Travel Nurse Job Market Looks Bright in 2021

High Five

States, including California, are getting closer and closer to fully reopening, and the need for nurses will continue to be strong. That’s great news! And the even better news is that staff nurses are beginning to take a much-needed break. The combination of those two developments means that there will be an abundance of travel nurse and allied assignments. Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunities.


With the continued slowdown of COVID-19, some specialties are in high demand as people begin to feel safe again going back to the doctor or hospital. OR nurses and surg tech jobs are in high demand due to an increase in requests for elective procedures. But the outlook for most primary specialties is promising so if you want to be in the front of the line, there are several things you can do to prepare. 

First, the Outlook

As we write this article the true depth of the events that have unfolded since early 2020 seems to have been fully realized and the spread of the virus is slowing. That is truly great news. Although the once prevailing sentiment was that the demand for travel clinicians would slow down, that does not seem to be the case. 


In addition to and because of demand, travel nurse and allied pay packages continue to be higher than normal so this is a great time to start your travel career. The forecast shows an immediate demand in labor and delivery (L&D) and OR. L&D has often been a summer season need so we are expecting a higher than normal year. ER and orthopedics may also see a seasonal increase as people spend more time in recreational activities over the summer months.

#1: Be Selective But Be Ready

Where we once told travelers to take whatever assignment came their way, you can now be a little more selective about location. Just remember that the facility that hires you really needs you to be ready to go. Use the time to sharpen your skills and maybe choose a city that you would not have necessarily traveled to at another time. Seize the adventure.

#2: Network with Previous Managers

If you’ve done travel assignments in the past, reach out to the managers at those facilities and let them know you’re ready. Managers will naturally gravitate to travelers who have experience in their facility.

#3: Create Your Plan

Be ready to roll as facilities begin doing more elective procedures and towns get back to a new, albeit modified, normal. Know where you want to go, communicate that to your recruiter, and make sure you have the documentation you need.

#4: Update Profile Information

Create a digital profile if you don’t already have one. This will make it easy to keep it updated.

#5: Be Prepared with Digital Profile Contents

Ensure that you have quick access to all the information listed below so that once your dream assignment is available, you can forward the information to your recruiter. Add a calendar reminder for document updates.

  • Resume with work history
  • References (2). Must be charge nurse or management. Must be able to contact both (provide more than two if you think you might need a backup)
  • Licensure. All clinicians must have a current, unrestricted license in the work assignment state. Exceptions are Compact States in which a traveler holds a Compact State license from their home state
  • Certifications (AHA preferred)
  • Verification of Physical (within the last 12 months and annually). Must include physician name, signature, and contact info
  • Negative TB Test
  • Evidence of Immunizations or Titers. Important: Please note that some facilities will not accept declinations

Creating Your Digital Traveler Profile

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#6: Be Flexible

Flexibility in location and shift and limiting demands for days off and blocked schedules will also help you nail a great assignment.

If you go in as a flexible candidate rather than someone who is demanding before you even start, the relationship between you and the facility will be stronger. Once you have your foot in the door and gain rapport with your manager, that's when you can start asking for other perks.


#7: Align with a Reputable Travel Nurse Agency

This will be a time of tremendous transition and consolidation in the healthcare industry. FlexCare has built strong relationships through the years with our facility partners around the country and we will continue to offer thousands of opportunities nationwide.


This has been and will continue to be a bit of a trying time for the traveling healthcare labor market.  Travel nurses, therapists, and allied clinicians will still have to be flexible when considering location, compensation, shifts, and time-off requests. Those that hold tightly to last year's job market will struggle to secure that perfect job. Be ready and give hiring managers a reason to place you at the top of the submission stack. We've come to the light at the end of the tunnel – and it's leading to a great travel career.


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Gretchen Barry
Gretchen Barry, Senior Marketing Manager