Being a radiologic technologist can be a rewarding career — in more ways than one. But if you’re thinking about leaving your staff job and becoming a traveling X-ray tech, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Traveling Is Both Awesome and Challenging
When we talk to X-ray techs who are thinking about getting into medical travel for the first time, the first things we talk about are the benefits and challenges of traveling.
Fortunately, the benefits kind of outweigh the challenges — otherwise, it wouldn’t be so popular!
The first big benefit that draws most people to the industry is the pay. If you’ve spent any time looking into opportunities, you know that the pay rate can be significantly higher than what you’d make at a hospital or an imaging clinic.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is supply and demand. The pandemic has had long-lasting effects across the healthcare industry, and we’re still seeing those effects — the pandemic is not over.
Many people have left healthcare, while many others have become travelers. The demand for traveling X-ray techs is still there, and it’s not likely to go anywhere anytime soon.
Another big benefit of traveling is that you get to see the country and get paid to do it! All the places you’ve always wanted to visit are now yours to see without having to pay for an expensive vacation.
Even better, you get to stay for months, so you can really get to know a place and visit all the sights instead of only being able to fit in a few things before leaving.
Most people don’t want to travel forever and would like to settle down eventually. This gives you the opportunity to live in and learn about many different cities to see if they’re somewhere you might want to move to permanently.
Of course, no job is without challenges, and medical travel is the same way. The pay can fluctuate from job to job, which is dependent on tons of different factors.
Sometimes you’ll get contracts with a really high rate, and other times it won’t be quite as good — though still better than what you’d get at a staff position.
Another challenge is that traveling requires a lot of work. You often won’t be able to see the place you’re going to live in for the next few months before you actually get there.
Moving every few months means packing up your whole life, loading it into a truck, and driving, sometimes thousands of miles.
It’s a different way of life for sure, but if you travel light and love seeing and experiencing everything this country has to offer, it might be just the thing.
2. You’ll Get to Learn New and Exciting Technology
It’s almost an old joke that hospital technology is always old and out of date, but the reality is that every facility is different.
Yes, some hospitals and imaging facilities do have old technology, and maybe you know that better than anyone because you’ve worked in them.
Others have cutting-edge stuff that you’re just not going to see anywhere else.
One of the coolest things about medical travel is that you get to see it all — old and new. This can be especially exciting if you really love seeing new technology in action and if the place you’re currently working at is a bit out of date.
Sometimes this might mean that you have to get additional qualifications to be able to work with some new technology, and it also means that it will take you a while to get accustomed to the new tech.
However, once you learn that new tech, you can apply your knowledge to every assignment you take after that. It’s an incredible opportunity to see everything that’s out there, old and new, which means you’ll be much better qualified to take on any job you want in the future.
If you continue traveling, over time, you’ll be able to take on any contract without fear because you’ll have learned so much.
And if you decide to settle down, then you’ll be qualified for just about any job you want, which will both ensure you get paid well in a staff position AND that you’ll be comfortable working with whatever technology they use.
3. Every Facility Is Different
We touched on this a little bit, but the fact is that every facility in the country is different. One of the big challenges of being a traveler is that you never really know what you’re walking into.
That’s why it’s so important to learn as much as you can about each facility you’re considering. There are many subreddits on Reddit for travelers where travelers will talk about facilities they’ve worked at, giving you valuable insight into what you might be walking into.
It also helps to check them out online. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be when you walk in the door on day one.
Many facilities are awesome, have great staff, and are run well. If you know this in advance from your research, you’ll be comfortable taking on the assignment.
But if you see some things about a facility that throw up red flags, you’ll be prepared to walk away.
The fact is, you never really know until you get there. Facilities that are supposedly “bad” might have just gotten poor reviews based on a bad experience on one unit.
You never really know until you get there.
Looking for an Assignment? Let’s Talk
If you’re looking for your first X-ray tech travel assignment — or if you’re looking for your next assignment — we’re here to help.