Ever wonder how staffing companies come up with pay packages? There are a number of factors that go into it. Companies work with a lot of the same clients and they pay a certain hourly amount to fill the position regardless of the travel company. That means every recruiter is essentially working with the same “ball of money.” So why does it vary so much? The distinction comes in how a company divides up the various parts of pay. Some will pay higher salaries and lower tax-free per diem. Some will max out the tax-free per diem and pay lower salaries. Then you have benefits such as health insurance which can vary greatly. There is mileage or airfare or car rental that might or might not be included. The costs you don’t see include Vendor Management fees, non-billable orientation fees, company overhead, recruiter salaries, placement costs (drug tests, background checks, etc.), payroll taxes and, of course, the company itself has to make some profit.
One of the biggest mistakes we see travelers make is not comparing the total pay package and instead just focusing on one aspect of it, such as wages. In order to truly know what you are being offered between various companies, you need to know the exact pay breakdown. This would include hourly taxable wages, daily tax-free per diem amounts (assuming you qualify), any travel expenses paid, housing costs (either that you will need to pay directly or the company is covering), actual medical benefit costs to you, including deductibles, monthly costs, etc. And to further add to the equation, different areas of the country offer different pay rates, housing costs, transportation costs, etc.
Insist that your recruiter put everything in writing, with every aspect of compensation clearly laid out. This would include hourly wages, tax-free per diems, mileage reimbursement, medical insurance costs, licensure reimbursements, etc. Then you can truly compare apples to apples. Any recruiter who will not do this or only talks in weekly “take home amounts” should be a huge red flag to you to move on. You as a traveler also need to make sure you are letting the recruiter know what you need, i.e. housing requests, traveling with pets, whether you need medical insurance, are going to have to get a different state license, so they know what costs they need to cover.
Some companies will not negotiate at all and the pay for each discipline is the same no matter what. Some will only pay out a certain amount of tax-free per diem or mileage. Some will not allow any additional costs to be covered such as parking fees, pet deposits, etc., so make sure you ask and don’t assume.
One of the things we pride ourselves on at Cariant is the ability for our recruiters to customize your pay package. We do not utilize the “cookie cutter” approach. Your recruiter will work with you to determine where you want your pay divided and what costs you have that you want to be included. They will help you think through every situation and discuss the different variables so your travel experience is the best it can be.