Quote from Mantibob
Excuse me for what might be a stupid question - but, is there a difference between an agency and a travel nurse company? I am still a student nurse so am not fully clear about these things. My impression is that they are one in the same. Correct me if I am wrong and let me know the differences.
My perspective is that an agency functions more on a local basis.......say within a given state......and I think they have to license themselves that way. They get you assignments within their base of hospitals and pay you directly.
A travel nurse company functions more on a national basis and function to set you up on longer commitment assignments. Compensation includes your travel and/or housing costs and an hourly wage paid to you by the travel company. You can set yourself up to work 3 months in NC, 3 months in TX, 3 months in Hawaii...........see the world. I know nurses who have "retired" and take travel assignments for 6 months in Hawaii.........lived on the beach and even were given a car........not a bad deal. Because these packages include so much more than an agency gives you, the hourly wage is less. Hourly wages from local agencies still tend to be much higher than working for a hospital but you have to consider benefits (which you may or may not get), sick pay, vacation pay, pension, etc. You don't necessarily get that from an agency so you have to consider those hidden perk's value when you look at an agency as your sole source of employment.
I believe that most travel companies and agencies require 2 years of clinical experience. So if you're interested in working this way, get a good solid foundation in clinical from a hospital and get all your certifications, etc.
Good luck with school!