Travel nursing offers a vast array of opportunities in a variety of fields. 

Not only that, travel nurses get the added advantage of visiting and experiencing places all across the country — and even the world.

Knowing which specialties are in demand can help you decide which direction to take your nursing career.

If you’re asking questions like “Where are travel nurses needed most?” and “What nursing specialties are in demand?”, this guide can give you valuable information to help answer those questions.



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3 Things To Consider When Choosing A Position As A Travel Nurse (Especially Those In High Demand)

Travel nursing can be an amazing way to get

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

…but before making a commitment to an agency for a 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’s required of you and what you can expect in return.
  • Prepare for adventure and commit to the challenge. Adventure awaits as you travel the United States or beyond, so enjoy every moment. Each hospital or nursing location will have its own personality and way of doing things, so expect 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 more opportunities and better pay.

In addition to these details, three major factors you should take into consideration include:

  • Location
  • Salary
  • Demand

These three factors will surely come with both benefits and drawbacks, so deciding what to pursue can be challenging. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing will help you consider all of your options while helping you find the nursing job you’re 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 location, you need to know that pay and demand will change depending on where you go. 

Locations that have a higher cost of living will probably offer higher paying travel nurse positions.

States that tend to have higher travel nurse salaries include:

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Washington

Travel nursing may be 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 may have lower pay.

In addition to this, higher-paying positions may be in locations that have higher rates of accident and illness or may open up in disaster relief areas.

Where Are Travel Nurses Most Needed?

A report presented by the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projected that the following states will continue to have a need for nurses through 2030:

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

Location needs can also change according to the time of year. 

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

  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • Alaska

Conversely, states that require more nurses during the summer 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 mentioned above, location can affect travel nurse salaries. 

For example, travel nurses in California can expect to make more there than anywhere else in the country. 

In places like California, New York, and Massachusetts, it’s not unusual to see hourly wages range from $50.00 to $55.00.

Additionally, according to ZipRecruiter, “As of Nov 3, 2020, the average annual pay for a Travel Nurse in the United States is $99,202 a year.”

In addition to lucrative salaries, travel nurses may be enticed by other 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?

Instead of searching “best specialty for travel nurse” online, let’s look at a 2019 Travel Nurse Compensation Report

The report found that the top ten highest paying specialties with the most demand include:

  • Labor and delivery nurses
  • Operating room nurses
  • Neonatal intensive care unit nurse
  • Post-anesthesia care unit nurse
  • ICU nurses
  • Emergency room nurses
  • Pediatrics nurse
  • Step-down unit nurse
  • Telemetry nurses

#3. Demand

According to a ScienceDirect journal entry from 2017, “Temporary or supplemental nurses account for approximately 30% of the nursing workforce in the United States.”

And SimpliFi reports that travel nursing jobs saw a 44% growth from 2018-2019.

The demand for travel nurses continues to remain high today. 

In 2020, in the United States, there are currently an estimated 25,000 nurses working travel nursing jobs. 

There are various reasons for this demand. 

Some explanations for the high demand for travel nurses include:

  • Our aging population
  • The COVID-19 pandemic
  • Nursing strikes
  • Natural disaster and crisis situations
  • Areas with greater needs
  • Nursing shortages and absences

Because of the current high demand for travel nurses, if you’ve 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. 

Trusted Nurse Staffing should be your first step to finding the nursing job you desire. 

Get started by filling out an online application and skills checklist.




Which Travel Nursing Specialties Are In Demand? The 6 Travel Nursing Specialties In Demand Right Now

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

Reasons for this demand include:

  • The overall growth of the travel nurse industry 
  • Seasonal illnesses and fluctuations
  • A shortage of nurses in general
  • Demographics of particular regions of the U.S.

So, which travel nursing specialties are in demand? 

Below we’ll consider some of the travel nurse specialties currently in demand and what special certificates or training may be necessary.

#1. Intensive Care Nursing

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

  1. Have experienced accidents
  2. Have had significant or delicate surgeries
  3. May be dealing with trauma or life-threatening situations

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

ICU nurses must: 

  • Pass their NCLEX-RN 
  • Be licensed in the state where they practice
  • Have one year of clinical experience
  • Have their 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

#2. Emergency Room Nursing

Emergency room 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, the ER might be just the place for you.

Qualifications for most ER travel nurses include:

  • One year of experience in an acute care facility
  • BLS certification
  • ACLS certification
  • PALS certification
  • NIH Stroke certification

Other qualifications and courses that will set you apart from others applying for ER jobs include:

  • Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course
  • Trauma Nurse Core Course
  • CEN, Certified Emergency Nurse
  • Crisis Prevention Training

#3. Labor And Delivery Nursing

The need for traveling labor and delivery nurses is on the rise. 

To some, labor and delivery nurses have the most rewarding nursing position as they aid in bringing new life into the world and care for moms before and after delivery.

Labor and delivery nurses require a variety of skills to perform a range of duties from basic triage to assisting in delivery. 

Expect an ebb and flow-paced environment where emergency deliveries can arise quickly.

Labor and delivery nurses need to:

  • Possess an ADN or BSN
  • Pass the NCLEX
  • Have one year of experience in an acute care facility (though more may be required)
  • Have BLS, ACLS, PALS, and NRP certifications
  • Have experience in electronic fetal heart monitoring


top travel nurse specialties


#4. Telemetry Nursing

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 are able to act quickly when necessary and communicate well with healthcare providers. 

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

Telemetry travel nurses should hold the following qualifications:

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

Telemetry nurses that have the following sub-specializations may be more desirable:

  • Med-surg
  • Acute
  • Critical
  • Cardiac care

#5. Operating Room Nursing

Operating room nursing is a specialty that is not only in high demand, but it is also one of the highest paying nursing specialties. 

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

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

OR nurses 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:

  • Earn an ADN or BSN
  • Obtain an RN license in the state you will work
  • Have clinical and OR experience
  • Have BLS and ACLS certifications

Holding credentials as a Certified Perioperative Nurse or having other credentials including CNOR, CSSM, and CRNFA can further strengthen your career and chance for higher pay.


best specialty for travel nurse


#6. NICU/PICU Nursing

NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) nurses play a critical role in the lives of our youngest patients. 

NICU nurses care for newborns born prematurely or with life-threatening issues, while those in PICU units work with children and adolescents with serious or life-threatening conditions.

Nurses who work in both units 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 and PICU can create a challenging work environment, so travel nurses in this specialty should be prepared.

NICU and PICU 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 include:

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

Ready To Start Your Journey As A Travel Nurse? Create Your Free Online Profile Today

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

Whether you are a specialty nurse looking for higher pay or are a nurse looking for variety in your vocation that will also allow you to see the world, travel nursing may be just what you’re looking for.

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

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

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

  • Analyze your education and work experience
  • Learn your goals, interests, and availability
  • Create a list of assignments
  • Help you connect with your top choices
  • Arrange interviews
  • Handle pre-hire paperwork
  • Find housing arrangements
  • Stay in contact throughout your assignment

Trust us to help you pursue your travel nursing career today.