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Respiratory Therapy Travel Job Market Update: 03/2022

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is based on the current job market in March of 2022. This is a simple recap of where we were, where we are, and where we could be in a few months. It’s based solely on my own observation of the market trends over the past couple of years and what is happening. Do what you will with this information.

What a whirlwind the last 2 years has been in the Respiratory Therapy travel world, right?

So many of you have courageously leaped into the travel world to help save lives through the COVID-19 pandemic. You deserve your roses, so to speak—and then some more. You have been the unsung heroes through it all.

Please know you are appreciated and will continue to be.

In the last couple of years, rates for your services have skyrocketed because of the pandemic and the staffing issues it created. Before COVID, pay packages were as low as $1,100/wk for 36 hours.

In some cases, throughout this pandemic, contracts have paid upwards of $10,000 per week for 60 hours in FEMA contracts. Even on the lower side, therapists were making $3,000 per week for 36 hours on average.

Would you have ever thought that was possible?

This incredible growth in pay continued nearly the whole time-- with the exception of the summer months of 2021.

While we all know you are worth every penny of the elevated pay, we have all long understood that these were not permanent rates. Unfortunately, this money must come from somewhere. For the most part, these contracts have been funded by the government by the various states of emergency declarations and the allowances given to hospitals. But, many have been lifted.

Of course, because the government won't continue to foot the bill, the hospitals are now responsible for it. And, in their eyes, they can’t afford to keep pay packages at historic highs. Their thought process is that they would likely go bankrupt.

So, where does this leave the market right now? How does this impact you?

First, let’s establish that this current market is nothing new.

After flu season ends, the need for RTs generally drops. That results in less jobs and less pay.

Last year, COVID cases fell dramatically around this time as well, which caused a huge reduction in jobs and pay to drop at that point as well.

This year is no different.

Where there were 1200+ jobs available at any moment a few months ago, there are now about 400-600 open.

Pay has also dipped to a range of anywhere between $2000-$3000/wk for 36 hours on average (as of 3/2022). Some have dropped below that. And, of course, there are some above this range.

Every week is different and we will likely continue to see declining pay as we go through the summer of 2022. But, that's just a guess.

What we don’t know is what will happen with COVID in the future. We don’t what new strains will come about. We don't know what hospitalizations will look like in a few months. There could be a spike, but it’s also possible there won’t be.

So, will we see a dramatic increase in jobs and pay later this year? Your guess is as good as mine.

There certainly was last year. We didn’t expect it to happen at that point because there was a new vaccination available. But, it happened.

My advice to you is this: decide if you want to travel long term. Can you see yourself going back to a full time job?

Decide if you are willing to be flexible on pay, location, shift, etc. Right now, it's imperative to be flexible to be successful in your job search.

Consider if you can make your budget work on the current pay packages that are available. Figure out the lowest you can possibly take. If the market is paying below that threshold, consider going to a PRN job, full time job, or maybe even consider time off.

Operate under the impression that pay won’t explode. If pay does increase, that's all the better for you. All in all, it's a good idea to prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Have questions about travel or the market? Email me!

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