Travel Nurse Job Outlook: Most In-Demand Specialties & More

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

Travel Nurse Job Outlook: New Trends, Opportunities & More

What’s in store for the travel nursing profession as we move into the autumn and winter months of 2022, and as the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) comes closer to ending? Here’s an updated travel nurse job outlook from the experts at CareerStaff, your source for America’s best travel nursing jobs.

Travel Nurse Job Outlook: Demand Still Strong as PHE Winds Down

The biggest story in travel nursing over the past few years has been the Covid-19 pandemic, and that hasn’t changed as we close out 2022. Because of intense demand from facilities experiencing shortages, as well as loosened restrictions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the public health emergency (PHE), the use of travel nurses surged like never before during the pandemic.  

In the past, travel nurses were hired mostly to help provide facilities in remote areas that couldn’t find the workers they needed in their immediate area. The shortage of nurses in those areas has only gotten worse over the past decade or so, leading to a steady growth in travel nurse job opportunities. And this was all helped along by the expansion of the Nurse Licensing Compact (NLC/eNLC), which lets nurses work in dozens of states with a single license.

States in the Nurse Licensing Compact as of 2022

> Do you live in an enhanced Nurse Licensing Compact state? Check out our eNLC guide for a rundown of what states are in the compact, and what opportunities are available for traveling nurses.

Then, during the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE), the use of travel nurses skyrocketed. Especially for those skilled in acute care — and particularly ICU nurses — demand was so high that experienced nurses had no shortage of opportunities to choose from, while also enjoying record-breaking paychecks.

Although the CMS has adjusted some details, the PHE is still technically in effect. The nature of the pandemic has changed, with vaccinations now widespread and hospitals now better prepared for Covid-19. Yet the demand for travel nurses is still high, and that isn’t likely to change.

In fact, hospitals and other facilities that have depended upon travel nurses to meet their patient care needs during Covid-19 will likely continue doing so. And, while the amount of pay that travel nurses can expect may not match the peaks of 2020 and 2021, the average pay rate is still encouraging. Nurse.org has a helpful state-by-state breakdown of current travel nursing pay rates.

“The salary for a travel nurse varies the most amongst all of the nursing professions,” according to Nurse.org. “During the pandemic, travel nurses made more money than ever before. This was a direct result of the increase in patients, a decrease in healthcare staff due to the virus, and the ongoing staffing shortages. It’s important to note that these VERY high rates are not expected to last.”

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Travel Nurse Job Outlook: Today’s Most In-Demand Specialties

With that in mind, the travel nurse job outlook is great for those looking to continue this exciting career path. Whether it’s a full-time lifestyle, a way to make money between full-time jobs, or a means to earn extra income during retirement, travel nursing continues to offer a wide range of opportunities for skilled and motivated nursing professionals.

And, as one of the nation’s leading travel nursing recruitment agencies, CareerStaff has an insider’s perspective into the most in-demand kinds of nurses. As we move into flu season 2022, these are the specialties leading the travel nurse job outlook:

#1 In Demand Specialty: Step Down / Progressive Care Nurses

As summer 2022 winds to a close, step down/progressive care is by far the most in-demand travel nursing specialty, with literally hundreds of jobs available across the country. This is a change from earlier in the pandemic, when acute care/ICU nurses represented the most urgently needed type of nurse. Now, nurses specializing in transitioning patients away from intensive care have their choice of job opportunities.

Search Step Down/Progressive Care Travel Nurse Jobs

#2 In Demand Specialty: Medical / Surgical Travel Nurses

Medical/surgical specialists are also in high demand. Involving a wide range of patient care tasks, and requiring an equally wide range of skills, we’re seeing a ton of med/surg jobs not only in hospitals and health centers, but especially in long-term acute care (LTAC) facilities too. Some of these med/surg travel jobs may require further specialization in areas like oncology or wound care.

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#3 In Demand Specialty: Emergency Nurses

Healthcare employers are also seeking emergency room nurses at higher rates than usual. Helping to provide care for patients in need of emergency care, travel emergency nurses currently have their choice of job opportunities pretty much everywhere — we’re currently recruiting ER nurses for assignments in Virginia, California, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, Wyoming, to name just a few locations.

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Travel Nurse Job Outlook: The Future Leads to CareerStaff

No matter what type of specialty you work in, or what type of facility you prefer, you can count on CareerStaff Unlimited to help you achieve your best career. Improve your travel nurse job outlook by joining our nationwide network of jobs today, and get access to opportunities from coast to coast (and then some).

In addition to competitive pay and a great suite of benefits that includes 401(k), full health and dental coverage, life insurance options and more, CareerStaff travelers get access to the industry’s best recruiters.

“My favorite thing about working with CareerStaff is my recruiters — how they make me feel appreciated and always keep me updated,” as Joanna, a CareerStaff Clinician of the Month for May, 2021, told us last year.


You can read more about the benefits of traveling with CareerStaff here, or get the ball rolling by searching all open travel nursing jobs now.

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