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Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse – What’s The Difference?

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse – What's The Difference?
By MegaInterview Company Career Coach

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse – what are the differences? Learn everything you need to know about the differences between an Agency Nurse and a Travel Nurse.


Agency nurses and travel nurses are both types of registered nurses, and while there are similarities, they have distinct differences. For example, agency nurses work with a single hospital or medical facility, while travel nurses often work in multiple locations.

Agency nurses are usually responsible for providing care to patients within a certain facility for a set amount of time, while travel nurses are typically assigned to a facility for a shorter period of time.

What is an Agency Nurse?

An agency nurse is a nurse who works for an agency, usually on a temporary or contract basis. Agency nurses provide short-term or temporary healthcare services to a variety of facilities, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare services.

Agency nurses may be assigned to a single facility or may travel between different facilities. They may also be required to provide specialized care for certain types of patients, such as those with mental health needs.

What is a Travel Nurse?

A travel nurse is a healthcare professional who works on short-term contracts in different medical facilities around the country. These nurses typically work 13-week assignments in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and physician’s offices.

Travel nurses can gain experience in various settings and specialties, as well as explore different parts of the country.

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse

Below we discuss the main differences between the job duties, job requirements, and work environment of an Agency Nurse and a Travel Nurse.

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse Job Duties

Agency nurses are employed by an agency or staffing service to fill in shifts at medical facilities. They may work in one facility for an extended period of time, or move from one facility to the next as needed. Agency nurses may work part-time or full-time hours.

On the other hand, travel nurses are employed by a travel nursing agency to work short-term contracts in various medical facilities. Typically, the contracts last from 8-26 weeks, depending on the needs of the facility. Travel nurses may be asked to work in a variety of settings and locations, depending on their skills and certifications.

When it comes to job duties, agency nurses are typically responsible for providing direct patient care, such as wound care and monitoring vital signs. They may also assist with administrative tasks and paperwork.

Travel nurses, on the other hand, are typically responsible for providing direct patient care in addition to education and assessment. They may be asked to assess a patient’s medical needs and create a treatment plan, or they may be asked to provide education to patients and families.


Overall, agency nurses and travel nurses both provide essential care to patients, but they have different job duties and responsibilities. Agency nurses are typically employed to fill in shifts in one facility, while travel nurses are employed to fill in short-term contracts in various locations.

RelatedStaff Nurse vs. Registered Nurse: What’s The Difference?

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse Job Requirements

Agency Nurses are typically employed by a staffing agency and placed in a hospital or care facility for short periods of time. This position requires a Registered Nurse (RN) license and usually a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Agency nurses are sometimes required to complete additional training in order to meet the requirements of their new environment.

The duties of an Agency Nurse vary depending on the hospital or care facility. Still, they may include treating patients, administering medications, consulting with doctors and other healthcare professionals, and monitoring patient progress. Agency Nurses must have excellent communication and organizational skills in order to meet the needs of their patients.

A Travel Nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) hired to work in various settings and locations. This position generally requires 1-2 years of experience in the field, a valid RN license, and a valid passport.

Travel Nurses typically take on short-term assignments, usually lasting three to six months, and are usually placed in areas with a staffing shortage. These nurses must be prepared to work in different medical settings and be able to adapt quickly and efficiently. Travel Nurses must have excellent communication skills, be highly organized and be comfortable working autonomously.

The duties of a Travel Nurse include providing care to patients, assessing their needs, and administering medications. Additionally, Travel Nurses must be able to work independently and manage their own time.


When comparing Agency Nurse and Travel Nurse job requirements, it is clear that the two positions require different qualifications. Agency Nurses need a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and must often complete additional training, while Travel Nurses must have at least 1-2 years of experience, a valid RN license, and a valid passport.

Both positions require excellent communication and organizational skills. However, Travel Nurses must also be comfortable working independently.

RelatedGeneral Nurse vs. Registered Nurse: What’s The Difference?

