Travel nursing jobs became widespread during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as hospital administrators scrambled to maintain staffing levels. Many media reports have focused on an abrupt drop in travel nurse jobs.

However, while demand is down from the historic highs reached during the pandemic, the job market for travel nurses in Texas and around the nation remains relatively strong.

Aya Healthcare, one of the nation’s biggest suppliers of travel nurses, recently reported it typically has between 8,000 and 12,000 openings for travel nurses. And nursing executives continue to say that staff retention, layoffs, and retirements create significant roadblocks to maintaining proper nurse staffing levels.

These challenges for administrators translate into job opportunities for staff and travel nurses. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statists projects annual growth of 200,000 nursing jobs annually between now and 2031.

With fewer travel nurse positions available, competition for these jobs is higher than ever. Nurses earning an online RN to BSN degree or a Master of Science in Nursing enjoy a competitive edge over their peers.

What Is Travel Nursing?

Travel nurses are registered nurses who take short-term jobs at hospitals, clinics, and medical services operations. They typically work for an independent agency, although Health Affairs reports that healthcare provider and insurer UPMC plans to start an in-house travel nurse agency.

Travel nursing first rose to prominence in the 1980s due to nursing shortages. It exploded in growth during the pandemic around the country, including Texas, a state which already faced a significant nursing shortage. 

While hiring has slowed since that peak, healthcare administrators are seeking ways to maintain staffing levels in the face of many nurses retiring and the seasonal uptick in covid cases.

The Benefits of Travel Nursing

Travel nurse salaries remain the biggest draw for nurses with the flexibility to take on short-term contracts. During the pandemic,  travel nurse salaries in Texas reached $127,000, or about $2,338 per week. Salary levels remain strong. Indeed reports an average travel nurse salary in Texas of $2,233 per week, although pay varies greatly depending on location.

Travel nurses also receive either free housing or a stipend for housing costs. The salaries and housing benefits represent two of the biggest pros of taking a travel nurse position. The cons include having a short-term job that does not last long and living in an unfamiliar setting (for some, however, that’s a pro as they like discovering new places).

Preparing for a Travel Nursing Career

Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing opens the door to winning a job as a travel nurse. HCU offers an online RN to BSN program that provides nurses the training to succeed in the challenging, rewarding travel nursing field.

Nurses must gain a year of experience in the specialty they plan to work in, determine the locations they are willing to work, and the types of work contracts they prefer.

Becoming a travel nurse adds a potentially lucrative specialty for nursing school graduates. While demand is not at the levels seen during the pandemic, it’s still possible to find a travel nursing job matching your interests and talents that provides a competitive travel nurse salary.