Location-flexible work is becoming more and more of a priority for workers. People want to see the world, so they’re seeking jobs that allow them—or even encourage or require them—to travel. Even careers that have been traditionally locked into a specific location, such as nursing, are becoming location-flexible. Travel nursing isn’t anything new, but it’s becoming more popular as a way for nurses to serve others and enjoy travel while doing so.
With that increase in popularity, more travel nursing agencies are forming, which can make it tough for aspiring travel nurses to choose the right agency. The travel nursing agencies described in this article represent the best in the U.S. thanks to their competitive pay, housing assistance, benefits, and variety of assignment types.
Best Overall : Triage Staffing
Why We Chose It: Triage Staffing has amassed countless favorable reviews from nurses, and the agency is known to support and care for its employees.
Competitive pay and outstanding benefits
Smaller, more intimate agency than some others
Weekly direct deposit
Extremely long and thorough recruitment process may feel tedious for some
Only offers 13-week assignments (the standard, but some other agencies offer four- to 26-week assignments)
A well-rounded travel nursing agency, Triage Staffing offers 13-week contracts in all 50 states. Any nurse with at least two years of clinical experience can accept assignments through Triage Staffing.
Travel nurses with Triage get paid weekly via direct deposit. Pay depends on a lot of factors, such as location, how many hours you work, whether you work nights or days, specialty, and whether you choose to receive a housing stipend or prepaid housing. Overtime, bonuses, and per diems also factor in.
As for benefits, Triage Staffing offers nurses a package with national health insurance, a Health Savings Account, dental and vision insurance, a 401(k), and vacation time, all of which start immediately. Triage also reimburses education and certification costs annually.
One thing that stands out about Triage Staffing is its emphasis on transparency, especially when it comes to working conditions at contract locations. For example, the website reads, “That gig near the ocean may not be a day at the beach." This indicates that Triage isn’t afraid to divulge the details about contracts, an honorable thing to do since travel nursing gigs aren’t often a walk in the park. Travel nurses often encounter challenging working conditions, especially in remote locations or crisis response areas.
Triage frequently appears on “best of” lists and has been recognized by Inc. magazine and Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA). It also has high ratings and favorable reviews across job search websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor, although some reviews indicate that the recruitment process is lengthy compared to that of other agencies. If you’re looking for a very quick assignment, you may need to be upfront with your recruiter or try another agency.
Best for New Nurses : Aureus Medical Group
Why We Chose It: A dedicated student outreach program connects new and soon-to-be nurses with the agency and educates nursing students about travel nursing as a career.
Medical mentoring program connects first-time travelers with success mentors
Long-standing agency in business since 1984
Loyalty bonus program (earn an extra $600 for every 600 hours worked)
Healthcare benefits don’t start until day 30
Some reviews indicate this company is only as good as the recruiter you get
In business since 1984, Aureus Medical Group places registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). For all licensure types, Aureus offers placements in various specialties, from medical/surgical to cath lab. Pay depends on location, qualifications, and experience needed for each position.
Aureus Medical Group stands out as the best travel nursing agency for new nurses thanks to its student outreach and medical mentoring programs. The agency pairs students and new graduates with employment counselors and mentors who previously traveled, so they know the ins and outs of the career. This program can help ease some of the stress and anxiety that comes with graduating nursing school for those interested in beginning a travel career right off the bat.
While Aureus itself doesn’t appear as frequently as others on “best of” lists, its parent company, Medical Solutions (which was featured on BluePipes’ 2020 list of best travel nursing agencies), does. In general, Aureus Medical Group receives favorable reviews, but it’s worth pointing out that several Indeed and Glassdoor reviews report communication struggles and lack of support from recruiters.
Nurses interested in Aureus Medical Group should ensure they’re connected with a recruiter who’s a good fit for their needs. For those interested in working with Aureus Medical Group, you can get started by emailing the nursing division. In your initial email, describe the type of relationship you want with your recruiter and ask if it’s possible to speak with more than one recruiter before committing.
Best for Benefits : RN Network
Why We Chose It: RN Network offers a robust suite of day-one benefits, providing travel nurses with the same package options as the company’s corporate employees.
Nurses can customize compensation packages based on needs and priorities
Extensive housing assistance and placement that’s pet- and family-friendly
Easy, intuitive online job search platform
Some reviews indicate compensation isn’t as high as other agencies
Not all recruiters offer the best support
Benefits should be top-of-mind for all travel nurses, considering the fact that travel nurses uproot their lives for their contracts. RN Network thinks so, too.
