Have three months off a year and still earn almost 175,000 euros? In America, this is possible, with the right job: As a travel nurse, you always work where you are needed.
For Aspen Tucker, it all started in 2020, at the height of the Corona pandemic. At the time, he was working as a nurse at a hospital in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Every two weeks, he collected his paycheck for about $2,000 (about €1,900). One day, however, Tucker saw a job advertisement as a travel nurse in Amarillo, Texas, about 2,000 kilometers away. The position brought in more than six times his previous salary, per week (about 6,200 euros/week). On the spur of the moment, he boarded the plane.
Possible in the USA: Earning money as a traveling caregiver
Tucker confessed to make it, CNBC's online financial portal, in an interview: "I hate to say it, but I didn't quit on time. I packed my bags, flew to Texas, and didn't let my manager at the time know until I arrived in Amarillo." Tucker said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him.
Since then, the now 29-year-old has been on the road and repeatedly concludes contracts as a travel nurse, which can last between four and 13 weeks. During this time, he works about 48 to 60 hours a week, according to make it, and puts in long shifts to get the overtime pay.
What should you earn in your job? This is where a look at the Remuneration Atlas can help.
Overtime can turn into free time
The goal behind all this stress and extra work? Quite simply: free time. Currently, Tucker manages to work in this way nine months a year. The rest of the time he spends in his hometown of Spartanburg or on vacation. His income in 2022 according to CNBC make it: 187,000 dollars (about 175,000 euros).
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In the interview, Tucker says that he loves living with his family in small-town Spartanburg and working as a travel nurse almost in the rest of America: "The big advantage is the low cost of living in South Carolina. I can earn a high salary as a nurse while traveling and still go back to where the cost of living is low."
Not the right working model for everyone
As a travel nurse, you can earn well. But you are always on the road and far away from friends and family. The work itself can also be very challenging, says Tucker: "As a permanent nurse, you may have eight, ten or even 13 weeks to familiarize yourself with the situation. As a travel nurse, you usually only have one day."
In addition, permanent employees are often not thrilled that the company is paying so much more for someone who is only on site for such a short time. "That occasionally leads to hostility," Tucker admits in the interview. Another point to keep in mind is that health insurance only applies if he is working. Between the individual jobs, he is not insured.
On the net, readers are divided. Some are not sure whether the stress is worth it: "Not ideal working conditions. Life is short and so very stressful. He may have months off, but he doesn't have free time if he works 60 hours a week!" Others, on the other hand, wish him good luck and success, while a third group says that the days of high earnings as a travel nurse are over: "This is changing again now that the pandemic bonus is gone. But health workers were able to earn really well during the pandemic."
By the way: The industry minimum wages apply to temporary work, which can also be higher than the statutory minimum wage.
What is the situation in this area in Germany?
In Germany, according to ZDF, the healthcare industry would probably collapse without temporary work, at least that's Stephan Kühn's opinion. He is an authorized signatory of the personnel service provider KBS Group and supplies hospitals and facilities with specialist staff: "We bring skilled workers to where they are most urgently needed. In doing so, we don't take anything away from anyone, but provide relief." According to Kühn, the better work-life balance is one of the most common arguments for temporary work, along with better salary and general appreciation – statements that also fit those of Aspen Tucker.
Temporary workers are now also common in German hospitals and care facilities. (Symbolic image) © Monkey Business 2/Imago
The United Services Union (ver.di) says: "Due to the high demand for skilled workers, the market is flourishing, albeit under different circumstances than is usual for temporary work. Individually, it is more than understandable that nurses want to get better conditions for themselves through temporary work." More and more nurses are switching to temporary work. A trend that, unfortunately, can have a negative impact on patient care and team cohesion. For whom is temporary work a suitable model? Each person has to decide for himself.