7 Top Traveling Medical Jobs

If you have or are pursuing a career in the medical profession but don't want to be stuck in an office, there are options available that may suit your on-the-go spirit. Some allow you to visit clients and operate independently. Others may take you to faraway lands you may never have imagined visiting.

Here are seven top traveling medical jobs you may want to consider, including details about the necessary qualifications and what you can expect to earn.


Sales Representative

salesman talking to a doctor

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Pharmaceuticals sales representatives and medical device sales representatives are always in demand. Depending on your sales territory, you may stay in your neighborhood or travel far distances. There is always ample room for advancement and a certain amount of flexibility in your hours.

Pharmaceutical sales reps are generally given a specific portfolio and basket of products to market. For their part, medical devices sales reps may be asked to market everything from hospital disposables to next-generation technologies.

Representatives tend to be articulate, goal-oriented, and love interacting with others. While there are no set educational standards to be a sales rep, applicants with a bachelor's degree or a background in a related field are the most competitive. Degrees in marketing, business, or biological sciences can place you at the top of the list.

The median base salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep is just over $98,000 per year with a total compensation package of just under $140,000. A medical device sales rep can expect a median base salary of around $86,000 with a total compensation in excess of $165,000.


Travel Nurse

home nurse taking an older woman's heartbeat

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Travel nurses are nursing professionals who, rather than accepting one permanent position, opt to take on a series of short-term assignments at various locations.

Travel nursing is great for registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and other nursing professionals who desire a better work-life balance and would rather set aside a specific block of time for work. In addition to per-hour or per-assignment payments, travel nurses are given a per diem that covers all living expenses for each day they are on assignment.

A travel nurse can only work in states where he or she is licensed. Some states offer a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), also known as a compact state, which allows you to travel to multiple states without having to obtain a new license.

Most employment agencies require that a nurse work in a hospital or licensed medical facility for at least a year before applying. In terms of salary, some travel nurses can make well over $100,000 for a 36-week year.


Locum Tenens Physician

a doctor reading a chart to a patient

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A locum tenens physician is one who also opts for short-term assignments in a variety of settings, usually when another doctor is ill or on leave. Ultimately, the aim of the job is to provide a continuum of care to a patient rather than altering the current prescribed course.

It is an employment opportunity well suited for doctors who are able to adapt quickly to new settings, colleagues, and systems.

In recent years, newly licensed doctors have joined the ranks of locum tenens physicians, oftentimes to "test the waters" and assess where the talents are best suited. Locum tenens physicians are in high demand in urban centers (especially family practice doctors) and can expect to earn anywhere from $600 to $800 per day.


Healthcare Consultant

Nurse presenting resume to hospital administrator during job interview

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There are many different types of healthcare consultants who help medical organizations run efficiently and profitably.

Healthcare consultants provide guidance in all areas of hospital administration and service delivery. They may consult on staffing, financial planning, patient flow, process improvement, cost-saving, operations, and more. Additionally, they may oversee major projects such as ICD-10 implementation, HIPAA compliance, and electronic health record (EHR) conversion.

The job is especially well-suited for professionals with a background in hospital administration and/or finance. The ideal candidate should have leadership qualities but also be able to negotiate personalities and often disparate demands from multiple parties.

Most healthcare consultants work for a consulting firm. Some operate as independent contractors, but that typically requires years of experience to build a client base.

While salaries can vary dramatically based on the skills and services delivered, the average salary for a healthcare consultant in the United States is just over $75,000 annually.


Military Health Careers

military doctor talking to patient

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Another way to travel or explore new cultures is to join the military as a healthcare professional. If you enlist early in your career, the military may offer advanced degree programs that allow you to expand your medical credentials without accruing additional debt.

To join, you would have to have a medical degree, meet enlistment requirements, and undergo officer training (which lasts between nine and 17 weeks).

Salaries for doctors in the military can run between $90,000 to $220,000 based on your rank and specialty. Nurses can expect to earn between $50,000 and $85,00 annually. 

While the income is often less than one would attract in the private sector, you will have a package of benefits (including housing and comprehensive health coverage) that may more than make up the difference.

In terms of travel, you can request assignments to parts of the world you've only dreamed of seeing. However, there is no guarantee that you will be sent to your desired location, so you need to be flexible, adaptable, and ready for anything (including deployment to areas of conflict). If you're up for the challenge, the military may be an option well worth considering.


Home Care Workers

Home Health Worker

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There are simply not enough home care workers to keep up with the demands of a growing senior population in the United States. These include:

  • Personal care aides (PCAs) who help with grooming, toileting, transportation, cooking, and household chores
  • Home health aides (HHAs) who oversee medications, manage wound care, assist with mobility, and monitor a senior's health status

Assignments are overseen by a home health agency certified to operate in the state.

Some states require PCAs to have a high school degree, and training courses (which take around one to two weeks to complete) are required. If your agency receives funding from Medicare or Medicaid, you will need no less than 75 hours of PCA training, or you'll have to pass a proficiency test or state certification evaluation.

HHA training requirements can vary by state. Some are no more stringent than those for a PCA, while others require to you undergo certified nursing assistant (CNA) training, which takes between four and 12 weeks.

PCAs make around $21,000 per year on average, while HHAs earn closer to $26,000 annually. Home health workers who accept overnight shifts or are trained in home hospice can expect to earn more. The job, while challenging, can be fulfilling to a person who derives satisfaction from helping the elderly and others in need.


Humanitarian Work

Home health care is one of the biggest growing businesses in the country. With growth comes scrutiny. As in AC which now requires a licensing application in order to open a company.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

This is a job for those who believe in the larger good. It places you in often stressful situations in parts of the world where you never imagined going. And it could very well change your life.

Becoming a doctor or nurse with an organization like Doctors Without Borders (DWB) places you among a rare subset of health professionals who believe that their work can change the world for the better. While the financial compensations are a fraction of what you could earn stateside, the rewards can be immeasurable. For some doctors and nurses, it is an ideal way to take a sabbatical and rediscover what drew them to the profession in the first place.

Non-medical professionals can join as field workers to aid in a relief effort, either on a one-off or ongoing basis.

DWB offers a tax-free monthly salary of just over $2,000 for all positions in addition to free medical, dental, vision, life insurance, round-trip travel, and accommodations. Language skills may be needed for certain assignments.

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Article Sources

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  1. Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare Company. 2017 survey of temporary physician staffing trends. Published in 2017

  2. Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Guide to careers in health care consulting

Additional Reading

  • Healthcare Informationand Management Systems Society. (2018) 2018 HIMSS U.S. Compensation Survey. Chicago, Illinois: HIMSS.