As a travel cath lab tech, you’ll be responsible for a wide range of tasks, from assisting with angioplasty and cardiac catheterization to managing patient records and more.
Travel cath lab techs have to be highly organized, have excellent communication skills, and have a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology. It’s also important for them to be able to work well in a team as they’ll be collaborating with other medical professionals on a daily basis.
Once you’ve got some experience under your belt (usually at least a year, but preferably 2 or more), you can start thinking about becoming a travel cath lab tech.
Travel cath lab techs make significantly more than staff techs, but that’s just from a salary standpoint — there are so many more benefits.
The average travel cath lab tech can earn between $2,000 to $3,500 per week. That’s right — when you become a travel tech, you get paid weekly.
On top of that, depending on the travel agency you choose to work with, you’ll get health insurance for you and your dependents, a tax-free housing stipend, help finding a place to live (and help getting there), and so much more.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a travel cath lab tech.
What a Travel Cath Lab Tech Is
A cath lab tech is a specialized medical technician who is responsible for assisting cardiologists during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the cath lab. A travel cath lab tech is someone who does this job on short-term contracts in different cities — or even states — throughout the year.
The big difference is obviously the traveling, but there’s a lot that goes into that. You have to choose where you’re going to travel and where you’re going to live while you’re traveling. Some travelers live in hotels during assignments. Others live in short-term apartments or furnished apartments.
Some even buy an RV to live in!
Traveling can take many different forms. The most common type of contract is a 13-week contract, but there are contracts as short as one or two weeks.
Your contract can also be extended if both you and the facility agree to it. Extensions can only go up to 1 year for a wide variety of reasons.
One of the main reasons is that the IRS considers any work assignment over a year to be “indefinite,” which means that if you stay over a year you’ll have to start paying taxes for the state you’re now considered (by the IRS) to be living in.
For this reason, some travelers will move from one state to another at least once a year.
However, local traveling is also very much a possibility, and many travel cath lab techs choose this route. As long as you are working more than 50 miles away from your home, you’re considered a traveler.
This means, for example, that if you live in a very large state like Texas and your home is in Dallas, you could travel to Houston for one contract, Austin for another, San Antonio for a third, and so on — as long as you stay at least 50 miles outside of Dallas.
You would still see the same kind of income increases that travelers who go to other states see, but you’d be able to stay close to home and live in a state where you’re familiar with the tax situation, state laws, etc.
Ultimately, deciding which type of traveler you want to be is totally up to you.
What To Expect As A Travel Cath Lab Tech
Working as a travel cath lab tech can be demanding in ways you might not expect.
One of the big difficulties is that you’re essentially starting a new job every three months. You’re working with new people, but you are likely also working with different procedures and equipment than you’re used to.
This can be good and bad. You’ll get to see some exciting new technology that you might not have seen at your staff job or previous contract, but you might also have to work with old or outdated equipment (or a complete lack of equipment in some cases), which can make onboarding hard.
However, after you’ve done a few contracts, you’ll get used to the constant change and become more comfortable meeting new people and getting right to work. At some point, you’ll have a good feel for just about every technology situation out there.
That’s also one of the big benefits: if there’s something you don’t like about the facility you’re at, don’t worry — you probably won’t be there long!
How To Prepare for a Travel Cath Lab Tech Job
If you’re thinking of becoming a travel cath lab tech, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
The first step is to make sure you have the right qualifications.
This typically includes:
- Having all your certifications/licenses in order
- Having the necessary amount of experience (usually a year, but different staffing agencies have different requirements)
- Having all your compliance requirements in order (occupational health records, tax forms, insurance paperwork, and workplace training).
If you’re missing licenses or certifications, it’s still worth talking to a recruiter. In many cases, not only can they help you get the licenses/certifications you need, but they might even pay for it!
Finally, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure that you’re providing the best possible care for your patients.
Benefits of Being a Travel Cath Lab Tech
There are many benefits to being a travel cath lab tech. For one, you’ll get to travel to different locations and experience new places — this is the big one! Going to a new city for 3 months gives you tons of time to explore.
Instead of paying for a vacation to New York City, you can get paid to go — and be able to see everything you want to see while you’re there at your leisure, rather than cramming it all into a few days of vacation.
You’ll also have the chance to work with a variety of patients and see a wide variety of medical issues, medical solutions, and technology. This is a huge benefit to your career and makes even a year of experience worth much more than even 2 or 3 years at the same hospital.
You’ll have more knowledge than your peers, which means that, if you decide to stop traveling, you can get a higher salary wherever you settle down.
Ready to Get Started?
Being a travel cath lab tech can be a rewarding and challenging career. It offers plenty of opportunities for growth and professional development as well as the chance to make a real difference in the lives of your patients.
If you’re looking for your first travel nursing assignment — or if you’re looking for your next assignment — we’re here to help.