RN Network allows travel nurses to completely customize their pay and benefits package, although compensation does depend on geographic location, qualifications, and gig details. RN Network travel nurses will enjoy travel reimbursement, 401(k) contributions, referral bonuses, generous overtime pay, and assignment completion bonuses.
In addition, RN Network offers day-one health, dental, and vision insurance, as well as credentialing assistance, free continuing education courses, life insurance, and access to the 24/7 telehealth platform Teladoc for personal health needs.
RN Network nurses can choose to use the agency’s housing concierge service or use a housing stipend to find their own living arrangements. This agency employs RNs and LPNs. With ratings above four stars on multiple platforms, RN Network is also known for quickly helping travel nurses find ideal contracts and housing.
Best Support for Nurses : FlexCare Medical Staffing
Why We Chose It: FlexCare’s track record of exceptional reviews and designations makes this agency a clear favorite of travel nurses around the country.
Emphasis on a single point of contact for nurses
Outstanding track record of favorable reviews and “best of” designations
$1,000 referral bonus program
Must register on the agency’s website for access to pay rate information and customized job alerts
Doesn’t guarantee low census pay
Travel nurses deserve exceptional support and guidance from the agency they choose to work with, and nurses can expect that from FlexCare Staffing. This travel nursing agency prides itself on its “S1NGLEPOINT” mission, which aims to provide every travel nurse with a single point of contact who can handle everything from compensation to travel to lodging.
FlexCare also has one thing many other travel nursing agencies don’t: Pre-contract access to pay ranges and contract details with its Premier Traveler Access program. Prospective nurses can view estimated compensation for gigs without getting tangled up in the recruitment process—all they have to do is make an account online.
In addition to competitive salaries, FlexCare travel nurses receive referral bonuses and standard benefits, including health, vision, and dental insurance, as well as housing assistance and licensure reimbursement.
Best for Crisis Assignments : Aya Healthcare
Why We Chose It: Aya Healthcare is one of the largest travel agencies for healthcare professionals in the U.S. In addition to temporary assignments, Aya also offers permanent placements and hard-to-beat benefits.
Exceptional benefits package, including sick pay
Employs all nurse specialties, as well as allied health professionals and doctors
Offers a future travel nurse scholarship for nursing students
Large agency size might make you feel like “just a number”
Some reviews report initial hiccups and lack of communication during recruitment
Aya Healthcare is one of the largest travel nursing agencies in the U.S. and offers placements for all specialties in all parts of the U.S., including crisis and disaster response areas. As of February 2021, more than 20,000 travel nursing contracts were available, which goes to show just how large of an agency this is.
Nurses looking specifically for crisis assignments can easily browse open jobs and see pay ranges by creating an account online. Aya Healthcare employs RNs, LPNs, and CNAs, as well as nurse managers, personal care attendants, and clinical support service professionals.
In addition to its massive database of job listings, Aya Healthcare provides everything prospective travel nurses should look for. The agency provides pet-friendly company housing or a housing stipend; medical, life, dental, and vision insurance; 401(k) matches; expedited licensure; and carefully matched assignments to ensure nurses end up with contracts that best suit their goals and needs.
Like all other travel nursing agencies, pay at Aya Healthcare depends on location, qualifications, and contract details such as specialty and hours. But nurses can rest assured they’ll be well taken care of, thanks to the agency’s many accolades and awards including the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval.
Best for Continuing Education : Travel Nurse Across America
Why We Chose It: A robust continuing education program makes Travel Nurse Across America a phenomenal option for nurses looking to further their education and licensure while traveling and working.
Offers self-paced continuing education courses
Offers RN to BSN tuition reimbursement and BSN scholarships
Weekly pay and competitive rates
Full-team support versus one-on-one recruiter support
Large agency size might feel off-putting or unsupportive to nurses who like tight-knit companies
For travel nurses looking to further their education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or for those simply looking for an easy way to earn continuing education credits, Travel Nurse Across America (TNAA) is the agency to choose.
TNAA partners with Aspen University to provide a BSN program that nurses can complete in as little as 12 months. Upon completion, TNAA provides full tuition reimbursement. Just keep in mind you must be working with TNAA throughout your entire BSN program and continue working with TNAA for at least one more 13-week assignment to receive reimbursement. TNAA also offers self-paced continuing education courses and BSN scholarships.
Interestingly, TNAA takes a full-team approach versus the single-point approach most other travel nursing agencies take. This means prospective nurses may be communicating with agency employees in a variety of departments, from housing to taxes.
