Love the Location, But Not the Pay? Negotiate Your Travel Salary


You’re a traveling healthcare professional presented with a sweet gig in a location you’ve been hoping for. It’s all good – until you see the contract. Turns out the location is great but the pay – not so much.

The good news is travelers don’t necessarily have to take it or leave it. In fact, you have the ability to negotiate salary, etc. to get closer to what you want. But it’s important to understand what your negotiating parameters are.

For example, keep in mind that all of your compensation, benefits and reimbursements will come from one source –  the Bill Rate – and you really need to understand it since rates vary greatly from location to location.

So what’s the best way to negotiate an offer vs. simply accepting it?  Here are 5 tips to help:

Understand Salary Ranges

It’s obvious that you want to get the best salary possible, therefore it’s smart for you to know about salary ranges when you’re negotiating. This is especially true for women. On average, male RNs make over $5,000 more per year than their female counterparts. One theory is that women are often more reticent to negotiate salary. Research indicates that the negotiation gap decreases significantly when women know salary ranges in advance.

Negotiate Reimbursements

Negotiating is about much more than focusing on your weekly paycheck as a traveling healthcare professional. You may be able to negotiate additional reimbursements that aren’t directly related to pay. So be sure to ask about them. The goal is to try to get the employer to cover as many costs as possible, so they don’t cut into your weekly pay. You won’t know unless you try!

Explore Your Housing Options

Travel housing is a big deal, and you want to make sure you get it right. You have choices – taking the company-provided housing or receiving a housing stipend and arranging for it on your own. But there are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Although you may be able to pocket some extra money by taking the stipend, there are significant tax issues to be aware of in order to be eligible to receive the housing benefits tax-free. So, before you make a decision, confer with a tax advisor.

Don’t Forget Overtime

Working overtime often goes with the territory and some hiring companies will negotiate overtime rates separate from the contracted hourly rate. The key is to get as high a rate as possible. Most companies will offer you time and half of your base rate (minus any tax-free amounts) for overtime. Know that going in and you can negotiate for a higher overtime rate.

Practice your Spiel

If you’ve decided to negotiate but haven’t prepared, you may not succeed. It goes without saying that you can greatly enhance your negotiating skills by practicing. You can do so with a friend or a neutral party. Whomever you choose, make sure they understand you want honest feedback. When going into a negotiation – with a lot on the line – the last thing you want to do is wing it, so prepare yourself for success!

At Focus Staff, we understand the ins and outs of traveling healthcare professionals and have access to a wide variety of excellent professional opportunities locally or around the country. To learn more, contact us today.

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