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Understanding Your Pay

Tips for making the money conversation a little more bearable.

Part of why traveling nurses do what they do is the newness of it all—the prospect of finding your next placement and starting a new assignment in an unexplored place can be thrilling. Less exciting, however, is negotiating and understanding your pay package at each new stop.

As a traveler, knowing how to understand these breakdowns—especially when comparing compensation packages from multiple agencies—can ease that stress of understanding what the money you’re earning is doing for you. (And how much is actually going to show up in your bank account.)

We pulled together some tips that may help you avoid any confusion and potential pitfalls when discussing your next salary negotiation and make your new placement pay off.

Your Base Pay

A trick many agencies use is to quote weekly gross or weekly take-home pay to entice travelers to reach out to them. In reality, unless you’re already an existing employee with the travel company, they can’t accurately give you a quote. They also can’t say what percentage of a quote you’d be taking home, and how many hours per week that number is based on.

A better option is to understand what your base hourly pay will be, so you can calculate your take-home based on how many hours you’d ideally like to work and the tax rates where you’d be working. Get a detailed breakdown of every element of a proposed compensation package—yes, it can be annoying, but it’s worth it in the long run.

"Free" Isn't Free

You’ve heard that there’s no such thing as a free lunch—the same applies to anything being offered to you for free by any agency. Healthcare staffing is a business, so if something is being offered to you for free, know that it’s costing the staffing agency—and probably you—something along the line. For instance, a free apartment is actually being factored into your hourly rate, so you’re paying for it without ever seeing a bill. And on the flip side, when you work more hours than your contract guarantees, you’re giving the agency free money. Great for them, not so great for you.

Know Your Costs

Knowing your tax bracket, understanding how your pay is determined and understanding non-taxable/taxable stipends is key. Your agency has a contract with each facility where you might work, and their pay package is a product of the bill rate. The bill rate is final with the hospital and agency, and your agency can then negotiate the terms of your compensation package such as your hourly rate, housing costs, meals, travel, and any other non-taxable or taxable reimbursements. There may be some wiggle room, but remember there is only so much your agency, and your recruiter, can do.

It’s Not ALL About Money

There are things certain agencies can offer you that money can’t buy. Finding a recruiter you connect with who is constantly keeping your best interests in mind and is there for you has its own worth. Great quality-of-life perks also might make a lower salary worth considering. And getting the location you want or the hours you need might be more important in the long run than a bigger paycheck.

Invest in Relationships

Staffing agencies are an invaluable resource for travelers, since their existing relationships with employers make finding your next placement that much easier. It’s smart to build relationships with no more than two staffing agencies at a time—when a team member at an agency like AMP gets to know you personally, they can be on the lookout for placements that suit your needs and serve your career goals.

For more tips on understanding pay packages tailored specifically to travel nurses, Blue Pipes offers a great sample breakdown of a Travel Nursing Pay Package. The more you can prepare yourself in advance of your next job search, the better off you—and your bank account—will be.

Ready to find a new placement? Get in touch with us today to hear about our latest openings.

Call Advantage Medical Professionals 504.456.0073

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