how much money does it cost to become a travel nurse?
No one ever asks this question. Everyone asks, how much do you make as a travel nurse? But it can cost a bit to even get ready to apply to an agency, and here’s why.
First, if you aren’t certified in your specialty, you generally need to pay for and take (and pass) the exam. For ICU specialty (mine) the exam costs $330. ACLS (advanced cardaic life support) renewal is partly reimbursed by my employer but it’s still going to cost me like $60.
Then there’s licenses. If you live in a compact state, you know that you can travel to other compact states to work, no licensing issue. I do not live in a compact state, so I need a nursing license in each and every state I want to work in. Some states, like Vermont, are “walk-through” states, which means you can get your nursing license by endorsement there within a day. Some states, like Hawaii, take only a week or two to go through, so you can generally get your license quickly, in time to work to the place that accepted you. Naturally, I want to work in places that fall into none of these categories, so I’m getting some licenses ahead of time. Alaska costs $275, New York costs $143, California $100, and US Virgin Islands $125.
So far that’s a total of $1033. Not cheap. However, there is good news! My agency will reimburse me for the license fee when I go for the first time to that state for work. But it might come out of my total pay package, which isn’t really reimbursement. Good thing I got a decent tax return this year! The important thing is that I definitely want to go to all 4 of these places, so I’d need the licenses eventually, and by having them already paid for I stand a better chance of being submitted quickly to those assignments.
There’s also the week or even two that I’m not working at my permanent job because I’m packing and getting ready to move to my first travel job.
So there ya go. I continue to talk to agencies and recruiters but I think I have them narrowed down to three!