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Can You be a Travel Nurse with No Experience? 

November 22, 2021

You're a new nursing school graduate, and you've passed (or are preparing to pass) your NCLEX exam. Now, you're looking for a job, and travel nursing has become the topic of conversation all over the USA. One of the most common questions that keep coming up is: can you be a travel nurse with no RN experience?  

The short answer is: no, you need at least 1 year of RN experience. However, you should be aware that different agencies and facilities have different requirements for hiring. Still, below we will outline three things you can do to get your first travel nursing assignment as a new graduate.  

Can You Get a Travel Nurse Assignment as a New Graduate?  

Travel nursing is a unique career niche. Since facilities need people who can hit the ground running, they like to hire travelers. While most facilities require their travel nurses to have 1 year of RN experience in their specialty, don't give up. You can start working toward your travel RN career.  

It's critical to have some experience before taking travel nurse assignments because these facilities need travelers. They don’t have travel nursing jobs available to candidates with no prior RN experience.

Consider it professional preparation time. After all, you don't want to take on a position with no clue what to do because you're still learning. You want to be confident in your skills when you join a new facility, new team, or new floor.  

How to build your RN experience:  

  • Pay attention. Learn everything you can if you’ve just started your first staff position. The more you learn and the more confidence and flexibility you demonstrate, the more opportunity you’ll be given as a new traveler.  
  • Build relationships/create references. Be the one who is willing to fill in when needed and be a team player. Also, accept feedback and do what you can to make life easier for managers.  
  • Talk to experienced travel nurses and ask them for tips on landing your first travel assignment.  

What Documents are Required to Apply as a Travel Nurse?  

One of the most important things you can do when applying as a travel nurse is to create your travel nurse resume.  

Below, we will explain what goes into your healthcare resume to be ready to build yours. Your profile is your key to unlocking an amazing career as a travel nurse. Once you do start travel nursing, you’ll want to include all travel nurse experience on your resume as well.


While you are working on your 1 year of RN experience, start working with your recruiter and applying for licensure in the states you are interested in working. Some states take longer than others, so it’s best to get started early. Another option is to obtain a compact or multistate license that will allow you to work in several states across the country.  

Timeline showing how long it takes to get a state nursing license.

What Skills do You Need to be a Travel Nurse?  

The more skills you have, the better. Be sure to document all of your skills, including those that you acquire after you start working and traveling. Keep your recruiter informed so that they can keep your profile up to date. Keep in mind that experience at a trauma or teaching hospital will look great on your resume.

Your best advocates are yourself and your recruiter. A successful travel nurse hits the ground running and doesn't need a lot of handholding. Every new skill you can get pushes you higher on the list of desirable candidates.  

Another tip to landing travel nursing positions is limiting your demands for days off and being flexible in where you're willing to go.

Begin Travel Nursing with AdvantisConnect

So, when you start nursing, you may ask the question: can I be a travel nurse with no prior RN experience? Unfortunately, you can’t get a travel nursing job without at least 1 year of RN experience, but you can work on that while you’re in school. Once you have enough experience to begin travel nursing, sign up on AdvantisConnect to view all available positions across the nation and apply to jobs with the click of a button.

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