The 6 Best Travel Nursing Agencies of 2020

Find the right short-term working opportunity

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First Look

Best Overall: Triage Staffing

"The company specializes in helping nurses and healthcare professionals find 13-week assignments across the U.S."

Best for Sick Pay: Aya Healthcare

"Aya Healthcare is one of the only travel nursing agencies that has sick pay, which begins accruing the first day of an assignment."

Best for Education: Travel Nurse Across America

"TNAA has a partnership with Aspen University, so individuals can get their Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 12 months."

Best Customer Service: Axis Medical Staffing

"A page on its website dubbed “Ask an Axis Travel Nurse” can help nurses find answers to all their questions."

Best Track Record: FlexCare Medical Staffing

"The Premier Traveler Access program offers prospective travel nurses the opportunity to unlock and view pay rates."

Best Newcomer: Advantis Medical

"The agency offers client connections with hospitals, outpatient clinics, same-day ambulatory surgical centers, as well as skilled nursing facilities."

Travel nursing offers registered nurses (RNs) short-term working opportunities in a wide variety of healthcare specialties and settings, both across the U.S. and internationally. Nurses seeking travel assignments are typically those who find new challenges and exploration appealing, practicing healthcare in different environments while discovering a new locale.

To start working as a travel nurse, job seekers typically discuss their prior clinical experience, current credentials, and placement desires with a staffing agency recruiter, as opposed to a single hospital system. The recruiter will take the nurse’s prior experience and specialty into consideration while seeking out potential assignments.

Based on availability, the nurse may be presented with an opportunity for travel within their specialty niche. However, it is possible to cross over into different settings, depending on the position requirements and willingness to commute to the contract site. For example, non-specialized assignments in areas such as medical-surgical nursing may be available to a nurse who has specialty credentials in a different area, though non-specialized assignments typically come at a lower pay rate than those seeking specialized skill sets or credentials.

When looking for the right travel nursing agency, it is imperative to use longstanding and reputable sites to conduct individual research, which is why we chose our top picks based on their national ranking, user reviews, and features.

Nurse
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Triage Staffing

Triage Staffing

Triage Staffing

Triage Staffing is one travel nursing company that offers a little bit of everything.

Frequently popping up on several top sites, possessing numerous qualifications, and substantial ratings across several industry cornerstones, Triage Staffing is easily considered the most well-rounded among the companies listed. This company was recognized in 2019 by Inc. Magazine and Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

The company, founded in 2006, is moderate in size when compared to other nursing travel agencies (it is listed by Inc. Magazine as having between 51-200 employees). It is based in Omaha, Nebraska, and has an impressive rating on Glassdoor.

Triage Staffing specializes in helping nurses and healthcare professionals find 13-week assignments across the U.S. The company strives for transparency and "to build relationships that are deeper than simple business transactions." Those who are hired are paid weekly via direct deposit.

Pay is actually a benefits package that includes wage, overtime, bonuses, per diems, and a housing stipend. Health insurance is provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and those hired get dental insurance, vacation time, and a 401(k) plan.

Best for Sick Pay: Aya Healthcare

Aya Healthcare

Aya Healthcare

A 2017 independent study analyzed the frequency of top travel nursing companies mentioned by users on social media sites. The study concluded Aya Healthcare is the most frequently referenced in user comments.

Aya Healthcare has a strong online presence including a blog and active social media accounts on nearly every contemporary platform. Its website proudly displays several company awards and accolades, including the Joint Commission's Golden Seal of Approval. The agency has placed thousands of travel nurses and allied workers nationwide and offers a program for travel nursing from Canada.

The company states that pay depends on where a traveling nurse is placed. But it does disclose that it has a 401(k) plan with an employer match, license reimbursements, discounts, wellness and nutrition programs, and more. It's up to the nurse to decide if they want to accept Aya Healthcare's comprehensive medical, dental, and vision plan from the first day of an assignment. And, there's the option to add dependents to the plan.

Aya Healthcare is also one of the only travel nursing agencies that has sick pay, which begins accruing on the first day of an assignment. The nurse can earn one hour for every 30 hours worked, but it can't be used until after 90 days.

Best for Education: Travel Nurse Across America

Travel Nurse Across America

Travel Nurse Across America

Travel Nurse Across America (TNAA) had the highest average score when analyzing top 10 travel nurse agency lists across several well-known sites.

Founded in 1999 in North Little Rock, Arkansas, this company was present on three top-10 lists in 2019, a notable feat that speaks to its history of satisfaction. According to Bluepipes, TNAA was one of the biggest (in terms of company size) on its 2019 list. 

TNAA explains its use of a full-team approach to assist travelers with specialty staff equipped to handle a variety of needs, including housing experts and clinical leadership, This agency also highlights its wide array of benefits offered, such as low census pay, tuition reimbursement, and paid licensure fees prior to travel. Overtime will be included in payment for any extra hours worked and in every state, paid sick leave begins accruing from day one.

