How Travel Nurses Can Navigate The Certification Process

How Travel Nurses Can Navigate The Certification Process

Healthcare is dynamic, unpredictable, and constantly evolving. To succeed in this exciting industry, healthcare providers must be flexible and adaptable to the industry’s demands. These HCPS play a crucial role in filling staffing gaps across different states. However, the process of obtaining certification in various states can be intricate and requires careful navigation. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the steps and considerations for becoming a certified traveling nurse.

1. Understanding the Basics of Traveling Nurse Certification

Before embarking on your journey as a traveling nurse, it’s essential to understand the fundamental requirements and processes. Start by ensuring you possess a valid Registered Nurse (RN) license in your home state. If your home state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), consider obtaining a compact nursing license, which facilitates practicing in multiple states without the need for additional licenses.

2. Researching State-Specific Requirements

Every state has its own set of rules and regulations governing nursing licensure. A crucial step in the certification process is conducting thorough research on the specific requirements of the state where you intend to work. Luckily, you can find all your important information regarding requirements on a State Board of Nursing’s official website.

3. Verification of Education and Credentials

Many states may require verification of your education and credentials as part of the application process. To streamline this step, ensure that your nursing school sends official transcripts directly to the state’s nursing board. This verification process is critical for establishing your eligibility to practice as a nurse in the respective state.

4. Submitting the Application

The application process is a pivotal stage in obtaining certification as a traveling nurse. Access the application forms from the state nursing board’s website and complete them meticulously. Optimize your application by including relevant keywords related to your qualifications and the state you’re applying to. Certain facilities use automated processes to sift through resumes, which makes this an important step.

5. Background Check and Fingerprints

To ensure that HCPs meet a certain standard of moral character, you may be asked to submit to a criminal background check and a fingerprint scan. Do not be alarmed, and be prepared to comply with these mandates and follow the state’s guidelines for completing these steps. You can do your research online beforehand, to make sure you are aware of the specifics of the process.

6. Additional Examinations

Some states may impose additional examinations, such as state-specific exams or jurisprudence exams. Do your research on the nursing license exam in each state, and look for relevant review material to ensure you are sufficiently prepared.

7. Continuing Education

Continuing education is a cornerstone of nursing practice. States often have specific educational requirements for license renewal. Ensure you are aware of and meet these requirements to keep your certifications up-to-date. Google continuing education requirements by state to find accurate and relevant information regarding ongoing education expectations. Note that this only applies to states outside of the NLC.

8. Wait Patiently

After submitting your application, expect a waiting period as the state nursing board processes your documents. Use this time wisely by staying informed about the typical processing times in your desired state. It is also highly recommended that you submit your application and requirements in advance, to avoid any untimely delays or late fees.

9. Temporary Licenses

Some states offer temporary licenses, allowing you to start working while awaiting your permanent certification. The exact process will vary depending on where you want to work, so do your research to make sure whether or not this option is available to you at all.

10. Maintaining Multiple State Licenses

For those planning to work in multiple states outside the NLC agreement, maintaining active licenses in each location is imperative. Stay updated on license renewal requirements for each state to ensure a seamless transition between assignments..

11. Partnering with Nurse Staffing Agencies

Nurse staffing agencies can be valuable allies in the certification process for traveling nurses. These agencies specialize in placing healthcare professionals in diverse locations and often have experience navigating the intricacies of licensure requirements across states. Do sufficient research to make sure that the agency you are signing up with is reputable.


Becoming a certified traveling nurse can be a convoluted process at times. Different boards of nursing have different laws, and you have to be aware of this. As long as you stay informed, prepare all your relevant documents, and avoid rushing anything, however, you should be fine.  Whether you’re a seasoned traveling nurse or just beginning your journey, staying informed and leveraging online resources will empower you to navigate the complexities of nursing licensure with confidence.

Read: Travel Nursing: 4 Things You Should Know

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