Travel medical lab technicians are some of the most in-demand workers in the medical industry right now. If you have the skills and experience necessary, you can take your pick from a number of jobs all across the country as hospitals seek help to fill their staffing needs.
Whether you’re currently in the field, thinking about it, or are well on your way to becoming an MLT, traveling around the country while working is something that can boost your career, give you the experience of a lifetime, and pay you extremely well along the way.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a travel MLT.
MLTs Are in Demand Because They Play Such an Important Role
Medical lab technicians are essential “behind the scenes” healthcare workers, using a number of different procedures to help with the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.
It’s estimated that 70% of medical decisions are based on the results of laboratory work, making them one of the most important and in-demand jobs in healthcare, which means they’re able to command high pay from travel contracts.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects an 11% growth in employment for MLTs over the next 6 years, which is more than double the average for all other fields.
Becoming a Travel MLT
Once you’ve gotten your degree, certification, and the necessary state license, then you’re going to need to get some experience under your belt before you can get a job as a travel MLT.
After you become fully credentialed, you’ll need to spend at least one year working at an acute care facility before you’ll be considered for travel. This is because travel jobs are relatively short, and hospitals need to make sure the people they bring in can be brought up to speed quickly.
A year is a minimum — some agencies won’t hire you until you’ve got 18 months or two years of experience.
Once you’ve got the amount of time necessary, you can find an agency and start cashing in on all the hard work you’ve put in.
Travel work isn’t for everyone. Some people are eager to plant their roots, to have stable, predictable work. However, if you’re someone who:
- Loves new challenges
- Loves seeing the country
- Is adventurous
- Wants to earn as much as possible
- Wants to go on a few extra vacations each year
Then you should seriously consider picking up travel work.
There are a few cons to go with the pros that need to be considered before taking the leap.
You’ll be able to earn the most possible money in your field with travel work. The average wage for a travel MLT is around $1,600 per week or $41 per hour, as opposed to staff lab technicians who earn around $19 per hour.
You’ll meet amazing people all around the country and grow both your social and professional network.
You can take as much time as you need between jobs. Whether that’s for relaxing or going on adventures of your own, you don’t need to ask permission to take time for yourself.
The hospital pays all your expenses when you travel. This includes money for moving, money for food, and money for housing. You can spend or pocket as much of that as you’d like.
It can get lonely. Especially when you’re just starting out in a new location where you don’t know anyone. It’s really important to make connections and meet new people.
However, if you travel with a significant other whose work fits in with your travel lifestyle and throw a pet or two into the mix, then that loneliness isn’t nearly so bad.
The pay will vary quite a bit from contract to contract. This can be a little unsettling for some, not knowing how much they’ll be earning in 6 months, a year, two years.
However, despite there being uncertainty from job to job, medical travelers consistently out-earn their staff counterparts.
Tips to Make Your Travel Experiences Go Smoothly
Travel is a unique experience with unique issues, but there are a few things you can do to make your experience smoother.
Try Multiple Housing Options
When you’re doing travel work, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is what type of housing you’ll stay in. You’ll have a housing stipend on every single contract, but it’s up to you to figure out how much of that to spend.
Hotels will offer the most comfort and convenience, but they will cost the most. AirBnBs are also a great way to maximize convenience with slightly lower costs.
If you’re feeling truly adventurous, an RV might be the way to go.
Everyone’s preferences are different, and that’s why you owe it to yourself to try as many as possible to find the perfect balance between comfort, convenience, and cost.
Make Sure You Understand Your Contract
Before agreeing to anything, make sure your contract looks exactly how you want it to.
That way, there won’t be any confusion about what you’ll be asked to do and when you’ll be asked to do it during your trip.
Research the Area First
Although jobs are usually only a few months, you should spend some time researching the places you might work, just so you have an idea about whether or not it will be a good fit beforehand.
Don’t rely on what you’ve heard or what the reputations of some of the locations are. Do a little extra research, and that way you won’t be stuck in an area you don’t like for 3 months.
Research Where You’re Going to Work
This is even more important than researching the area where you’re going to live. Every facility is different, and some are much better (or much worse) than others.
Spend some time researching the facility you might end up working in. See what other nurses think. You can find good info on social media sites like Reddit. Make sure the facility you’re going to work at has good reviews from other nurses (or at the very least, make sure you understand what difficulties you might run into).
Looking for an Assignment? Let’s Talk
If you’re looking for your first medical travel assignment — or if you’re looking for your next assignment — we’re here to help.