Traveling sterile processing techs is something that I had never heard of until about a year and a half ago when my facility contracted two travelers to help us in our desperate time of need. Working with our new travelers I had learned quite a bit about what it’s like to travel and to be honest it sounded to good to be true. It didn’t take long before I was convinced that I wanted to travel. Next thing you know I’m driving 1,000 miles away to my first assignment. Although I ultimately only traveled for a little over a year, I had learned so much about the traveling industry. So I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you from my own personal experience as well as what I’ve learned from other travelers and recruiters. So if you’re interested in traveling, this is your step by step guide!
Pick Your Agency
There are a large number of agencies out there to choose from, HERE you can find some agencies that we strongly recommend. Then you need to decide which agency is a good fit for you.
Things to Look for When Choosing an Agency
- Jobs offered: Do they offer jobs in areas you’d prefer to travel? What hours and shifts are available? What is the contract length?
- Reputable: Has the agency received good reviews from past and current contractors?
- Accessible: Is the recruiter available to answer your questions? Are you constantly put on hold or sent to an assistant?
- Benefits: Do they offer health insurance? Retirement account, 401K? Employee assistance program?
- Pay & Compensation package: Is the pay competitive? Over time, holiday, and on-call pay? Do they offer housing? Food and incidental allowance? Weekly or bi-weekly paychecks?
- Bonuses & perks: Do they offer completion bonuses or referral bonuses? Travel reimbursement? Tax advantages?
*Note: It is a good idea to get established with at least two agencies. Upon the completion of an assignment, one agency may have an assignment that you would prefer over the other. Or perhaps in the event, something should go wrong its good to have a backup.
Once you have chosen the agency or agencies right for you, then comes the credentialing process. This process involves getting all of the necessary documentation to the agency to clear you for work.
- Certifications: IAHCSMM/ CBSPD and BLS/ CPR.
- Vaccinations: Hep B, TDAP, MMR, Flu etc…
- Facility & Agency specific documents: Confidentiality, contracts, proof of permanent residence, tax forms.
Negotiating Your Contract
Here is where things can get a little confusing. Many of the agencies set up their compensation packages differently. So it is important to understand what you agreeing to prior to heading out to your first assignment. Here are some important things to consider.
- Contract length: Contracts are typically 13 weeks.
- Housing allowance: Amount depends on the location of assignment.
- Food and incidentals allowance: Normally between $25 – $35 daily.
- Missed hours policy: Some agencies require you to work your full 40 or they deduct money from your allowances.
- Guaranteed hours: It is important to ensure your hours are guaranteed in the event of low census.
- Base pay: Usually the bulk of your money comes from pocketed allowances (which are tax-free). However, base pay varies on location.
- Overtime & Holiday pay: Can be as much as triple your base pay. I’ve found that overtime is easily negotiable.
- Travel reimbursement: Most agencies will pay your travel cost in your first paycheck, although some cap at $500.
- Time off: If you plan to take any time off, it must be written into the contract.
*Note: It is imperative that you get everything in writing and read over your contract. Never assume that something told to you by a recruiter is definite!
*Note: It is also important to note that you have more negotiating power after your first assignment. The first assignment is more of a learning experience. You can then come back to the negotiating table knowing what to expect.
Beginning your first assignment in a new city can be very exciting. Here are some important things to consider prior to leaving, what to bring and the common mistakes that new travelers make.
Beginning an Assignment
- Leaving to early: Do not depart to your new assignment prematurely. Although you may want to get a head start and get set up, there is always the possibility of something falling through. You don’t want to travel 1,000 miles from home to find out they pushed your start date back or the contract got canceled.
- Do not over pack: You may be compelled to bring everything you own, but understand that you will be lugging all of your stuff from place to place by yourself. Just bring the essentials.
- Service your vehicle: Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. You don’t want to get stranded during your travels.
- Have some savings: Please don’t venture out into the travel industry without any money saved in case of an emergency or unfortunate event.
These are just some of the main things that techs come across during their first assignment. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below, also if there is anything of importance that techs should know please leave a comment.