TNAA also has a partnership with Aspen University, so individuals can get their Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 12 months. Upon completion, TNAA will even reimburse tuition expenses.

Best Customer Service: Axis Medical Staffing

Axis Medical Staffing

Axis Medical Staffing

Axis' user reviews remain the highest on this list. Formed in Seattle, Washington, in 2003, Axis touts several coveted benefits including payment of paid personalized housing options (with pet deposit costs covered by the agency), as well as immediate vesting in its company-matched 401(k) plan.

This agency regularly features a new Traveler of the Month nurse on its blog. Additionally, Axis’ website has a page dedicated to Ask an Axis Travel Nurse, which features an easy submission form where a nurse can answer all your questions.

This encouraging way of connecting can provide novice or even seasoned travelers with a trusted source, a nursing peer who has traveled with this specific agency several times, instead of hosting an impersonal message board. Axis also offers a live chat feature that's easily accessible on the homepage.

Best Track Record: FlexCare Medical Staffing

FlexCare Medical Staffing

FlexCare Medical Staffing

Bluepipes.com refers to FlexCare Medical Staffing as the "most decorated travel nursing agency of all time," with more than 1727 reviews reported. This agency obtained a gold finish on Travel Nursing Central’s 2019 list of top travel nursing companies and has consistently placed since 2014. FlexCare has also been on the Highway Hypodermics list since 2011.

FlexCare’s website touts its Premier Traveler Access program, offering prospective travel nurses the opportunity to unlock and view pay ranges for a wide variety of open jobs, in addition to personalized alerts via text and email. This agency explains its mission to support travelers by providing a single recruiter who is able to meet every need (termed “S1NGLEPOINT” on the website) and help simplify the entire process.

This one point of contact can advocate for the traveler, assist in searching for jobs and housing, provide a transparent and competitive salary rate, as well as ensure timely payment.

Best Newcomer: Advantis Medical

Advantis Medical

Advantis Medical

Founded in 2018 as a subsidiary of Advantis Global, Advantis Medical earned a spot on Bluepipes' 2020 list of Best Travel Nursing Companies. Its user reviews are limited in number, but they're glowing regarding people's experiences with the company.

Advantis Medical recruits travel nurses and places them in top institutions across the United States. The agency offers client connections with hospitals, outpatient clinics, same-day ambulatory surgical centers, as well as skilled nursing facilities.

Advantis Medical’s specialization opportunities include placements in divisions like Medical-Surgical (M/S), Emergency Department (ED), Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Labor & Delivery (L&D), and more. Its benefits include highly competitive compensation packages, direct deposit available from day one, assistance with housing options, health insurance (medical, dental, vision), and a 401(k) option.

The agency also has payment incentives for referrals. To make the process as seamless as possible, Advantis Medical has a one-minute application form which could not be any easier, especially for a traveling nurse who is always on the go.

How We Chose the Best Travel Nursing Agencies

In general, most travel nursing contracts average about 13 weeks in length (excluding crisis assignments, which can be much shorter but can require expedited on-site arrival, some as little as 48 hours). Some assignments may later offer an option to re-sign at the end of an existing contract if it's mutually beneficial and the clinical staffing need remains prevalent.

According to several websites, California typically offers some of the highest pay rates for travel nurses. According to a 2020 listing by Zip Recruiter, cities in Colorado, New York, Washington, and Massachusetts were all top-ranked in both hourly and salaried nursing positions; Arkansas, Florida, and New Mexico were among the lowest. It is important to note that the cost of living and destinations with desirable climates can influence pay rates.

Ultimately, it is always up to the prospective traveler to decide whether or not to commit to any travel assignment or contract. However, some flexibility may be useful in this nursing niche, as assignments in a specific specialty and requested city may not always be available, depending on the needs of certain healthcare systems actively looking to hire traveling nurses at that time.

This list was created using an internal quality control review process, using a multitude of research means by weighing varied information available through several distinguished sites and sources regarding prevalent travel nursing agencies. Additionally, actively licensed and nurses on current travel assignments were interviewed, giving valuable and anonymous input.

What Are Travel Nursing Agencies?

Travel nursing agencies are staffing agencies that place registered nurses and healthcare professionals in hospitals and clinics with short-term staffing needs. They often place individuals nationally or internationally in locations where there are nursing shortages.

What Kinds of Benefits Can Travel Nurses Receive Through Travel Nursing Agencies?

Truthfully, it depends on which agency you're using. Travel nurses often receive direct deposit, health insurance (medical, dental, vision), referral bonuses, a housing stipend, bonuses, and overtime pay. There is usually a 401(k) option for travel nurses as well.

How Long Are Travel Nursing Assignments?

Some travel nursing opportunities can be as short as 8 weeks, while others can last for 26 weeks at a time. There are often options and offers to extend assignments, too.

Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Work?

Yes. That's generally a benefit to the job. Some agencies work to assign candidates throughout the United States, while others place travel nurses internationally. Before deciding to work with an agency, it makes sense to find out where they place travel nurses if you have a specific placement location in mind.

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Article Sources
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