About 22 percent of the dietitians who work for us are traveling dietitians. Working with traveling dietitians is great because it allows Regional Account Managers to fill a position faster, especially if a local candidate can’t be found right away. Plus, it’s a great gig for a dietitian with a sense of adventure! If you’re looking for everything you need to know about becoming a travel dietitian, this is it.
In this article:
How do I become a travel dietitian?
Great question! The first step is to pass your RD registration exam. If you already have your RD or RDN credential, reach out to a reputable staffing company like Dietitians On Demand. When working with us, you can browse our open travel jobs on our job board. Or, submit your resume to our database and make sure to indicate you are interested in traveling on your resume. If you’re ready to jump in, go ahead an apply to a travel job you like. One of our Regional Account Managers will reach out to you to set up an interview.
If selected for the job, the first step is typically to apply to state licensure, if needed. You’ll need a license in the state where the job is located. Next, you’ll make lodging and travel arrangements. Depending on the location, you may fly or drive your own vehicle. Once these details have been decided, you’ll be on your way! The whole process can take as little as ten days.
What exactly is a travel dietitian?
A traveling dietitian is someone who temporarily relocates for work. These assignments typically last several weeks to several months, and some even convert to a salaried position at the facility. A travel dietitian works for a consulting company (like Dietitians On Demand) at the client site.
Where do travel dietitians work?
Our travel dietitians are scattered across the country from Maryland to Virginia to Florida to North Dakota and California, and they’re often in long-term care and acute care facilities. Travel positions pop up every day and are often filled quickly. (They don’t call us Dietitians On Demand for nothing 😉). A lot of travel positions are in rural areas since it’s typically harder to find dietitians in those areas. This allows for some epic weekend trips.
Deirdre Carlson, RD, LD, was a dietitian from Minnesota who worked a travel assignment in northern California. Deirdre was located about an hour from Yosemite National Park and San Francisco so she spent her weekends exploring the region. Here she is at Yosemite.
Pay and Benefits for Travel Dietitians
We want the traveling experience to be effortless and fun for the dietitian, and also beneficial to our clients. To keep it simple, Dietitians On Demand typically offers traveling dietitians a per diem in addition to an hourly rate. The per diem is untaxed money that can be used to cover travel expenses, including lodging, transportation (air and/or ground) and even meals.
Some companies hire contract dietitians as 1099 consultants, but Dietitians On Demand hires W2 employees. What’s the difference? There are several differences between 1099 and W2 employment. When it comes to taxes, however, there’s one big one. As a 1099 independent contractor, your employer is not withholding any taxes from your paycheck — federal, state, or local. As a W2 employee, you will have federal, state, and local taxes withheld from each paycheck, and your employer bears the burden of those taxes. As a 1099 independent contractor, you are self-employed and bear the burden of those taxes.
Every dietitian who takes a contract job with Dietitians On Demand, and works at least 30 hours per week, will be eligible for benefits. While you’re out there caring for your patients, we want to care for you. Your health and financial wellness are as important to us as your career satisfaction.
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State Licensure for Travel Dietitians
Not all states require licensure, and some require certification. So if you’re on the hunt for a new job, particularly one out of state, check the requirements. Each state is unique, but obtaining state licensure shouldn’t deter you from considering a travel position. Some states can issues licensure quicker than you can complete employee onboarding!
You’ll find out that each state has a different process to apply for a dietitian license. To find the application requirements, a simple internet search to find a specific state’s dietitian licensure board will usually suffice, or CDR has a great resource on each state’s specific license requirements. If you are hopping between several job assignments in different states, you’ll soon rack up lots of licenses. Keep the paperwork in a safe location.
What about Taxes?
Many traveling dietitians have questions about how to file their taxes when they have lived and worked in several different states over the course of the year. While we cannot offer specific tax advice, at the end of the year, traveling dietitians can expect to pay federal income tax, state income tax for their home state (if applicable), and state income tax for any other states (if applicable) in which they have worked and earned money.
However, you should be eligible to claim a credit on your resident state return for taxes filed and paid to the states where you are not a resident. In addition, some states have reciprocal tax agreements, meaning they have a relationship with each other and won’t charge you double taxes.
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Is This Job For Me?
Working as a traveler opens up the world. You can go anywhere and see everything. A sense of adventure is one of the most important characteristics of a travel dietitian. Besides that, there are a few other attributes that can help to determine if traveling is for you.
Here’s a quick list of ideal characteristics of a traveling dietitian:
- At least one year of experience in a clinical setting
- Proficient in electronic charting
- The ability to be flexible and go with the flow
- Work well independently and with minimal guidance
- Ability to start a position immediately is a plus
As a travel dietitian in a new location, you also may find yourself alone. Many of our travelers bring their pets along for the adventure, and you will always have the support of your dedicated Regional Account Manager, and a direct line of communication to them.
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How To Hire A Travel Dietitian for Your Facility
The process for requesting a travel dietitian is actually no different than the process to request ANY dietitian coverage. You’ll just submit a Coverage Request Form, found here. There’s a line on the form to indicate any travel allowance and this can include covering specific costs (like mileage and lodging), or if you have a specific weekly or monthly budget allowance, you can indicate that as well.
Once the form has been submitted you’re in good hands. A member of our sales team will reach out to discuss your need, provide insight on local and travel dietitian staffing options and guide you through the entire process from start to finish.
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Life As A Travel Dietitian
Life as a travel dietitian is full of adventure. Whether you’re responding to staffing shortages during a pandemic, checking things off your bucket list or greeting state surveyors on your first day, there is always something new to tackle. Working as a travel dietitian is exciting and allows you grow in leaps and bounds, both clinically and personally.
Travel dietitians have to be many things, but most important: be flexible. No two places are alike. Each facility, computer program, culture and population are different, as well as actual job. When preparing to start a new travel assignment, follow these steps for success:
- Research the location
- Pack your bags (we have a handy packing list)
- Research the facility
- Keep your first day questions simple and consistent
If you’re interested in applying to travel with us, submit your name and resume to this travel dietitian job posting. One of our Regional Account Managers will reach out to you to discuss potential opportunities that you may be a good fit for.
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Dietitians On Demand is the nationwide leader in staffing registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. Our dietitians cover a vacancy, maternity leave, vacations, FMLA or increases in census. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!