How to Get Started Travel Nursing in California

Home to the world’s 5th largest economy, the unique Yosemite National Park, and roughly 40 million people, California has a lot to offer travel nurses. 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 nursing 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 currently 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.

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 travel nurses find it easiest to visit California and complete their 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 Board of Nursing in California will verify that you have a nursing license in another state since you are applying by 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 compared to other states so it’s important to discuss the timeline with your recruiter. As a travel nurse, 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.

Keep cost-of-living in mind when you are considering travel nursing pay. 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.

Nurse to Patient Ratios

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 or labor & delivery nurse can only have two. These laws give better experiences for patients and a safer work environment for nurses.

Traveling in California

As a travel nurse, you really can have it all in California! Stretching for nearly 900 miles, its terrain includes mountains, deserts, beaches, redwood forests, and wine country. This state gives you multiple options for rural or urban life and sometimes a combination of both. Check out our post on travel nursing in California to learn more about the top locations for assignments and other perks to working in the state.


Supplemental Health Care offers its travel nurses recruiting experts with access to thousands of job opportunities throughout California and nationwide. Whether you are a seasoned travel nurse or starting out on your first travel assignment, SHC will support you every step of the way. We have travel nursing positions in a variety of specialties and settings and personalized compensation packages for your needs.

Travel nursing is an incredibly exciting career with plenty of assignment options throughout California. If you’re ready for your travel nursing opportunity or want more information, give us a call today!