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How to Get Started Travel Nursing in California

Before you pack your bags, here are a few things to consider to make your California dream a reality.

Home to the world’s 5th largest economy, the unique Yosemite National Park and roughly 40 million people, California has a lot to offer. It’s time to become a working tourist and what better place to travel than the Golden State. As with any new assignment, it’s important to do your research and make the best decision based on your personal requirements. Typically, California has a high demand for travel nurses but it also has a longer licensing process than most states. Before you pack your bags, here are a few things to consider to make your California dream a reality.

Considerations for Travel Nursing in California

California Licensing

California is not a Compact state which means you need to apply for California licensure by endorsement. Start by setting up a profile on California’s BreEZe. After your profile is complete you need to gather some of the other requirements before submitting your application.

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In California, you need to submit a fingerprint scan. This part can be a bit tricky and time consuming, there are two ways to complete this step. You can get a fingerprint card, bring it to a local law enforcement agency to have them collect your fingerprints using black ink only and mail it in with a check. This can delay the process substantially. However, most nurses find it easiest to visit California and complete your fingerprints with LiveScan. Fill out this form before your flight and stop by a LiveScan center while on your trip to have your fingerprint processed within a few days.

The next step before you can submit your application is a photo, you need to attach a 2” X 2” passport photo to your application. Then the Board of Nursing in California will verify that you have a nursing license in another state since you are applying for endorsement. If needed, fill out a license verification form provided by the Board of Nursing in your state and let them know you want the verification sent to the California Board of Nursing. The California Board of Nursing will also need a transcript from your nursing school sent directly from your alma mater. Now you simply pay the application fees and submit your application.

The licensing process can take a bit longer in California so it’s important to discuss the timeline with your recruiter. You may want to take an assignment in a different state while processing your California license.

Travel Nursing Pay

Whereas the process for obtaining a California license can seem daunting, it is worth it in more ways than one. California is known to offer some of the best pay rates for travel nurses. However, these rates vary from region to region. Typically, travel nurses in Northern California have higher pay rates than in Southern California. But, keep cost-of-living in mind when you see those numbers. For example, most people are shocked by the cost of rent in San Francisco, but it is a beautiful city with lots to do if you find an assignment there. As a general rule, the best region in California for travel nurses interested in higher pay is the Central Valley area. Cities, like Sacramento, tend to have a lower cost of living but maintain the higher bill rate California is known for.

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California has nurse-to-patient-ratio laws in place so that hospitals cannot assign more than a certain number of patients to one nurse. For example, emergency room nurses only have four patients at any given time while an intensive care nurse can only have two. These laws give better experiences for patients and a safer work environment for nurses.

California is one of the only states that you can lay on the beach and go skiing. Stretching for nearly 900 miles, its terrain includes deserts, beaches, redwood forests and wine country. This state gives you multiple options of rural or urban life and sometimes a combination of both. You really can have it all in California! You just need to decide where to travel first.


Supplemental Health Care offers its travel nurses career advocates and access to thousands of job opportunities throughout California and nationwide. We start you off on the right foot whether you are a seasoned travel nurse or starting out on your first travel assignment and support you every step of the way. SHC has nursing positions in a variety of specialties and settings and personalized compensation packages for your needs.

Travel nursing is an incredibly exciting career that could lead you to California for the winter. If you’re ready for your travel nursing assignment in California or want more information, give us a call today!



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