7 Ways for an RT to Make More Money
1. Negotiate a raise
This could be a whole article in and of itself, but here are a couple of tips on negotiating a raise. The most important thing is that you need to first be a good employee who brings value to the company. This means avoiding simple mistakes like showing up late. Avoid corrective action. You are going to make a case that you are worth more money. Be prepared to prove it. You need to show your boss the value you add to the team and point out specific instances you went above and beyond the call of duty. It’s important to keep detailed documentation of your achievements. Ideally, you should keep a personal log of significant contributions you made to your job from day one. If you haven’t, start now. For example, note how you saved the company money or boosted the company image, how you decreased hassle or stress on a project, and how you showed leadership under pressure. Use as many details as possible, such as numbers and facts. You’ll want to take five to seven of your most recent or biggest-impact contributions and present them in a bulleted list. If a patient gives you positive comments about your work, don’t be afraid to ask them to share that with your boss.
Don’t make demands, threats, or ultimatums. This only shows that you are not a loyal employee and that does not show value. It’s also generally not helpful to bring up personal issues as to why you want a raise, and it’s definitely not good to dwell on them. Keep your focus on why the company is better off by paying you more without making any demands or threats.
Sometimes, management is restricted from increasing salary. Consider negotiating benefits and perks. A raise doesn’t have to come in dollar signs. So before entering negotiations, think of other areas you are willing to negotiate such as vacation time, flexible work hours, stock options or tuition reimbursement. You might also consider bargaining for a more prestigious title or a week at a professional conference in Hawaii.
2. Don’t go down with the ship.
If your company insists on paying you significantly less than you could make elsewhere, it may be time to make a move. If you are offering stellar performance, and providing value to the company, there is no excuse for not making what you are worth. Many people will stick with a company out of loyalty or fear of change. But you owe it to yourself and those who depend on you to get what you are worth. If you are a good employee and not getting the market value, either the company is not doing well financially, or your services are not appreciated. Either way it points to poor management. It really can’t hurt anything to get your resume in order and shop around. Just make sure you know how much your skills are worth before you pursue a different position or a promotion, and don’t burn your bridges. Unless you win the lottery, it’s probably not a good idea to quit a job until you are absolutely sure you have another one.
3. Get Involved
Whatever your situation is, it can be helpful in many ways to become involved in the industry. Almost every state has a “society of radiologic technologists” that advocates and lobbies for issues that are favorable to this group. They usually have a minor membership fee that is offset by benefits and services. Also, they can be a helpful source of networking should you be in a position where you need to find another position. Plus, its a resume booster to show that you are active in the community.
If you are in a labor union, you can participate in their meetings and perhaps help to influence their negotiations with management. If not, you can network with other techs who may have some valuable advice.
Keep up on industry trends and standards. If you are ever talking with your boss, they will be impressed to see that you are informed and interested. Your strategy might include going to industry conferences, reading industry publications or setting up regular lunch meetings with others in your field to exchange information and ideas.
Make yourself visible. Network and mingle, making sure you are continually visible to others in your industry and your workplace. At work, take on difficult challenges and make sure that management is aware of your contributions.
2. Do the Time
Typically, more experience or seniority results in higher pay. But try not to get caught in a trap. In many cases it may be more profitable to move to a new job if there are no opportunities where you are at. When negotiating a raise or competing for a new position, emphasize your years of experience. But in many cases it pays off to stay put. A 3% raise every year doesn’t seem like much the first couple of years, but it compounds quite nicely over 20 years. Also, keep in mind your retirement plans, pensions, and benefits.
3. Get More Letters After Your Name
All licensed radiologic technologists have met the minimum education requirements. Some organizations reward those who go beyond that. Some schools offer Bachelor’s degree programs in radiologic science or medical imaging. eg. ( http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/radisci/ed-programs/medical-imaging )
But if you are planning on staying put at a company, you might want to make sure this will pay off before you spend time and money on it. Emphasize your education if it is more than what’s called for in the job – and it’s relevant.
