Understanding the Opportunities and Advantages of Surgical Technologist Travel Careers

Understanding the Opportunities and Advantages of Surgical Technologist Travel Careers

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In this article, we delve into the dynamic and exciting realm of surgical technologist travel careers. We will unpick the job outlook, salaries, qualifications, and requirements for those aspiring to take on this role, as well as how this career might compare to others in the medical field. Furthermore, we will explore the rewarding and challenging aspects of this profession, including the opportunity to travel and make a real difference in high-need areas across the country.

What is the job outlook and salary for a surgical technologist travel career?

The job outlook for traveling surgical technologists is very strong. With the growing demand for healthcare services and the shortage of healthcare workers, there is high demand for experienced surgical techs who are willing to travel to different facilities for temporary assignments.

Traveling surgical tech jobs typically pay much higher salaries than permanent positions. The average annual salary for a traveling surgical technologist is between $45,000-$80,000. However, it is common to earn over $100,000 per year with travel bonuses, stipends and overtime pay.


What does a surgical technologist travel job entail?

As a traveling surgical technologist, you would take temporary assignments, usually lasting 13 weeks, at healthcare facilities around the country. Responsibilities are similar to a permanent surgical tech and include duties like:

  • Preparing operating rooms
  • Ensuring sterile equipment is ready for procedures
  • Assisting during surgeries
  • Cleaning and restocking ORs after procedures

Travel techs need to be adaptable and comfortable working with new surgeons, nurses and fellow techs regularly. Strong communication and teamwork skills are essential.

How is the job outlook for surgical technologist travel jobs?

The job outlook for traveling surgical tech positions is extremely positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for surgical technologists as a whole is projected to grow 7% through 2029, which is faster than the average occupation. Travel jobs are expected to grow even faster due to shortages.

With the aging population requiring more surgical procedures, and experienced techs retiring, there is increasing demand. Rural and underserved areas also rely heavily on travel techs to fill gaps. Overall, the future looks very bright for surgical technologists pursing travel careers.

How much can a surgical technologist earn on travel assignments?

Traveling surgical techs typically earn $1,500 - $1,800 per week, which works out to around $60,000 - $90,000+ annually. With overtime and bonuses, six figure incomes are common among travel techs.

Here are some examples of total compensation packages:

  • $1,600/week base pay + $500 housing stipend = $2,100/week
  • $1,700/week base pay + $300 stipend + $100 completion bonus = $2,100/week
  • $1,500/week base pay + overtime = $2,000/week

Benefits like health insurance, retirement plans and travel reimbursement may also be included in total compensation. The high earning potential is a major perk of travel surgical tech careers.

What are the requirements for becoming a traveling surgical tech?

What are the qualifications needed to become a certified surgical tech?

To work as a travel surgical tech, you must first become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). The typical requirements are:

  • Graduate from accredited surgical tech program
  • Pass the National Certifying Examination
  • Complete clinical externship of 120 cases
  • Renew certification every 4 years

Some states may have additional licensing requirements. Having 1-2 years experience as a surgical tech is also preferred before traveling.

Are there specific certifications required for travel surgical techs?

There are no mandatory extra certifications for travel jobs beyond the CST. However, getting certifications in specialties like orthopedics, ophthalmology or cardiothoracics can make you more marketable.

Having an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate indicates critical care skills. A Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate is sometimes required as well.

How does one transition from surgical tech to travel surgical tech?

Once you have 1-2 years experience working as a surgical tech, you can start applying to travel positions. Having a broad set of skills and flexibility working in different specialties is key.

It's recommended to work with a travel healthcare staffing agency. They will help match you to the right assignments, negotiate pay packages and handle logistics.

Be prepared to pass background checks and drug tests. Enrolling in travel health insurance, disability insurance and setting up automatic bill pay are also good steps when transitioning to a travel career.

How does the salary of a traveling surgical technologist compare to other medical field travel careers?

Traveling surgical technologists typically earn higher salaries than their permanent employee counterparts. According to data, the average pay for a traveling surgical tech ranges from $25 to $45 per hour, which translates to $2,000 to $3,600 per week or $80,000 to $140,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the median salary for permanent surgical techs, which is around $48,300 annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When compared to other popular medical travel jobs, surgical techs fall within the mid-range for compensation. For example, travel nurses often top the pay scale, commonly earning $3,000-$5,000 per week. Physical therapists and occupational therapists also average higher weekly rates than surgical techs. However, surgical techs tend to earn more than medical imaging travel jobs like MRI techs, ultrasound techs, and radiology techs. Overall, while they may not be the highest paid, surgical techs can earn excellent wages through travel work.

