Cardiac sonographers, also known as echocardiographers, use ultrasound imaging to help doctors diagnose and treat various different heart conditions — a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) is a cardiac sonographer who has passed the exams administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
Becoming a travel RDCS requires you to have worked as an RDCS for a year or two (depending on the agency you apply to). Once you’ve got that experience under your belt, you can start your medical travel adventure.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming an RDCS and then getting your first job as a travel RDCS.
RDCS Schooling and Certification
The first step to becoming a travel RDCS is getting at least an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography from a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Although most places will hire people who’ve only completed associate’s level education, a bachelor’s is going to make you more money over the long run — and make you look better than other candidates.
Getting a bachelor’s makes getting work significantly easier since hospitals will always default to candidates with better education if everything else is equal.
This is especially important as a medical traveler since you will be working for a number of different hospitals each year, meaning your resume will be under scrutiny more often.
Once you have your degree, then you need to start focusing on your cardiac specialty.
You must be registered through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Although you only need one certification through these registries, the more certifications you get, the more employable and potentially higher salary you can make. This makes you more attractive to more facilities as a travel RDCS, so you’re able to get better contracts over your career.
The final step will be getting the proper licensure from the state or states you plan to work in. Not all states require licenses, but if you’re traveling all over the country, you will run into those eventually.
Travel Cardiac Sonographer Salary
As a traveler, you’re not just getting a salary or an hourly pay — travelers are given extra money to cover travel expenses, housing payments, and per-diem food expenses. Some of this is untaxed, which saves you a lot of money each year.
This is significantly higher than staff cardiac sonographer’s salary, who earn anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 each week, depending on the state.
As a traveling medical professional, you will be working on contracts that can be anywhere from 4 weeks to 13 weeks (most common), to 6 months, and even up to a year in certain circumstances.
The vast majority are in 13-week chunks that can be renewed as long as the facility you’re working at needs you.
Tips to Get the Most out of Your Medical Travel Experience
Medical travel can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
From moving around to different facilities and seeing new parts of the country to meeting more patients and colleagues in just a few short years than some people do in their entire careers, there’s a lot to love about medical travel.
It’s a lifestyle unlike anything you’ve probably experienced before. It can take some getting used to, but many travelers find that, once they start, they never want to go back.
Here’s what you need to consider before getting started.
Figure Out Housing
Whether you’re traveling to fast-track student loan payments, want to retire earlier, or just want the highest-paying version of your job, then there are different approaches to handling your travels, especially when it comes to how you should handle your travel housing.
If you’re just using medical travel for a fun new experience, then don’t be afraid to spend a little extra on your living accommodations. Hotels and Airbnb’s can be expensive, but it’s hard to put a price tag on the level of convenience they offer while you’re traveling the country.
However, if you know you’re in it for the long haul and aren’t incredibly worried about comfort, look into something like an RV. This will only cost a few hundred dollars each month (as opposed to thousands for a hotel or Airbnb, or even a short-term lease at an apartment or through Furnished Finder), and you can always sell it and recoup some of the money you put into it if you change your mind.
There are more housing options than just this, so make sure you explore all the possible options to figure out what works best for you. If you do decide to stay in a hotel or Airbnb, do your research beforehand — you want to make sure you have at least some idea of what you’re walking into. Read our post on Medical Travel Housing Options.
Research the Facility You’ll Be Working at Thoroughly
When you’re presented with a contract, you’ll want to do your research on the facility to make sure you’re going to want to work there.
There are plenty of medical traveler groups on social media sites that can give you insight into the facility you’re thinking about working at. Read up on what people have to say. Make sure this is a place you’re going to be happy working at. If you see any red flags, it might be time to look for another contract.
Utilize Your Time Off
In most cases, medical travelers can jump from contract to contract without much time in between jobs. However, working on short-term contracts provides a lot of benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You can use your downtime to get more certifications that will boost your resume (and your earning potential), or you can use it to rest, relax, and enjoy a vacation.
Because you’re getting paid significantly more than staff, you can take more time off if that’s what you want. Don’t be afraid to do it! Medical travel can be tiring. Moving every 3 months can be a lot of work.
It might be tempting to not take any time off and keep earning, but you don’t want to burn yourself out either. A short break between contracts can be a lifesaver.
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.