Are you in trying to decide what company or companies to work with as you start your journey as a traveling therapist? Do certain companies offer more bang for your buck than others? Overwhelmed with all the choices and not quite sure where to start? Here are some tips to help simplify the process.
Staffing agencies make their income and meet profit margins by placing therapists in travel assignments. Each assignment will have a set bill rate. This is the rate that the facility agrees to pay the staffing agency for every hour the contracted therapist works. Bill rates will vary based on a number of factors including setting and location. Let’s look at the bill rate as a pizza pie. This pizza is shared between the staffing agency and the therapist. Sometimes, a vendor management service or hospital association (the source the staffing agency found the job through) will also take a piece of pizza. The staffing agency then takes their slice of the pizza based on calculations needed to make a certain profit margin once burden and overhead costs have been accounted for. In a great presentation at last years’ Travelers Conference, it became clear that for companies to make a 3-5% profit margin, they would need to take anywhere from 20-25% of any given bill rate. The rest of the pizza pie goes to the traveler.
Now that you have your portion of the pie, how do you want it sliced? It is important to know that there is no free money in travel. Every agency has roughly the same earning potential since they all have fairly equal access to jobs. The first slice of your pie is your benefits package and the remaining portion of your pie consists of your weekly pay package. In the end, the total value of the pie is the same, but how do you like it sliced? Do you want a large slice of pie featuring all the benefits imaginable or would you rather have a larger piece of pie each week for your weekly paycheck? Examples of benefits that come out of the pie include medical/vision/dental, PTO, travel reimbursement, licensure reimbursement, live CEU course reimbursement, rental cars, and company-paid housing. Do you need company insurance or would you rather carry your own and make more money each week? Do you need paid time off calculated into your total pay package or would you rather take unpaid time off, but make slightly more each week? Do you want license and travel reimbursement on that first check to offset expenses or would you rather go without and make more each week? Do you want the company-paid housing for convenience or to find your own and have a larger slice of pie each week? These are all things to think about before slicing your pizza. Here are a few examples of ways the pizza could be sliced.
In the travel therapy industry, there are typically two types of medical benefits. Some staffing agencies will offer day 1 medical benefits and other staffing agencies will offer medical benefits on the first day of the month following the start of the assignment. For example, if an assignment began on November 15th, company A would offer medical benefits November 15th and company B would offer medical benefits December 1st. If the assignment began on December 2nd, company A would offer medical benefits December 2nd and company B would offer medical benefits January 1st. As was mentioned before, benefits come off the top of the pay package. The company will always be able to offer a higher pay package if a traveler doesn’t need medical benefits (and I’m not talking about the weekly premium deductions). Typically $80-$100 per week accounts for the medical, dental, and vision benefits. As a generality, day 1 medical coverage is more expensive to companies and therefore more expensive to the travelers.
Many staffing agencies have unique programs that they utilize to set themselves apart from their competitors. These perks can range from small incentives such as travel for miles, wellness programs, and free online CEUs to larger benefits such tuition reimbursement, mentorship programs, paid reward days, and free all-inclusive trips!!!! It all sounds amazing, but you can’t have it all…. Sorry!!! So what’s important to you as you start your travel journey?
In conclusion, everyone likes their pizza a certain way. There is no right or wrong way to slice the pizza pie as long as it’s YOUR way!