November 20, 2017

Are You Thinking of Becoming a Traveling Surgical Technologist?

A Traveling Surgical Technologist is not quite like a traveling salesperson. I promise, you will never be knocking on someone’s door in the middle of the afternoon, asking if they are interested in a little afternoon surgery. You will, however, have the opportunity to move and travel all over the country if you choose to take this job. You will also have more flexibility in deciding how much of the year you would like to work, and to decide what part of the country you would like to live in next.

There are many different agencies to choose from, and it’s important for you to understand all of the details that are in the contract. Just as you might go to several interviews at different hospitals in your home-town to see what the best offer is that you could get, you should talk to several different agencies before you sign your contract. Some agencies have positions that last as little as 13 weeks, and others may last six months or more. You’ll need to make sure that the contract and the company you choose are ones that you are comfortable with. You could also be given the opportunity to have a significant amount of input over the terms and limitations of your contract.

Other agencies may provide your housing to you, free of charge, but you will want to make sure that you know what that consists of. If your housing is a bed, a couch, and a towel, that might not meet your needs. If you’ll have to buy all the extra things for your temporary home, and then either move them, sell them, or transport them after only a few months, you should know that going in. You may also have the option of making your own living arrangements, and being responsible for the financial part of those arrangements, while receiving a generous subsidy from the company you work for.

I know of at least one traveling surgical technologist who was very upset to find out that while she was supplied with a “furnished” apartment, she had no sheets, towels, blankets, dishes, or television set. Yes, technically, you may be able to live without some or all of those items, but very few people would actually want to. This is particularly in a new city, where you don’t know anyone, when you might be working ten or twelve hour days as soon as you arrive in the city.

Generally, the successful candidate who gets hired as a traveling Surgical Technologist will have at least one year, but preferably two years experience as a Surgical Technologist. There are still a few agencies that will hire individuals who lack a certificate, but your salary will not be as high as others who have that certificate. The more experience you have, particularly in cardiology, neurology, or general surgery, the better your chances are of being hired. Even if you don’t have as much experience as the agencies generally prefer, if you have excellent references from previous instructors or hospitals, you could still be hired.

Although the amount of money that you make will vary tremendously, in general, you may have the highest earning capacity in California, and some of the new England States, because they have a higher cost of living. It’s also true that more than one person has been asked to stay at the job they were placed at, and in some cases, that could represent a much higher pay structure. This is another situation, where you will need to understand, and possibly even verify, the terms  of the contract. I have never been a traveling surgical technologist, since I’ve always stuck close to home, but I am sure that the possibility of offers of employment is addressed.

Traveling Internationally

You will also have the opportunity to travel outside of the country. That might include somewhere fun like the Virgin Islands, or somewhere unique like Sydney, Australia or even New Zealand. There are only a few companies that handle overseas jobs, and there will usually be some very specific qualifications for people to be able to work those assignments. I’ve always thought that this would be an absolutely amazing way to see the world, particularly if you were working for a company that pays for your apartment and living expenses.

What if You Want to Take Some Time Off?

If you want to take some time off, and perhaps work only six or nine months out of the year, this might be an excellent career choice for you. Of course, you would have to make sure that your contract allowed that, which might mean making it clear when you were hired what your plans are, but in general, this type of temporary work would allow you the flexibility you need to really be able to enjoy your life.

The life of a Traveling Surgical Technologist can be stressful, fun, interesting, memorable, and frustrating, sometimes all in the same day. That is not an attempt to dissuade anyone from choosing this job, but it’s important for anyone who is considering this career choice to be well-informed of how it could end up. If you get to a hospital where they are not very welcoming to their temporary staff, you will still have to stick it out. If you dislike the hospital where you are placed at, or miss your home desperately, the terms of your contract will still require you to stay until your contract is up. At home, if you disliked something and were truly unhappy, you would have the opportunity of looking for a new job, and that is a luxury that will no longer exist for you when you are traveling .

That being said, I am very pleased to report that in general, every traveling surgical technologist that I have ever known has always seemed to be very happy with their job, really seemed to like traveling, and was always very competent at his or her job. Do a little research, make a few phone calls, and pack a bag, there’s a lot of demand for people who can do this!