Travel RRTs (registered respiratory therapists) not only make tons more than their staff counterparts (some make well over $3,000 a week), but they also get to travel all over the country.
Traveling isn’t for everyone, but if you love exploring new places, seeing new sights, and getting paid really, really well to do it, then becoming a travel RRT might just be for you.
Here’s everything you need to know about what life is like for travel RRTs.
What Is a Travel Respiratory Therapist?
A travel respiratory therapist (RRT) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients who have difficulty breathing or other respiratory ailments. They often work in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
Travel RRTs provide treatment and care to patients in a variety of settings and move frequently, rarely working at the same hospital for more than 3 months. However, many hospitals will offer travelers the option of staying for up to a year by extending the contract (if you want to).
Some contracts can be shorter (1–2 weeks), but 3 months is the norm.
Essential Qualifications to Become a Travel RRT
In order to become a travel RRT, you must have a combination of education and experience.
First, you must have completed a degree program in respiratory therapy from an accredited institution and be certified by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). This certification is required for all respiratory therapists and is necessary to work as a travel RRT.
Next, you must be licensed in the state you want to work in. Not all states have the same licensing requirements, so you’ll need to check with your recruiter to find out exactly what you need to do. You may not be able to work in every state right away.
Fortunately, many staffing agencies will reimburse you for licenses and certifications, so if you’re wanting to work in a specific state, you won’t have to worry about the cost to get started.
Finally, most staffing agencies want you to have at least 1 year of experience, though some are okay with 6 months. Others might want more than a year, so you’ll need to check with each agency to find out their requirements.
What It’s Like Being a Travel RRT
When working as a travel RRT, it is important to be aware of the working conditions in different locations. You will be responsible for providing care in a variety of settings, from hospitals to nursing homes, and you must be prepared for the different conditions that you may encounter and the different patient populations you’ll be working with.
Because you’re moving all around the country, patient populations are going to vary drastically by every demographic characteristic you can imagine. This is good for your career in the long run as it gives you a wider range of experience, but it’s definitely something that takes getting used to.
Another thing to consider is that the workload can be demanding, so it is important to be aware of the expectations of the position and to be prepared to meet them. Every facility is different, and every city is different, so you might quickly go from a facility that’s laid back to one that has a heavy workload. You need to be adaptable and able to quickly get used to the new workload.
The Benefits of Being a Travel RRT
There are many benefits to being a travel RRT, including the opportunity to explore new places and the potential for higher pay.
The flexible nature of the job can allow for more time to spend with family and friends. You don’t always have to take one contract right after another — you can take breaks in between contracts. As long as your staffing agency is okay with it and you can afford it, you can take off as long as you want.
Because your salary is going to be a lot higher than a staff position, it’s not necessarily a big deal to take a month off of work.
The big benefit, of course, is that as a travel RRT, you get to travel to different locations and experience new cultures and environments. If you love variety and want to see the country, there’s really nothing like it.
Challenges of Being a Travel RRT
Although there are many benefits to being a travel RRT, there are also some challenges.
One of the primary challenges is dealing with the loneliness of being away from home for extended periods of time. However, because you can take a lot of time off between contracts, it’s easy to go back home regularly if you want to.
The other challenge is that moving a lot can be a pain, but your staffing agency is there to help you as much as possible. They often reimburse you for moving costs, so it’s not as bad as it sounds — you just have to get used to the idea of not cluttering up your living space and only hanging on to the most important things.
There are many businesses that specialize in providing furnished accommodations to medical travelers, so you don’t have to lug furniture across the country if you don’t want to. In most cases, the travel itself isn’t that big of a deal.
Ready to Get Started?
Being a travel RRT can be the adventure of a lifetime.
Ready to get started?
If you’re looking for your first travel nursing assignment — or if you’re looking for your next assignment — we’re here to help.