TNAA does offer career counseling for travel nurses, as well as other benefits such as health insurance, expedited single-state licensure, day-one paid sick leave, 401(k) contributions, travel reimbursement, and guaranteed pay even in low census situations.
Each travel nursing agency on this list boasts generous pay, a robust benefits package, and mostly favorable online reviews. Ultimately, though, the best travel nursing agency is different for every traveling nurse. Nurses may choose a travel nursing agency based on contract locations, compensation, housing, benefits, contract length, or any other number of factors.
Prospective travel nurses should definitely shop around and get in touch with recruiters from multiple agencies to ensure they end up with the best possible contract and assignment.
|Best Travel Nursing Agencies|
|Travel Nursing Agency||Why We Chose It||Unique Feature|
|Triage Staffing||Best Overall||Emphasis on job transparency|
|Aureus Medical Group||Best for New Nurses||Robust student outreach program|
|RN Network||Best for Benefits||24/7 access to telehealth providers|
|FlexCare Medical Staffing||Best Support for Nurses||Premier Traveler Access program|
|Aya Healthcare||Best for Crisis Assignments||Future travel nurse scholarship|
|Travel Nursing Across America||Best for Continuing Education||RN to BSN tuition reimbursement|
What Are Travel Nursing Agencies?
Travel nursing agencies provide job opportunities to nurses who want to work and travel. Most travel nursing agencies have job openings across the country, although some specialize in certain regions (such as the Midwest or Northeast) and some limit placements to crisis or disaster areas. Travel nursing agencies help nurses find short-term job assignments ranging from as little as a few weeks to several months. Recruiters assist with housing, compensation, and benefits.
Do You Need a BSN to Work as a Traveling Nurse?
Most travel nursing agencies do not require nurses to have a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). While a BSN is often considered the gold standard of nursing education, most travel nursing agencies also have plenty of openings for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and registered nurses (RNs).
How Much Money Do Traveling Nurses Earn?
Because travel nurses are often placed at job sites where there is a shortage of nurses or in crisis-response areas, travel nurses can make more money than a full-time nurse at a permanent location.
Your exact compensation depends on several factors, including your education level, licenses, clinical experience, location, and the agency you choose to work with. Most travel nurses get reimbursed for continuing education and travel expenses, and they also get housing assistance in the form of ready-to-live lodging or a stipend. Between your base salary, reimbursements, and stipends, you can expect to make a healthy living as a traveling nurse.
What Are the Benefits of Working With a Travel Nursing Agency?
The majority of travel nursing agencies provide the same or similar benefits as full-time nursing jobs. Travel nurses should ask about dental, vision, and health insurance, as well as 401(k) and IRA options. Sick pay, referral bonuses, and overtime pay are other common travel nursing benefits.
In addition to traditional job benefits, travel nurses also get to see the country. Many travel nurses cite this as the primary benefit to their job. Travel nurses have a lot of flexibility in job location and can request specific assignments in places they want to travel to.
Why Should (or Shouldn’t) I Work as a Traveling Nurse?
Most travel nurses choose their profession because of their combined passions of nursing and travel. The best travel nurses will:
- Love taking on new challenges and learning new things
- Be able to accept feedback and constructive criticism
- Have great adaptability in the workplace
- Have a passion for general and specialty nursing
- Love to travel and experience new places and scenery
- Be able to openly and confidently ask about compensation, benefits, housing, and assignment details, and be willing to negotiate to make sure they receive the best possible assignments for them
In general, travel nursing is easiest for nurses who don’t have children, pets, or other care-taking responsibilities that prevent them from easily uprooting and moving. Travel nursing with kids is doable, but you may find yourself facing limited assignments and housing options.
Overall, travel nursing is truly a perfect opportunity for nurses who love learning new things, seeing new places, and working through challenges.
We compiled this review list using a thorough research process that includes vetting companies based on company history, structure, and size, along with benefits, hiring process, and other perks like tuition reimbursement.
We also looked to nursing industry-specific sites including BluePipes, Travel Nursing Central, Highway Hypodermics, Nurse Journal, Gypsy Nurse, Nurse.org, and Travelnursing.com to check for agency reviews, coverage, and statistics. We also used reviews from travel nurses on job search sites like Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed, and we were able to narrow down the list to travel nursing agencies with a majority of positive reviews and outstanding feedback.
Finally, our writer interacted with customer support from individual agencies and made online accounts where necessary to obtain an overview of what the recruitment process is like for each travel nursing agency that appears here.