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Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Nurses play an important role in the medical field by providing care to patients. There are many types of nursing positions available, including agency nurse and travel nurse. Both of these positions have their own set of responsibilities and qualifications. In this article, we compare and contrast agency nurses and travel nurses, and we provide information on how to become a nurse.

What is an Agency Nurse?

Agency Nurses are contracted through a staffing agency to work at a variety of healthcare facilities on a temporary basis. Agency Nurses often work in hospitals or clinics, but can also work in long-term care facilities, schools, camps or home health settings. Agency Nurses typically have more flexibility than staff Nurses in terms of choosing their work schedule and assignments. Agency Nurses are responsible for providing direct patient care, monitoring patients’ vital signs and administering medication. They also document patients’ medical histories and keep track of their progress. Agency Nurses must be able to work well independently and be adaptable to different work environments.

What is a Travel Nurse?

Travel Nurses are registered nurses who work in temporary positions at healthcare facilities around the country. They typically work 13-week assignments and may work at multiple facilities during their career. Travel Nurses are responsible for providing direct patient care, monitoring vital signs and administering medication. They also work with patients to develop treatment plans and educate them on their condition. Travel Nurses collaborate with other members of the healthcare team to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse

Here are the main differences between an agency nurse and a travel nurse.

Job Duties

Both travel and agency nurses have similar job duties, including taking patient histories, performing physical exams, administering medications as prescribed by doctors and documenting their patients’ conditions. The major difference between the two is that an agency nurse has to find a new job with each new assignment, while a travel nurse can take time off in between assignments or leave the nursing profession altogether.

Travel nurses often work long hours, especially during peak seasons such as winter and summer. They may also need to relocate frequently to reach different destinations. Conversely, agency nurses usually work standard 40-hour work weeks and have more flexibility in choosing which jobs they accept.

Job Requirements

Agency nurses typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, although some employers may accept candidates with an associate degree. Agency nurses must also be licensed as registered nurses (RNs) and have at least one year of experience working in a hospital or other medical setting. Some agencies may require additional certifications, such as Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

Travel nurses usually need to meet the same educational requirements as agency nurses. In addition, many travel nursing companies prefer candidates who have at least two years of experience working as an RN. Some companies may also require travel nurses to have specific certifications, such as BLS or ACLS.

Work Environment

Travel nurses typically work in hospitals, medical centers and other healthcare facilities. They may travel to different locations for each assignment, depending on the needs of their employer. Agency nurses usually work in a single location, such as an outpatient clinic or doctor’s office. These professionals often have more predictable schedules than travel nurses because they don’t travel between assignments.

Travel nurses can experience many different environments during their assignments. Some travel nurses work in cities, while others work in rural areas. Travel nurses also spend time working with patients in emergency rooms, operating rooms and intensive care units.


There are several similarities between agency nurses and travel nurses in terms of the skills they use on the job. Both types of nurses need to have excellent clinical skills in order to provide high-quality patient care. They also both need to be able to effectively communicate with patients, families and other members of the healthcare team. In addition, both agency nurses and travel nurses need to be able to adapt to new environments quickly and be able to work independently.

There are some differences in the skills used by agency nurses and travel nurses. Agency nurses typically work more closely with hospital staff and may need to be able to navigate hospital politics. Travel nurses often work in multiple facilities and may need to be more flexible in their schedules. In addition, travel nurses may need to be more self-sufficient as they are often working in unfamiliar environments.


The average salary for an agency nurse is $68,965 per year, while the average salary for a travel nurse is $82,939 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the location of the job, the level of experience the nurse has and the type of facility in which they work.


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