March 15, 2023

Continuing Education for Travel Nurses

Completing your nursing education doesn’t mean the learning stops. Continuing education is a crucial aspect of most licensed careers, and nursing is no exception! It’s vital for travel nurses who often jump right into patient care after a brief orientation. Continuing education units ensure your skills are current and that you’re up-to-date on industry changes and emerging techniques.

Continuing Education for Nurses 101

As a registered nurse, you are required to maintain a certain number of Continuing Education Units per year. Each state’s BON determines this number. Although it varies, each state requires between 10-25 CEUs every 1-3 years to maintain a nursing license. A few states do not require registered nurses to take CEUs. But let’s back up, here’s what you need to know:

  • BON: Board of Nursing. This is the regulating body that determines rules, regulations & privileges of licensure that grants permission to an individual to engage in nursing practice.
  • CE: Continuing Education. This can also be referred to by some BONs as ‘Continuing Competency’ and, for most states, is a requirement for license renewal. Continuing education can be a course, training for a specific certification, or learning activity that covers nursing practice.
  • CEU: Continuing Education Unit. Many training courses or certifying bodies assign a number of CEUs to a particular activity, similar to a college course being ‘worth’ a specific number of credits.

travel nurse continuing education

Almost all staff nursing jobs require CEUs each year, even if the state license doesn’t. Travel nurses need to maintain the appropriate number of CEUs for the state licenses they hold, plus any additional as required by the facilities in which they are working.

How Do I Earn CEUs?

CEUs are monitored carefully by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which oversees all nursing licenses and nursing schools. CEUs can be earned through a variety of channels, including speakers, presentations, online modules, and testing. However, it is essential to make sure that the CEUs you receive are from an ANCC-accredited program. For your state requirements, check with your BON as many states have specific course requirements or preferred training programs.

Specialty Certifications

Many nurses opt for additional training within their specialty to boost their resumes, learn other skills, and potentially earn more. Most specialty certifications require training to maintain certification. These trainings typically fulfill CE requirements as credentialing bodies like the American Association of Critical Care nurses are likely board-approved — but it’s always best to check with your BON. Below are some standard certifications:

For more specialty-specific certifications, check out our Specialty Guide.

national nurse conference

National Conferences

Conferences are an excellent option for CEUs. But more than that, they offer you time to network and learn in an environment surrounded by like-minded individuals. Many offer a variety of CEU opportunities and give out several (think up to 12!) for attendance. This is because speakers are generally industry leaders. Always check with your board to ensure CEUs earned will qualify.

Look up national conferences for nurses.

Schools & Facilities

Many health systems are licensed CEU providers, as it benefits them and their employees. They have the opportunity to ensure their staff members are up-to-date with their skills while also showcasing to potential employees that their education matters. Clinical specialists, nurse educators, and/or coworkers typically teach these. It’s always a good idea to check at your facility to see if they’ll have a course while you’re there on assignment.

Online Resources

For travel nurses, it can be overwhelming to track down courses and book a conference while not knowing the schedule of future assignments. Luckily, it’s the 21st century, and we do almost everything digitally. Online courses are an excellent option for busy nurses — if you have the discipline to sit through the videos. is a great resource for those nurses due to their rigorous accreditation. They ensure content is current, accurate, and varied. They even offer state-mandated topics. 

Earn CEUs From Your Travel Nurse Agency

We’re proud to offer our nurses a solution to earn the continuing education they need through CE Direct. Through this partnership, we’re able to provide our nurses with a high-quality continuing education resource. Our nurses have access to more than 600 ANCC-accredited online courses available at no charge. When you choose to travel with TNAA, you’re our employee. We believe in adding value to your professional life. For current travelers, simply ask your recruiter about CE Direct, and they will have a unique login created for you. Your CE Direct profile will keep a summary of your completed courses should you need documentation.

RN Certification Reimbursement Program

Additionally, you can ask about our RN Certification Reimbursement Program. We want to make it easy for you to further your education and career development, so we offer eligible TNAA travel nurses reimbursement for specialty exams or recertification fees – up to $400. This includes the cost for CNOR, CCRN, CEN, PCCN, and RN-BC certifications. Check your eligibility on our page which explains everything you need to know about TNAA’s RN Certification Reimbursement Program.

nursing ceu online

How Much do Nursing CEUs Typically Cost?

Unfortunately, CEUs typically aren’t free, unless your employer or union provides them — like we do with our CE Direct partnership. Online courses can cost anywhere from $10-$100 or a subscription cost, which is around $50 — and specialty certs aren’t cheap either. While national conferences tend to come with a steep price tag, you may be able to write off expenses like meals and travel. As always, check with a tax professional.

Managing Your CEUs and Continuing Ed Requirements

Tracking and managing CEUs can seem tedious, overwhelming, and complicated. Remember, you likely spent a great deal of time, and potentially money, to earn your CEUs, so don’t let this task derail you. Ideally, you’ll have a system in place to ensure you have a record of your CEUs and other relevant information that is easily accessible and up-to-date.

what documents do travel nurses need

Travel Nurse Advice on Organizing CEUs

“I recommend getting certifications like ACLS, CCRN, TNCC, or whatever is relatable to your specialty because it makes you more desirable as a traveler, but also you get CE credits every time you renew the certifications. So it’s a win-win! Also, each state has different required CEs, which can be done when it’s close to licensure renewal time. When it comes to organizing, I use a binder that has multiple pockets to keep my CEs, vaccine records, required documents & certificates. I laminated all my ACLS, PALS, and TNCC cards and hooked the with a plastic loop to keep in my hospital bag.” –Kristi, ER Nurse

Typically, a certificate is issued at the end of a course, training program, or learning activity stating you’ve completed the required units. Nurses are required to keep certificates in the event of an audit. Some states require nurses to maintain documentation for up to 4 years. So simply completing the requirements isn’t enough; you’ll need to keep the proof.

CEU Tracker Spreadsheet for Travel Nurses

While there are many ways to maintain records of your CEUs, we thought we’d make it easy on you. So we made you a spreadsheet. Here’s how it works:

  1. Click the link to open the CEU tracker
  2. Click FILE
  3. Choose either
    1. Make A Copy (to use Google Sheets)
    2. Download in Excel (to use Microsoft Excel)
  4. Fill in the yellow cell for hours required
  5. Enter your CEUs as you receive them, and the spreadsheet will keep up with hours completed and remaining

Click here to download our free CEU tracker spreadsheet.