Travel Nurses – Which Specialties are in Demand?


Travel nurses continue to be in demand, so in reality all specialties are being recruited at this time. However, there are certain specialties that may require a different education background, or more experience. Also, specialties can vary from season to season, based on location and the ever-changing environment of healthcare.

The trend shows that the demand for travel nurses will continue to increase due to the increase of chronic conditions and because people are living longer. Although the following list is not all of the specialties in demand it does include some of the top ones.

If becoming a travel nurse is something you’re interested in you will want to try to get some experience in the following areas, along with the necessary education.

ER (Emergency Room)

There are emergency rooms everywhere. Because emergency rooms handle such a variety of situations, for example, horrific car accidents, drug overdoses, gunshot wounds, etc. an ER nurse must be prepared to deal with everything. Due to the wide variety of skill sets necessary ER nurses are almost always in demand. So a travel nurse with trauma and/or critical care experience will always be needed.

Although all that is required education wise is an RN license, it is helpful to have either some experience or some coursework related to emergency room nursing.

NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care)

When babies are born prematurely there are sometimes major complications. A NICU nurse works with the physicians to give critical care to the newborn. The neonatal intensive care nurses also help educate the parents with feeding and caring for their premature child. Travel nurses with this background will also be in demand.

This role requires not only an RN license, but also NICU certification, which must be attained through the American Association of Critical Care Nursing.

OR (Operating Room)

OR nurses are involved in more than just the surgery. Operating room nurses are involved not only during the surgery but also before and after. They are sometimes referred to as Perioperative Registered Nurses. OR nurses are involved in helping to plan and perform successful surgeries. They also work with the family, the patient and any other professionals that may be involved in the procedure.

The education necessary for this position is an RN license, with a BSN, a hospital diploma or an associate degree in nursing.

ICU (Intensive Care Unit)

Also known as critical care nursing an ICU nurse must have advanced skill sets to be able to care for critically ill patients. Critically ill patients can end up in life-threatening situations very quickly. Someone needs to be there to give the necessary care immediately.

To be an ICU nurse you will need to be an RN with general patient care experience. If you also have Certified Critical Care designation and/or a BSN you will be ahead of the curve.


TELE (Telemetry)

A telemetry nurse is always in high demand. These types of nurses work in surgical units and are highly trained to help post op patients. They also help with cardiac monitoring, arterial lines, central venous pressure lines and intravenous therapy drips.

TELE nurses must have an RN license with a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) along with a Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) designation.

There is currently a shortage of nurses which is expected to increase by 20% over the next five years. In order to make yourself as marketable as possible, before traveling, you will want to make sure you get as much experience in a specialty area as you can. Having a BSN and/or certifications in specialty areas will also help you along the way.

Travel nursing agencies look for travel nurses with different kinds of experiences, specialties in more than one area. They also want someone who is willing to continue their education and growth. Being a travel nurse is in part about gaining more and different types of experiences.

Travel nurses help hospitals fill in where there are shortages so that patient care does not suffer. They may also be able to help hospitals bring in experienced nurses to help more inexperienced nurses as they learn the ropes in specialty areas.


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