Radiation therapist marking face mask for radiation therapy
Allied Health

Are Travel Radiation Therapy Jobs Right for You?

Radiation therapy allows healthcare workers to serve patients who are often living with challenging health conditions. Many radiation therapists work in a single hospital or outpatient treatment center, but if you prefer a more dynamic setting, it may be time to consider a travel career. Travel radiation therapy jobs offer the same satisfaction and service opportunities as permanent positions with potentially higher pay and more flexibility. However, the mobile lifestyle of a traveler isn’t for everyone, so it’s essential to consider the pros and cons before you sign a contract.

What Do Travel Radiation Therapists Do?

Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to patients with health conditions such as cancer. Before a procedure, they educate patients and answer questions. During treatment, therapists locate the cancerous cells and adjust the patient’s position accordingly. They use equipment such as radiation therapy machines, x-ray units and machines called linear accelerators. Therapists also take measures to protect themselves and the patient from unnecessary radiation exposure.

Other duties include:

  • Providing emotional support for patients and families
  • Monitoring patients during treatments
  • Writing detailed medical charts
  • Following strict safety protocols
  • Conducting routine equipment maintenance

Travel radiation therapists have identical responsibilities but work temporary contracts at facilities across the United States instead of staying in one location.

Benefits of Travel Radiation Therapy

Attractive Salary

The potential for earning a higher salary is one of the most attractive aspects of a travel radiation therapy job. Healthcare organizations often need travelers on short notice or to fulfill a critical staffing shortage, so these jobs often pay a premium. Staffing agencies may add bonuses to sweeten the deal, particularly for rush contracts or challenging assignments. Your earning potential increases further if you move into an interventionist role because interventional radiology technologists are among the highest-paying allied health specialties.

Tax Perks

The travel contract of a travel radiation therapy job may also include tax-free stipends to cover the cost of housing in your new location, if you have an established tax home. Tax-free income can have significant implications on your bottom line. Untaxed stipends reduce your overall taxable income, so in turn you pay less in income taxes.

Travel Opportunities

Travel radiation therapy jobs enable you to try out different cities around the nation. You can explore new places and see parts of the country that you wouldn’t otherwise visit. If you’re looking for a place to settle down, each assignment is an opportunity to evaluate the region for planting future roots.

Flexible Scheduling

As a traveler, you’re in charge of choosing jobs. You can schedule back-to-back jobs or take time off between contracts to hang out with family or just relax and unwind. When you’re working, the predictable hours of radiation therapy make it easy to explore the area or meet new people.

Valuable Experience

Every travel job provides opportunities to discover new techniques, become proficient using different equipment and learn from other radiology employees. Accepting contracts in remote areas might mean you’re the only radiation therapist for miles. This type of  independent work environment builds confidence quickly and gives you great experience, so keep these locations in mind when choosing assignments.

New Challenges

If you’re feeling complacent in your career, a travel radiation therapy job is one way to shake things up. New contracts bring different challenges, helping prevent boredom and burnout. Meeting new people and navigating unfamiliar facilities pushes you out of your comfort zone and enables you to become a more adaptable therapist.

Networking Opportunities

Working multiple contracts per year gives you the chance to meet a variety of healthcare professionals. In the close confines of a hospital, your new colleagues see your capabilities and work ethic firsthand. Over time, your growing network can create friendships and unexpected job opportunities.

Drawbacks of Travel Radiation Therapy

Challenging Assignments

Travel radiation therapy jobs are often more challenging than permanent positions. As a new employee, you may feel pressure to prove yourself. This isn’t always easy, especially when you may be learning new procedures and operating unfamiliar equipment. If the staff shortage stems from employee unrest or organizational upheaval, it can create an uncomfortable and even more challenging environment.

Loneliness Happens

When you’re constantly moving to a new place, loneliness is inevitable. While you’re making new friends, it’s safe to expect a few boring evenings or solitary activities. If you’ve left family and friends back home, missing out on events with them can compound your feelings of isolation. Fortunately, you can speed things up by joining groups and attending company social events.

Inconvenience of Traveling

Travel radiation therapist salaries are high partly to compensate for the inconvenience inherent to the job. You might travel long distances and need to find new housing for each contract, research licensing rules and spend time negotiating pay packages. There’s also a certain level of unpredictability because the next contract isn’t guaranteed.

