$50, $60, $70 Dollars an hour? I have heard these figures thrown around in reference to travel jobs for radiology. Sure, who wouldn't want that kind of money? An if you could do it on a sunny beach in Miami.... dream come true.
I floated that idea past my wife recently. I suggested she stay home for a few months and watch the kids while I go to some scantily clad beach and make tons of money. She didn't go for it. Partly because of, well, the entire thing. But also partly because those job opportunities are quite like bigfoot; You hear about it but never see it.
When I graduated XRay school a lot techs I knew snagged travel jobs. It sounded like a great time but I had other stuff going on in my life that prohibited me from getting on that plane. I did, however, call a couple companies and do a little research into the reality of the travel gigs.
While I was never offered $70 an hour there were quite a few offers that seemed attractive. Many paid in the mid $40's and offered generous housing and food allowances. They were so generous that you could live humbly and cash in on an extra $700 a week or so. I remember a gig in ocean city Maryland they offered for 3 months when I first got out of school: $30 hour, free housing, 8-4 at the local hospital. Not too shabby.
A friend of mine was a travel tech for a long time. He said the benefits were great but you have to roll with the punches. It isn't a dream job per say.
The truth is you have to be a flexible person who is fine with working in difficult (sometimes downright horrible) circumstances. First of all most of the travel jobs do not land you on a beach somewhere. Full time folks will die in the department before they leave those jobs. My buddy Chris and his wife wound up in Alaska. While he said the experience was amazing it was a little cold there. In actuality hospitals in Alaska frequently send out SOS's to travel companies. You could land in a hoppin' state like Idaho or wind up in a nice downtown ghetto.
Secondly, those jobs are empty for a reason. Rarely do radiology departments have to scrounge to find techs to work in this oversaturated market. Many times you are coming in to a hostile environment and a department in crisis. One hospital I worked at had 5 travel techs at a one time in the MRI department. You know there's something wrong when no one will work there.
Also consider benefits are tough to come by. Many times the extra money is given so you can buy your own health insurance, life insurance, etc. You don't get paid time off either.
Though its a tough job there are also a lot of pluses. If you are even remotely responsible with your money you will come out on top financially. These jobs demand a lot but also pay for it.
Have you wanted to tour the country? This is a nice way to do it and get paid for it! The travel companies will cover your travel expenses. And although many jobs don't land on warm sandy beaches, many do.
Lastly, travel techs frequently get the opportunity to take their pick of full time jobs at the various places they go. If you work hard and have a favorable rapor within the department there's a good chance they won't want to loose you. The ball is in your court to continue to travel or put down roots where you are.
My advise is to put your name in with a bunch of travel companies early on in your radiology career. I did this and didn't get a ton of calls at first but as your name and resume circulates around the radiology community the call volume increases. Although I never take them I get calls all the time for various travel tech opportunities. If my life situation was different I would jump on many in a heartbeat.
Are you flexible? Do you want to get paid well and travel? Check out some opportunities and call a couple travel tech companies. You may just wind up exactly where you want to be.