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse Work Environment

Agency nursing and travel nursing are two distinct professions that require unique skill sets and have very different work environments. While both agency nurses and travel nurses are registered nurses who provide care to patients, they have different duties and responsibilities and, therefore, different work environments.

Agency nurses are hired by healthcare facilities to fill short-term needs. These nurses typically work shifts in acute care, long-term care, mental health, and other settings.

Agency nurses need to be extremely organized and flexible, as they may be asked to fill shifts at a moment’s notice. Many agency nurses are employed by staffing agencies that provide their services to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The work environment for agency nurses can be fast-paced and unpredictable, with frequent changes in the location of their assignments.

Travel nurses work in the same settings as agency nurses, but they are typically hired to fill more short-term positions. These nurses travel to different areas to fill in positions at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

Travel nurses need a great deal of flexibility and adaptability as they may be asked to relocate for an assignment anywhere in the country. They must be willing to work in unfamiliar settings and work with different staff. The work environment for travel nurses can be very stimulating and rewarding, as they have the opportunity to experience new places and cultures.


The work environment for agency nurses and travel nurses can vary greatly. Agency nurses tend to work in the same setting for longer periods of time, while travel nurses are often asked to relocate for an assignment.

Agency nurses must be organized and flexible, while travel nurses need to be very adaptable and willing to work in unfamiliar settings. Both types of nurses have rewarding and stimulating careers, but the work environments can be vastly different.

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse Skills

Agency nurses are those who typically take on full-time, permanent positions at a hospital or care facility and are typically paid on an hourly basis. They provide care to hospitalized patients, administer medications, and provide support to families. In addition to providing medical care, they also need to be able to work independently and as part of a team.

Agency nurses must be organized, have excellent communication skills, and be able to think quickly on their feet.

Travel nurses are those who typically take on short-term, temporary assignments in various locations. As a result, they must be able to adjust quickly to new surroundings, have strong organizational skills, and have excellent problem-solving abilities. They must be able to communicate effectively with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals.

Travel nurses must also be able to work in various environments, have a good understanding of different medical systems, and be able to quickly acquire new skills.


Overall, both agency nurses and travel nurses provide important medical services to those in need. However, each requires slightly different job skills in order to be successful. Agency nurses must possess strong communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to think quickly on their feet.

Travel nurses must possess strong problem-solving and communication skills, as well as the ability to quickly adjust to new surroundings and medical systems.

Agency Nurse vs. Travel Nurse Salary

Agency Nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who staffing agencies employ to work at various healthcare facilities on a temporary basis. They may work at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other facilities and are often called upon to fill in for absent staff or during periods of high patient volume. As employees of staffing agencies, Agency Nurses typically receive a regular salary, with benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans.

On the other hand, Travel Nurses are also temporary nurses who work on short-term assignments, typically lasting several weeks to a few months, at hospitals or other healthcare facilities across the country. Unlike Agency Nurses, Travel Nurses are not typically employed by staffing agencies but rather work as independent contractors. This means they negotiate their own contracts, which can include pay rates, housing and travel allowances, and other benefits. Travel Nurses often earn a higher salary than Agency Nurses due to the higher level of specialization and flexibility required for the job.

According to data from, the average hourly rate for Agency Nurses in the United States is around $33. However, this rate can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the healthcare facility.

In contrast, the average hourly rate for Travel Nurses is around $42 per hour, with some earning as much as $50 per hour or more. In addition to higher pay rates, Travel Nurses may also receive additional benefits such as housing and travel allowances, health insurance, and retirement plans.


Overall, while both Agency Nurses and Travel Nurses play important roles in the healthcare industry, Travel Nurses tend to earn a higher salary due to the specialized skills and flexibility required for the job.

However, it’s important to note that the specific compensation for each role can vary based on a number of factors, and there are pros and cons to each type of nursing position.

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