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Are Travel Ultrasound Tech Jobs for You?

In today’s healthcare jobs market, your value as an ultrasound tech makes you a marketable asset to employers and agencies alike and gives you the open-ended advantage of being a flexible employee. In fact, the flexibility to work in countless specialties and a wide variety of healthcare environments makes you a top candidate for inpatient and outpatient roles in travel sonography. It may be the right time to take your highly desirable experience in sonography to new heights and explore the wonderful world of traveling sonographer jobs. 

Whether you’ve been capturing images to track fetus development in the hospital or heart defects in a cardiac clinic, taking your ultrasound wand on the road and traveling can open new opportunities. Use this guide to learn the pros and cons of travel ultrasound work and see if it’s the right move for you.

Earning a Higher Salary

Being paid adequately for your work is one of the most influential factors to weigh before taking a travel assignment. Allied health professionals, such as sonographers, are in high demand. The market is projected to grow in the next 10 years and offer well-paying positions consistently. Cost of living and the quality of life you’re entitled to are driving factors behind salary, and you deserve to be paid sufficiently. 

Diagnostic medical sonographers rank among the highest-paid employees in the allied health professional field. With an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography, the average weekly travel pay is around $2,500. See where ultrasound jobs rank in our list of the top 10 highest-paying allied health specialties and see salary potential in more detail.

Depending on your experience, specialty, and location, a travel assignment could exceed the average wage and your expectations. Travel assignments can sometimes double the average compensation and pay up to $4,000 or more a week for registered ultrasound techs. Gaining travel work experience can also help distinguish your resume from others while fulfilling your dream to travel.

If you’re curious whether you’re getting paid what you deserve, or at least the average, compare your pay with the most up-to-date job market data using our comprehensive healthcare jobs salary calculator. It breaks down income by discipline, specialties, permanent or travel positions, agencies, and locations.

The Pros of Ultrasound Tech Jobs

Numerous Employee Benefits

When comparing the pros and cons of travel ultrasound jobs versus staff positions, a big misconception amongst healthcare workers is that you no longer receive employee benefits. While not every agency offers benefits, many ultrasound travel jobs include health insurance coverage, comprehensive benefits, 401(k) matching programs, and many other perks that staff positions may or may not include.

Many travel jobs offer concierge state licensing programs, weekly allowances and reimbursements, continuing education, referral programs, cash bonuses, and loyalty bonuses. You also have the freedom to take vacations between contracts or even during a contract if approved before starting. It’s an excellent benefit for someone looking to take more time for themselves.

However, one of the biggest perks of working as a traveler in healthcare is tax-free stipends for housing and food, if you qualify. Allowances vary by state and facility but can significantly impact your yearly income and are often weekly deposits.

Helping Prevent Burnout

If the pay and benefits alone aren’t enough of a draw, consider traveling as a great way to help you combat burnout or avoid it altogether. Sometimes when you get stuck in the daily routine of a staff job, the four walls can begin to close in on you. The humdrum of the same people and the same tasks day after day, the politics of the organization you work for and workplace drama may increase feelings of burnout. Unfortunately, staff employees can get lost in a big organization and often feel undervalued and underappreciated. 

Traveling for work is exciting and a great way to start fresh. You’ll have new faces to meet, new places to explore, and new patients to treat. It’s also a fantastic way to meet new people with fresh perspectives, to learn from them, network, and make friends along the way. Travel jobs are “no strings attached,” if you will. You can usually go to work, do your job, go home, get paid, and avoid the taxing duties given to a staff tech.

Learning New Skills

The experience you gain from traveling alone will be valuable beyond estimation. You’ll have the opportunity to broaden and sharpen your skills. Your confidence will soar, and the value you bring to your future positions is incomparable. Being challenged initiates growth, and growth allows for more wisdom to store in your tool belt.

The Cons of Travel Ultrasound Jobs

While all the pros of traveling are enticing, the excitement of a new workplace can also be a bit scary and intimidating. Being the “new kid on the block” forces you out of your comfort zone and comes with its own challenges. Because you’re new to the facility, even if you’re not new to the practice, you’re not yet “credible” in some people’s eyes. You might feel like you must prove yourself worthy to be there. 

Generally speaking, being a “traveler” can be lonely at times. When looking for jobs and comparing agencies, consider how far you’re traveling from home and how long you’ll be gone, especially for your first assignment. During your first assignment, consider selecting an area you’re familiar with, would enjoy exploring, and still be within a relatively close driving distance from the comforts of home. Vivian is a great resource to explore travel ultrasound tech jobs and compare agencies while considering all these personal factors. 

As you consider travel sonography and explore whether you’d be a good candidate, ask yourself these five things: 

  1. Am I comfortable with change?
  2. Am I okay with the unknowns? 
  3. Do I look at change as an adventure rather than an inconvenience?
  4. Am I okay practicing more independently?
  5. Am I okay with being away from home for weeks at a time?

Adapting to the change encountered in an unfamiliar facility, with new policies, new personalities, and different equipment, can be difficult. Likewise, change can also be a breath of fresh air and might be just what you need. Nevertheless, changes in your job environment aren’t the only changes you encounter as a traveling sonographer.

Finding Housing

Most travel jobs require a distance greater than 50 miles from your permanent address and typically last up to 13 to 26 weeks. Most travel health agents provide a housing stipend, but not all of them give you a place to live or even offer suggestions. You’re often responsible for finding and securing your housing, which can be challenging if you’re new to traveling and/or unfamiliar with the area.

Several travel housing apps and websites target healthcare workers to help you find the right fit for housing. Most travel housing comes fully furnished, and some are pet-friendly accommodations. As opposed to renting and signing a lease, many travel housing options give you the chance to rent month-to-month. Extended-stay hotels are also a housing option for travelers. 

Many healthcare travelers choose to hop on the “van-life” trend and travel the country in RVs and vans. Joining social media groups for travelers is an option for finding a roommate to split the rent or read reviews from other travelers on housing options in different areas. You might even find that as you travel from facility to facility, you make friends along the way for future housing options! 

Finding housing in a safe neighborhood while considering the distance to your new job is a big part of the search when exploring careers. Proof of payment, like your mortgage and expense for a rental in your travel location, are often involved in qualifying for and obtaining housing stipends.

Negotiating Contracts

Once you’ve found a travel job that looks promising, you might be wondering how to negotiate with your agency on contracts. Everyone’s preferences for contracts vary. Some grievances you might discover while traveling include fluctuating pay rates, pay cuts, poor work environments, poor scheduling, lack of control over scheduling, and ultimately, a canceled contract. 

Contract work isn’t always guaranteed, and sometimes you can be left with little to no notice when it comes to termination. The unknowns like “Where will I go next?” can be anxiety-inducing. Talk to your agency about their safeguards, if any, and their policies for these inconveniences. Guaranteed hours, PTO, relocation assistance, credentialing, licensing and shift times are all points you need to discuss with your recruiter or agency before signing a contract.

A good tip is to plan ahead and start researching and exploring options for your next travel assignment around 6 weeks before the end of your current contract. Take what you saw as a negative in your last role and find an assignment with an opportunity to turn it into a positive. Travel ultrasound work can be a path to career growth, independence and a life-long adventure if you accept the challenge.

Peyton McInnis

Peyton McInnis, RN, BSN, has been a nurse since 2018 and is ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy Immunotherapy Certified and Neurotoxin and Filler Injection Certified. She has dabbled in oncology, hospice, vaccination, and med-surg travel nursing but is currently a clinical educator and FNP student at Chamberlain University. In her spare time, Peyton is a 200-hour yoga teacher. She’s passionate about holistic care and advocating for self-care.

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