Are Travel Radiation Therapists in Demand?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates the demand for radiation therapy jobs to grow by about 6% between 2021 and 2031. In 2021, there were 16,400 working therapists, but by 2031, that number should grow to about 17,500. The BLS estimates 800 open jobs per year due to people who retire or change to different roles.

Licensing Requirements for Travel Radiation Therapy

As a travel radiation therapist, you must meet the same basic qualifications as other professionals:

  • Education: Radiation therapists typically need an associate’s degree in radiation therapy, but many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree.
  • ARRT registration: Pass the registry exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) with the Radiation Therapy (ARRT(T)) certification credential.
  • State license: Most states require you to obtain a state license and/or certification through the ARRT.

Your home state’s license doesn’t usually transfer across state lines. When you accept a travel contract away from home, you must satisfy the new state’s licensing requirements. While many requirements are relatively universal, like having ARRT(T) credentials, requirements can vary by state. Most travel staffing agencies will explain the current laws and assist you with the process.

How to Choose a Travel Radiation Therapy Job

No two travel radiation therapy jobs are created equal. Seemingly similar contracts can have drastically different terms. Before you start searching, come up with a list of things that are important to you. Then, evaluate each job based on your priorities.

Compare Salary

Travel jobs are an opportunity to make more money. Vivian’s salary data shows that travel radiation therapists average $2,685 per week or about $67 per hour. Comparatively, the average pay for permanent radiation therapy jobs is $44.05 per hour.

If salary is a priority, choose your location strategically. South Dakota had the highest-paying travel radiation therapy contracts on September 27, 2022, averaging $6,817 weekly, followed by Nevada at $6,700 per week. However, these aren’t the norm. The next three highest-paying states during this period were Rhode Island at $3,349, Vermont at $3,300 and Louisiana at $3,187.

Consider Location

Location may impact more than your salary. It can also affect your quality of life. Consider what you’re hoping to get out of the experience. For outdoor adventure, look for contracts in places like Vermont and Alaska. Travel jobs in New York or Los Angeles might be better if you prefer city life. It’s also important to consider the factors that affect your daily routines, such as weather, traffic, housing availability and local entertainment options. 

Review Contract Terms

As you evaluate a travel radiation therapy job, make sure the terms suit your lifestyle. Start with the contract length. While the average contract is 13 weeks, you can also find shorter and longer options. Then, look at the weekly schedule. Most positions have full-time hours, and some offer the opportunity for overtime. A Monday through Friday job with regular business hours might be preferable if you want to explore each new city.

Understand Licensing Rules

Every state has its own licensing statutes for radiation therapists. Before you accept a job, look into the education, exam and registration rules. If the state requires an exam, find out when and where it takes place. Sometimes, the process can take weeks or months, so it’s vital to consider how it impacts your schedule.

While some states only require ARRT national certification and registration for state licensure, some have other licensing requirements. If you’re in a hurry, look into states without any licensing requirements for radiation therapists, such as Michigan, Alabama and Missouri. However, these states may have exceptions for certain radiation therapy jobs.

Consider Job Availability

Facilities, regions or staffing agencies with multiple jobs often need to fill roles quickly, which is convenient if you want to start immediately. More jobs also mean less competition. Thus, you can be more particular about contract terms.

How to Find Travel Radiation Therapy Jobs

When you’re confident that travel radiation therapy is the right career move, creating a universal profile with Vivian and checking available travel allied health jobs is a fantastic place to start. Creating a Vivian candidate profile enables you to appear in employer searches, receive job proposals and apply for jobs quickly.

We work with numerous travel healthcare recruiters and staffing agencies that maintain relationships with healthcare facilities around the country, so we always have an abundance of jobs posted. Each job posting is transparent about duties, terms and salary, so you know what you’re applying for from the start.

Your network can also be a helpful resource in your job search. Inform your colleagues, former bosses, professors and college classmates that you’re seeking a travel radiation therapy job. Bring it up at networking events and mention it to relatives. Don’t limit yourself. Job leads can come from surprising sources.

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