Top travel nursing specialties

Top travel nursing specialties

One of our users recently asked a great question: “What Specialty is the most coveted when it comes to assignments?”. This is something we have often wondered ourselves and decided we should do a little investigating. It’s a loaded question with lots of variables but I think you’ll agree after looking at the numbers that there are a few clear-cut winners. Let’s start with what jobs are out there.

We looked at current traveling jobs available on the metasearch engine Indeed Jobs to start with. Indeed aggregates job listings from thousands of websites and job boards. Not all travel nursing companies are represented on Indeed but the majority of them are. We searched for all travel nursing specialties that were posted within the last seven days of this article posting. Here are the top five specialties followed by the number of jobs posted:

Indeed Jobs

  1. ICU (1,951)
  2. Med/Surg (1,640)
  3. OR (1,402)
  4. L&D (1,393)
  5. ER (1,138)

The problem with using Indeed is that many of these jobs are duplicates. Most hospitals do not have an exclusive deal with just one travel company, so the same job will be represented by many companies and will therefore show up many times on Indeed. We decided to look at a few of the most popular travel companies to see how their numbers compared. Here’s what we found:

American Mobile

  1. L&D (185)
  2. OR (182)
  3. ICU (162)
  4. ER (120)
  5. Med/Surg (77)

Cross Country TravCorps

  1. OR (272)
  2. L&D (188)
  3. ICU (173)
  4. Med/Surg (153)
  5. ER (128)

Onward Healthcare

  1.  ICU (80)
  2. OR (78)
  3. L&D (68)
  4. ER (58)
  5. Med/Surg (34)

Looking at these numbers, OR and L&D seem to be the clear-cut winners followed by ICU and ER. Comparing these numbers with Indeed, we can see that all of them have the same specialties in the top five: L&D, OR, ICU, ER and Med/Surg. The only difference is what order they are in. It should also be noted that these are results of searches in mid-summer months. With seasonal nursing being a big part of the southern states, it would be interesting to see if these numbers fluctuate based on season.

Here is a look at the top 8 specialties :

SPECIALTY
INDEED (last 7 days)
American Mobile
Cross Country TravCorps
Onward Healthcare
ICU1,95116217380
OR1,40218227278
L&D1,39318518868
ER1,13812012858
Medical Surgery1,6407715334
Telemetry851732828
CATH653637926
NICU820717924

Arguably, one could say that this proves which specialties have the most jobs but not the “most coveted” like our member asked. So to take it one step further we decided to see which specialties offered the highest referral bonus by travel companies. It seems logical that if companies were willing to pay more for certain specialties, they must “covet” those specialties more than others. Here’s what we found:

 
Fastaff
Cross Country TravCorps
American Mobile
$3000CVICU, CVOR, L&D, OR, PICU
$1500Cath Lab, Chemo Certified, Dialysis, Endo, ER, ICU, NICU
$1,000ER, OR, L&D
$750L&D, OR, CVOR, PICU
$500Home Health, Med/Surg, Pediatrics, Telemost othersmost others
$250Med/Surg

Aside from the fact that Fastaff is handing out some serious cash for referrals, the numbers aren’t very surprising. Once again, we find OR and L&D are at the top of the list, followed by ER and ICU with Med/Surg finishing at the bottom of the list. Based on the number of jobs of each specialty and the amount companies are willing to pay for referrals, here are our top five most popular specialties in order:

  1. ICU
  2. OR
  3. L&D
  4. ER
  5. Med/Surg

Again, there are so many variables involved that it wouldn’t be fair to say that these are etched in stone. If your specialty is not on this list it does not mean you made a poor choice or that you would not be able to find jobs as a traveler. We do feel comfortable in declaring these specialties as the most likely to have more available jobs than other specialties. If you are thinking about becoming a traveler, we would highly recommend you focus on a specialty in this list. But ultimately you should pick one that best suites your personality and interest. If you end up doing something you hate, what’s the point?

  • Wendy

    :-( I feel so unloved…..psych nursing is the low man on the totem pole, of course I always have to do things the hard way :-)

  • Brad Crawford

    Don’t let this article discourage you. It was meant more as something to think about for nurses who know they want to travel and want to pick the best specialty. I would recommend you call a few companies and ask how many psych jobs each one has right now. If it’s really low, maybe consider switching to something else but keep in mind you would need one year experience in that specialty before you can travel. If you love PSYCH but the jobs are low, you might just end up with less options and maybe a few gaps in jobs if you decided to travel. Good luck and talk to some recruiters! Just remember they’re like car salesmen. They probably wouldn’t lie but they sure like to sugar coat things.

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