How does a surgical tech's salary compare to a travel nurse wage?

On average, travel nurses earn significantly higher wages than traveling surgical techs. According to data from leading staffing agencies, travel nurses commonly make between $3,000-$5,000 per week, which translates to roughly $120,000-$200,000 annually. This is about 50-100% higher than the typical surgical tech's travel salary of $80,000-$140,000 per year.

There are a few reasons for this pay differential. First, registered nurses tend to be more in demand than surgical techs, leading to higher compensation offers from hospitals. Second, nurses have more advanced medical training and scopes of practice. Finally, nurse shortages across the country drive up travel wages in order to incentivize filling vacant openings.

What is the total compensation for a traveling surgical tech?

In addition to weekly pay rates, travel surgical techs receive substantial benefits and bonuses that make up their total compensation package. Most agencies provide a housing stipend, covering housing costs directly or reimbursing for rent and lodging expenses. The stipend often ranges from $500-$2,000 per week, depending on location. Travelers also receive meal and incidental stipends to cover daily living costs, typically $100-$400 per week.

Other standard benefits include health, dental, and vision insurance coverage, 401(k) retirement investment plans, referral bonuses, loyalty bonuses after completing multiple contracts, and more. When factoring in these benefits, the total compensation for a travel surgical tech can reach $90,000-$180,000 annually on average.

Who has higher pay - travel certified surgical techs or travel nurses?

Overall, travel nurses earn significantly higher wages than travel certified surgical techs. As mentioned, the typical travel nurse makes $3,000-$5,000 per week while a travel surgical tech averages around $2,000-$3,600 per week. In annual terms, travel nurses earn $120,000-$200,000 per year whereas surgical techs make $80,000-$140,000 typically.

The higher nurse salaries primarily come down to higher demand and more advanced qualifications. The nationwide nursing shortage has driven up travel nurse compensation dramatically. And nurses must complete more extensive schooling and licensure requirements, allowing them to take on greater patient care responsibilities than surgical techs. While travel surgical techs earn excellent pay, nurses' higher wages reflect their advanced roles.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of surgical technologist travel jobs?

What are some exciting travel allied jobs for an experienced surgical tech?

For surgical techs with several years of experience, some exciting travel opportunities include:

  • Cardiovascular Tech - Assist surgeons with cardiac procedures like pacemaker implantation and valve repair.
  • Labor and Delivery Tech - Aid obstetricians during childbirth and related procedures.
  • Plastic Surgery Tech - Work alongside plastic surgeons on reconstructive and cosmetic cases.
  • Neurosurgery Tech - Provide support on complex brain and spine operations.
  • Trauma Tech - Join trauma teams for emergency surgeries on critically injured patients.

These specialties allow experienced techs to diversify their skills and knowledge. Travel lets techs try out different subspecialties before potentially pursuing permanent roles. And the more complex cases provide constant learning opportunities.

What are the challenges faced by surgical technologists on travel assignments?

While travel surgical tech jobs offer excitement and high pay, they also come with unique challenges including:

  • Adapting to new hospitals, policies, surgeons, and colleagues every assignment
  • Potentially inadequate orientation/on-boarding at new facilities
  • Working with different equipment, instruments, and supplies
  • Learning new charting and documentation systems
  • Building trust and rapport with teams as an outsider
  • Fewer mentorship opportunities as short-term staff

However, experienced travel techs develop expertise and strategies for overcoming these challenges quickly. And the benefits tend to outweigh potential downsides for those who embrace the traveler lifestyle.

How does the lifestyle of a travel surgical technologist compare to that of healthcare travelers in other professions?

In many ways, travel surgical techs enjoy similar lifestyles and experiences to other healthcare travelers. The frequent relocations allow them to explore new cities and hospitals across the U.S. They also build bonds and community amongst fellow travelers. And they gain the freedom and flexibility that comes with temporary assignments rather than permanent roles.

However, surgical tech travelers tend to have more variable schedules than nurses or therapists. While nursing shifts are often 12 hours, techs may work earlier or later hours based on surgical volumes. Techs also spend more time on their feet in the operating room versus nurses who chart at desks. Additionally, tech travelers have less flexibility to pick up extra shifts due to reliance on surgical block schedules.

Overall, travel surgical techs share many of the same rewards and challenges as their allied health peers. But some aspects, like inconsistent schedules, make the technologist role unique. With both pros and cons, the travel tech lifestyle offers adventure and high pay for those willing to be flexible.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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