Travel Nurse Practitioner | Jobs & Salary 2023 – Updated
As the primary care provider shortage continues to rise, there is a growing need for traveling nurse practitioners.
What is a Travel Nurse Practitioner?
Travel nurse practitioners are also called locum tenens providers. This means they are filling a temporary staffing need. This can be for a variety of reasons: maternity leave coverage, patient overflow, or filling a recent retiree position while full-time recruiting is underway. Some hospitals and clinics will even hire travel nurse practitioners for vacation coverage and sick leave. Some facilities will hire travel nurse practitioners before hiring on a full-time basis. This means the facility wants to test out the provider before hiring them permanently.
The types of assignments vary as a travel nurse practitioner and are dependent on your skill set. Common workplace locations can include the following:
- Emergency room
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
- Community health centers
- Urgent care
- School health centers
- Doctors’ offices
- Pediatric clinics
- Indian health services
- Senior care centers
- Home health offices
- Air force bases
Travel nurse practitioners receive housing stipends and travel cost reimbursement, which means practitioners basically get to explore new places for free. The biggest advantage to becoming a travel nurse practitioner, similar to becoming a travel nurse, is you also get paid more than you would as a permanent employee.
One downside to becoming a travel nurse practitioner is constantly looking for a new position every few months and new living arrangements. Some may see this as a negative while others may look forward to living somewhere new every few months. The flexibility is great since you don’t have to work holidays and can take as much time off as you want.
Another plus is you are constantly learning and will become more competent working in different clinical settings. When you are ready to settle down as a full-time employee, your resume will certainly stand out!
Here’s a quick guide to becoming a traveling nurse practitioner.
How to Become a Travel Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner Education
Becoming a travel nurse practitioner takes time and significant education. First, you must become an RN by passing the NCLEX and earning your BSN. After gaining the proper experience as a bedside nurse, you will need to apply to an accredited nurse practitioner program. After completing the program and earning state certification in your specialty, you can work as a travel nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Experience
While you can get a position as a travel nurse practitioner without any prior experience, it can be difficult and there will be limited options available. Most positions require a minimum of 2 to 3 years of prior NP experience. For positions in the ER or ICU, the requirement might even be longer.
If you are a new graduate and interested in becoming a travel nurse practitioner, make sure to ask about the orientation process. Most employers will accept a new graduate as long as they make a relatively long commitment (at least 6 months). The orientation process will most likely be lengthy though.
Nurse Practitioner Licensing
To work in various states, you have to obtain both the RN and ARNP licensure for that state. Some states may also have a third license you will need to apply for in order to prescribe medications. It is also necessary to register your DEA certificate with the state you plan on working in for the ability to prescribe controlled substances.
Depending on the state, the licensing process can take 2 weeks to 6 months. Many states offer temporary licenses, which allow you to start working while your permanent license is being processed. Some staffing agencies will assist in the licensing process.
Nurse Practitioner Clinical Settings
Travel nurse practitioners can work in a variety of healthcare settings. Job opportunities will depend on a multitude of factors. According to the BLS, the job outlook for nurse practitioners is 46%. There is an overwhelming need for NPs throughout the country in many healthcare settings. Travel nurse practitioners help fill the void.
Finding Travel Nurse Practitioner Jobs
There are several key steps to finding a travel nurse practitioner position. Finding your first position is typically the hardest and most time-consuming. It gets easier with time and experience. Follow these key steps to help land your dream travel nurse practitioner position:
- Establish a relationship with a recruiter from a staffing agency (establish relationships with multiple agencies to increase job options)
- Determine the locations you are interested in traveling to, the type of facility you want to work in, and salary expectations
- A staffing agency will provide you with a list of job opportunities
- Determine which job you are interested in and have the recruiter submit your resume
- If the facility is interested, they will usually request a phone interview within the next few days
- After the phone interview, the employer will make an offer within 24 hours
- Upon accepting an assignment, you will need to sign a contract dictating the terms of the assignment which may be negotiable
- Start credentialing and the onboarding process
How Much Does a Travel Nurse Practitioner Make?
Travel nurse practitioners have the ability to make a significant salary. According to the BLS, nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of $120,680. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $79,870, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $200,540.
Typically, travel positions earn a higher wage than staff positions. The hourly rate is higher, and the majority of their pay comes in the form of stipends, which are generally tax-free. It’s important to note that some travel nurse practitioners will not qualify for overtime or bonuses.
According to ZipRecruiter, as of December 2022, travel nurse practitioners earn an average annual salary of $129,154.
The top 5 cities for Travel Nurse Practitioners
San Francisco, CA
Travel nurse practitioners can earn higher wages depending on their specialty and also the need. For example, a psychiatric travel nurse practitioner earns an average annual salary of $295,518 or $142.08 per hour.
On top of an hourly salary, travel nurse practitioners may also receive additional benefits including but not limited to:
- License reimbursement
- Health, dental, and vision insurance
- Loan forgiveness
- Life insurance
- Travel reimbursement
- Continuing education classes
- Tuition reimbursement
Specific benefits will vary based on the staffing agency. These benefits come from the staffing agency, not the facility you work for.
Travel Nurse Practitioner Jobs FAQ
Travel nurse practitioners can work as travel nurses. All NPs also are required to maintain an active RN license in the state they are working in. One of the biggest challenges for travel NPs is to remember their scope of practice is limited and very different when working as a nurse. Some facilities will not want to hire a travel nurse that has an NP license for this reason.
Yes, travel nursing as a nurse practitioner is very much a thing! Travel NPs have the ability to make a significant amount of money in a very short period of time. You also get to travel the country and experience new and exciting locations all while working at a facility of your choosing.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, as of December 2022, the highest-paid travel nurse practitioner position is for psychiatric nurses. Psychiatric travel nurse practitioner earns an average annual salary of $295,518 or $142.08 per hour.
Most travel nurse practitioners will have clinical experience working as an NP prior to traveling. Some agencies will work with new graduates, but contracts will be limited and there may be a lengthy orientation process. Most staffing agencies and facilities require a minimum of two to three years of experience prior to signing a travel nurse practitioner contract.
Why I Love Being A Travel Nurse Practitioner
For me, being a travel NP has been incredible! There is always a new adventure coming along, and it is a great way to avoid burnout working in medicine. I enjoy traveling to different places and learning while working in diverse clinical settings. I would recommend this experience to anyone looking for an exciting, lucrative career.