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Home The Types of Travel Nurses (Ultimate Handbook)

The Types of Travel Nurses (Ultimate Handbook)

Types of Travel Nurses

Healthcare organizations are always looking to fill their employment vacancies. But did you know that there are a lot of different kinds of travel nurses that can fill each and every demand that healthcare organizations may have? You'd be shocked to know that not just everyone out there is a generic nurse and there are specialties that tie in with higher pay, increased benefits, and the most flexibility that being a travel nurse can offer.

Travel nursing is amazing as it allows nurses to be in control of when they work, how much money they make, and live a lifestyle of their own choosing. You aren't held back by anything that isn't in your control. You'll experience traveling to the assignment destination of your choosing once you get the experience and the credentialing that you need. It's important to balance your goals with your experience, make sure that you make the best out of your strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the specialty, you will get first choice of great destinations like Los Angeles, given you have the proper experience required.

Types of Travel Nurses, What they do on the job, and their salaries:

Psychiatric Travel Nurses:

Psychiatric Travel Nurses travel all around the land providing mental healthcare for a diversity of locations and settings. This specialty of nursing offers some of the best benefits out there because there is a lack of nurses who decide to take this route. Meaning, there is more prestige involved and the benefits are unparalleled due to more demand than supply of registered psychiatric travel nurses.

Psychiatric nurses work in a wide variety of locations from hospitals to even prisons. They treat patients for mental disorders and also look to diagnose these disorders with the help of doctors. Not to mention, they work on a team with other healthcare professionals like psychologists and doctors.

The minimum educational requirement for a PNHN is an Associate’s degree, passing the NCLEX-RN and a nursing license in their state of practice. According to NurseFly, this specialty of travel nursing can make up to $4,460 per week. That is enough cash to be able to pay bills and take time off. If an assignment is particularly stressful, no worries, you can wait it out as long as you have the cash and hop back in somewhere else of your choosing. That is the true and distinct beauty of travel nursing.

Women’s Health (NICU/MBPP/L&D):

Nurses who work in the women’s health department typically work in the NICU, MBPP, and L&D. This sector of nursing is growing in demand, and with this demand, travel nurses in this specialty allow for wonderful opportunities.

Nurses who work in the NICU or the neonatal intensive care unit, you are responsible for caring for newborns born prematurely or have life-threatening illnesses. A nurse in the NICU will have to be calm under immense pressure and empathetic to their patients.


Labor and Delivery Nurses (L&D) nurses monitor and assist mothers and babies before, during, and after birth. This specialty requires nurses to be able to be swift with their actions, particularly during the delivery.

Mother Baby/Postpartum (MBPP) nurses are the mother and baby’s advocate immediately following the birth. The MBPP nurse provides support to the mother and keeps a watchful eye over the post-birth process to ensure there aren’t complications within the first few days afterward.

Operating Room:

The most sensitive and clean room in the hospital is without a doubt the operating room. OR Travel Nurses need to delicately perform their duties in this specialty to ensure that the room itself remains aseptic and clean at all times.

An OR Nurse needs to keep the patient’s best interests at heart, be compassionate, and be knowledgeable about the proper procedures and practices of the operating room. They may also need the knowledge to perform their duties in other operating room settings, these may include assisting the surgeon during surgery, preparing patients for surgery, or providing post-operative care.

Despite all the heavy lifting you’ll have to perform in this role, this is one of the highest-paying specialities for nurses. Surgery is critical for hospitals, so they are typically willing to pay a premium to have a travel nurse with this unique skill set.


Did you know travel nurses can specialize in telemetry? This is a great place to start for first time or newer graduate nurses. It’s a fast-paced, busy environment that facilitates hands-on learning opportunities, which newer nurses are typically looking for.

In the majority of cases, a telemetry nurse will care for patients who need monitoring for cardiac, respiratory, renal, or gastrointestinal issues. They need to adapt at an instant to provide the critical care patients need.


This nursing specialty is also one of the fastest evolving, pivoting to include a broader range of patients due to advances in technology; meaning, more experience for you as a traveling nurse. You’ll also be trained in using various types of equipment, some hospitals have even more modern equipment.

To be a travel telemetry nurse, you will need a certification in basic life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). According to American Mobile, you’ll make between $2,700 and $3,100 weekly in the telemetry specialty as a traveling nurse.

Progressive Care Unit (PCU):

Seasoned travel nurses are looking to shift their expertise, while new ones may be looking for an ideal career path. The Progressive Care Unit or PCU can be a great place for many to start if they are unsure if critical care nursing is the right move for them.

Nurses who work in the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) care for patients that are well enough to be placed outside of the ICU healthcare facilities offer. While the PCU doesn’t require critical care travel nurses, patients in the PCU do in fact require a higher degree of nursing care, and constant surveillance than those in regular rooms.

PCU performance typically mirrors those of their counterparts in the ICU. As a nurse traveler working in a PCU, nurses are required to work with a team of other nurses in a ward, as each patient in the PCU has their own medical needs and requirements.

One of the benefits of this position is that you can work with a multitude of different healthcare teams and that nourishes the travel nurses ability to tackle more assignments in the future. According to NurseFly, you can make up to $5,250 per week in this role.


The last one that we’re going to cover in this article is the medical-surgical travel nursing specialty. It’s the single largest nursing specialty in the United States and the most in-demand for travel nursing.

Med-Surg nurses often work with patients who require special monitoring, including those recently in intensive care. Med-Surg nurses spend a lot of time with patients and their family working through any concerns or questions they may have.

If your skill set lies within being quick-witted, making hard decisions, and you enjoy being active and on your feet then you will likely thrive in this specialty. You’ll need to be level-headed, multitask efficient, and wonderfully organized.

To become a medical-surgical travel nurse, you’ll need to carry a certification called the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) and have at least two years of nursing experience.

The salary for this position is $2,600 to $3,200 per week according to American Mobile.

We hope you learned a lot about the types of travel nurses out there, if you’re looking for your next travel nursing position, don’t forget to check out our free niche healthcare job board, Healthcare Consultant. You should have the answer to if travel nursing is hard or if you should become a travel nurse.