approximately $75,459 per year. 

Also referred to as a visiting nurse or a home care nurse, a home healthcare nurse is a healthcare professional who visits patients in their homes. 

These travel nurses play a critical role in their patients’ long-term treatment programs. Home healthcare is an essential requirement for the many patients who are unable to easily leave their homes for appointments, and are most often:

  • Elderly
  • Disabled; or
  • Terminally ill 

A traveling home healthcare nurse’s primary job duties include 

  • Taking vital signs
  • Managing wound care 
  • Administering medications
  • Helping patients with mobility issues
  • Post-surgery care
  • Drawing blood
  • Handling paperwork, charting, and other administrative duties

Home healthcare travel nurses also work closely alongside their patient’s primary care physician and family caregivers. 

Home healthcare travel nurses should hold the following qualifications:

  • An LPN, RN, or BSN 
  • A minimum of 1–2 years of experience working in home health


#7: Telemetry Nursing

The average salary for a telemetry travel nurse is approximately $87,048 per year.

Shortages of ICU beds and the growing need for progressive care increase the demand for telemetry nurses.

Telemetry nurses provide constant monitoring of patients who are experiencing cardiac, respiratory, or renal issues and can act quickly when necessary and communicate well with healthcare providers. 

The ability to accurately assess a situation and act appropriately are skills every traveling telemetry nurse should possess.

Telemetry travel nurses should hold the following qualifications:

  • ADN or BSN degree
  • RN license
  • BLS, ACLS, and PCCN certifications

Telemetry nurses who possess the following sub-specializations may be even more desirable:

  • Med-surg
  • Acute
  • Critical
  • Cardiac care


#8: Operating Room

The average salary for an operating room travel nurse is approximately $101,132 per year.

Operating room travel nursing is not only in high demand but is also one of the highest-paying travel nursing specialties. 

Operating room nurses aren’t only needed in hospitals, but can also be found in surgical centers, day-surgery centers, and clinics.

Traveling operating room nurses have an important job and carry a considerable amount of responsibility. 

They need to be highly skilled and must keep operating rooms clean and sterile at all times. Nurses in this specialty also play a key role in patient advocacy and safety. 

To qualify as an OR nurse, you should:

  • Obtain an ADN or BSN degree 
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Have clinical and OR experience

The following certifications can further strengthen your career as an operating room travel nurse and provide a chance for higher pay:  

  • Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR)
  • Certified Surgical Services Manager (CSSM)
  • Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA)


top travel nurse specialties


Ready To Start Your Journey as a Travel Nurse? Our Pronto Job Search Makes It Easy To Find Your Dream Position

The need for travel nurses is obvious, and the opportunities are vast. 

Whether you are a specialty nurse looking for higher pay or are a nurse who wants to see the world, travel nursing may be just what you’re looking for.

With the plethora of opportunities out there, you may not know where to start.

Let the experts at Trusted Nurse Staffing help you get started in your travel nursing journey. 

To help you find the nursing job of your dreams, our team will:

  • Analyze your education and work experience
  • Discover your goals, interests, and availability
  • Create a list of assignments
  • Help you connect with your top choices
  • Arrange interviews
  • Handle pre-hiring paperwork
  • Find and arrange housing
  • Stay in contact throughout your assignment
  • And much more

And getting started on your journey is as simple as embarking on our Pronto job search. 

Pronto lets you search for jobs based on your preferred specialty, and save search filters so you can easily return to them.

What are you waiting for? Trust us to help you pursue your travel nursing career today.