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Travel Guides October 3, 2023

The Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Northern California

There’s no better state for healthcare professionals than The Golden State; California truly has it all! And Northern California boasts its own unique attractions and a decidedly different vibe than Southern California. You’ll find incredible career opportunities and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world in NorCal, as the locals affectionately call it. 

The combination of premier jobs in Northern California with so many recreational opportunities and unique cities to explore…well, the opportunity is too good to pass up. If you haven’t tried it yet, this Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Northern California can serve as a one-stop resource to help you know what to expect, what to do and how to get started.

One thing to note: Northern California is not a distinct geographical region. Some people split the state in half when considering what is North and South, while others separate out Central California; still others would split the state into five regions. For the purposes of this guide, we are highlighting the entire upper half of the state, starting near Big Sur, up to the Oregon border.

Lifestyle Benefits in Northern California

Talk to any experienced traveling healthcare professional and they’ll tell you that there are numerous benefits of the travel lifestyle—combining the fun and adventure of traveling with resume-building experience, flexibility, and great compensation. And each region of the country has its own unique benefits.

Some key benefits of working in Northern California:

  • You’ll have hundreds of work opportunities. Assignments for healthcare professionals are plentiful here, encompassing all specialties and types of working environments. As a bonus: Northern California is known for some of the nation’s highest pay rates. While the cost of living is also high, healthcare professionals have their housing and travel expenses covered, which means you can afford to live in this incredible place while saving for the future.
  • You have a myriad of options for fun. Whatever you like to do during your downtime, you can find it in Northern California. From mountains to beaches to bustling cities, this region truly has it all. Outdoor adventures and sports are extremely popular here, but healthcare professionals can also lose themselves in the cultural attractions, wonderful eateries, amusement parks, professional sporting venues, shops and more.
  • You can experience all four seasons (unlike many areas in Southern California), while enjoying more moderate temperatures than in many parts of the country.
  • You’re in charge of your schedule. Healthcare professionals in Northern California can book subsequent assignments but leave a couple of weeks in between, allowing time to return home or enjoy a vacation before they return to work. Once you know your work schedule, you can also plan day trips or long weekends to go exploring, whether you prefer camping, hiking or wine tasting.

Facilities in Northern California 

When you consider taking a job in Northern California, one of your first priorities may be choosing the type of healthcare facility where you want to work. Depending on your specialty, you may want to gain some experience in a large teaching hospital or opt for a Monday-to-Friday schedule of an outpatient clinic. Your opportunities will run the gamut here, with assignments in nearly every type of setting.
We have jobs in Northern California in the following types of facilities:
Large academic medical centers

  • Mid-size and smaller hospitals
  • Pediatric hospitals and other specialty facilities
  • Clinics and medical groups
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Home health companies

In fact, these are just some of the general facility types with job openings for healthcare professionals. When you start working with a recruiter, you can request more specific details, such as a hospital with a Level 1 trauma center or a primary stroke center, or an ANCC Magnet-designated hospital. You can also choose from facilities located in the heart of a big city, or those situated in more suburban or rural locations.

You can search our jobs database for jobs in your specialty and preferred unit, including the operating room, the labor and delivery unit, the ICU, progressive care units, dialysis clinics, the cardiac catheterization lab, and more.

Ultimately, a job in a Northern California hospital or other healthcare setting can help you learn new equipment, procedures and best practices, making you a more desirable candidate for future jobs.

Things To Do in Northern California

When we say, “There’s something for everyone in Northern California,” we really mean it. The only problem with taking an assignment here is that you may not have time to see everything. But if you’re really ambitious, you can tackle a lot of the things on this list of suggestions:


Okay, yes, it’s touristy. And yes, it’s still fun to tell people that you went to jail when you visited San Francisco. But seriously, if you’ve never visited the infamous Alcatraz Island, about a mile offshore in the San Francisco Bay, it might be time to see this former federal prison that once housed some pretty notorious criminals.

Big Sur

Located just south of Monterey, Big Sur is a 90-mile stretch of mountainous land along the central coast that’s nothing short of spectacular. As the Santa Lucia Mountains rise up on one side and the Pacific Ocean sparkles on the other, Highway 1 rolls out in front of you and begs you to drive the whole route. You could start at the north end in Carmel and make your way south to San Simeon, home to the famous Hearst Castle, which is a registered National and California Historic Landmark.

Golden Gate Park

You really can’t visit San Francisco and not visit Golden Gate Park. After all, 24 million annual visitors can’t be wrong. This urban oasis is home to attractions such as the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum, a fine art museum, as well as the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in the nation.

Google Campus

Your most tech-savvy friends will be impressed when they see your Instagram photos in front of the famous Google sign in Mountain View. The Google campus, or Googleplex, doesn’t offer any official tours, but you can stroll around and see the public art. Plus, you might love seeing the amazing Shorebird Egret Rookery, located on a street in the middle of campus. Nesting season for these large majestic white birds is February through September. (You might see some black-crowned night-herons, too!)

Lake Tahoe

Unlike many places on this list, Lake Tahoe is not located near the coast. Instead, this beautiful freshwater lake is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where California and Nevada meet. Take the 72-mile scenic drive around the lake so you can stop along the way to visit the beaches, the Tahoe Maritime Museum, Squaw Valley USA (site of the 1980 Winter Olympics), and Cave Rock Vista Point, among others. Love hiking? This is the place for you, since hiking trails and amazing views abound.


If the only thing you do is visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, then you’ve had a successful visit to Monterey. But there’s so much more to do. Check out the rest of Cannery Row, a scenic street full of art galleries, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and other attractions. If you’ve visiting during warm weather, consider kayaking or scuba diving in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. You could also take a whale watching tour or since it’s a public golf course, play a round at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, accessed via the famous 17-Mile Drive.

Redwood National and State Parks

Marvel over the world’s tallest trees at Redwood National and State Parks, which includes Redwood National, Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. Plan to take a lot of photos here!


A little further inland from the coast is California’s capital, Sacramento. Eat, drink, shop and be merry in the Handle district, explore the exhibits at the Crocker Art Museum, or learn more about your adopted home state by visiting the California State Capitol Museum or Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park.

Stanford University

Want to tell people that you went to Stanford? Then plan a visit during your assignment in Northern California! Located in Palo Alto, Stanford University is known for its intensely-focused student body and topnotch academics. But it’s a pretty great place to visit, too. You can take a self-guided walk around the huge campus and perhaps even drop by the Cantor Arts Center, which is free and offers an impressive array of ongoing and changing exhibitions.

Tours of San Francisco

A great way to see San Francisco when you don’t want to drive yourself is a guided tour. One fun option is a bus tour of the city’s famous, colorful Victorian mansions known as the Painted Ladies (also known as Postcard Row). Prefer to go on foot? Consider a walking tour of Chinatown so you can explore the history, food, and culture of this vibrant section of the city. Or a tour of the Italian restaurants and other culinary landmarks in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. You might find a favorite that you can return to, again and again.

Wine Country

Red or white? How about both, and throw in some sparkling wine, too. Northern California is famous for its wine country. You could begin touring wineries in Napa Valley and try to decide which Cabernet or chardonnay is your favorite, or you could start with Sonoma Valley and try all the pinot noirs and Zinfandels. Or divide your time between both. You can even book tours, so you don’t have to figure it out yourself.


If your idea of the perfect adventure involves waterfalls and wildlife, Yosemite National Park is waiting for you. This national park is located east of San Francisco and Sacramento in the Sierra Madres, with seemingly endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife-spotting. Spring and summer are great times to fish, hike, and visit one of the park’s five waterfalls which are over 1,000 feet tall. If you visit in the summer, opt for a guided astronomy walk so you can learn more about the stars above, raft down the Merced River, or book a nighttime bike tour. Pack your snow boots if you plan to visit in the winter for another type of adventure.

Getting Started in Northern California

Ready to find an assignment in Northern California? We can connect you with the ideal job, help you get started and offer support throughout your assignment.
We’ve been taking care of healthcare professionals for more than 35 years, and are proud to offer a wide array of well-paying jobs; excellent benefits; a top-notch staff of recruiters, clinical experts and other specialists who support you; and the highest level of personal service.

Here are just a few reasons to consider working with AMN Healthcare:

  • You can access the largest database of jobs in the industry. We also have exclusive contracts with a number of leading healthcare organizations.
  • We make it easy for you. Once you’re signed up, the AMN Passport app makes it easy to search for jobs, book assignments, and manage everything from your schedule to your paycheck.
  • You’ll have the reassurance of 24/7 clinical support. If you run into a question or issue on the job, you can call our clinical team and receive urgent assistance at any time of day or night.
  • You’ll enjoy licensure assistance. Getting licensed in a new state can be a tedious process, and California currently has a longer-than-average waiting time. But our experienced team makes it as easy and efficient as possible, and we’ll also pay your licensure fees! We may even be able to find you a contract in another state while you are waiting for your California license.
  • Your housing is covered. We can find you safe, private accommodations that we’ll pay for, or you can take a stipend and find your own housing—whatever works best for you. We can even help find pet-friendly accommodations.
  • You’ll have expert guidance every step of the way. You’ll have a personal recruiter and robust support team that ensures you have everything that you need. From licensing and credentialing to housing and payroll, we have specialists who can help. And your recruiter will always be there to talk to, troubleshoot any issues, and provide support.

AMN Healthcare also offers the best benefits in the industry, including:

  • Premium health benefits, including PPO and HMO options, as well as life insurance, vision insurance, and disability insurance – for you and your family. And coverage starts on Day One.
  • Reimbursements for travel expenses, including daily stipends.
  • Retirement savings, with a generous 401(k) matching program.
  • Free continuing education units (CEUs).
  • Guaranteed hours for many assignments. Ask about your specific contract.

Take the first step

Interested in working as a healthcare professional in Northern California? Visit AMN Healthcare’s job search page to find an assignment that’s a great fit for you.

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