Extra certifications can be an option also. If you are General Radiography, consider training for CT or MRI.
4. Talk the Talk
Some companies offer their own language certifications such as bilingual certification can get you a little bump in pay. If you have second language skills, you may want to look into leveraging that according to your company’s policies. Ask your human resources representative if they have information on Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) training and certification.
On the flip side of this, if English is your second language, and you are working in the United States, you will need to become fluent in order to reach the highest levels at any healthcare profession.
5. Shift Gears
In every hospital and urgent care, as well as some other types of practices, radiologic technologists are needed during less favorable shift times such as swing shift, graveyard, and holidays. These shifts typically paid a premium due to the higher social and physical costs involved in working outside “normal work hours.” You can expect to earn a little extra for working the second or third shift and holidays and possibly even weekends.
6. Take the Lead
Many companies are organized in a way such that there is a ‘lead’ technologist on some or all shifts. This person will take directive from management and lead the team of technologists in day to day activities. This lead technologist will sometimes get an increase in pay.
Talk to each team member individually and be sure you know more about each person than anybody else in the organization. Plan out your day to reserve time for this. Try to understand each person, his motivation and ambitions. Learn to enjoy being involved with people. Keep your own emotions and troubles out of the communication with your team. While you build relationships, keep an eye on team goals and tasks. Devote time to developing relationships with stakeholders outside your team. This includes bosses, parallel teams, clients and vendors.
Talk to your manager about your career goals, preferably goals that are attainable within your company. Remember, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”
Avoid petty gossip and office politics. You must demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness; getting in the middle of office gossip is a sure way to derail your career. While it is important for your career to understand office politics, especially the unspoken rules, you must ensure that you don’t get caught up in petty politics. Know the players, respect the players and even form appropriate alliances, but be careful how you play the game .
7. Can’t fight the Moonlight?
If all else fails, and you really need the money, you might be able to moonlight. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, about 8 million Americans work second jobs to make ends meet or pay debt and save money faster. However, beware, because moonlighting takes its toll. It’s mentally and physically exhausting and leads to stress at home and at work. But speaking from years of experience working two jobs, here are some tips for surviving a second job. For the second job, try to do something different or fun. If you’re walking around carrying cassettes, pushing C-Arms, and lifting patients all day, find something that is less physically demanding at night. Most jobs carry some degree of stress, but if your primary job is too stressful, don’t become an air traffic controller by night. Keep tabs on your on-the-job stress levels at your second job. Take on additional responsibility with caution. A promotion may mean a few more dollars, but it may not be worth it if your stress level goes through the roof. Tread carefully at your day job. It could be a dilemma to tell your boss, or not to tell them that you are moonlighting. On one hand, you don’t want your boss to think that working a second job would subtract from your ability to do your primary job well, but you may want your boss to understand why you insist on leaving promptly. Many employers won’t allow you to do any sort of extra work if it is remotely related to your day-job, while some employers won’t allow moonlighting at all. Those air traffic controllers, for example, are prohibited by the FAA from moonlighting, lest they be tired on duty and miss two jets converging head-on. If in doubt, ask. Honesty is the best policy here. Find a flexible boss if you can, obviously your full-time job comes first. So be honest with your second employer if you will need time off to perform well at your primary job.
Before taking a second job, figure out how much extra you want to make each month and only work the hours needed to reach your goal. If you can, designate your extra income for something tangible, like paying off a credit-card or funding a savings account. Seeing the results of your work will make the grind easier.
The additional fatigue from working two jobs will amplify the effects an unhealthy lifestyle takes on your body. When you work two jobs, you’ll be getting less sleep, though your body actually needs more. You’ll be eating faster and, most likely, less healthfully, when you actually need more nutrition. Finally, you’ll be tempted to consume more caffeine to get you through the day, when it may keep you from getting the good rest you desperately need. If you can squeeze it in, exercise, a balanced diet, and at least six hours of sleep will make a big difference in your ability to handle a second job. Make sure you’re off at least one night and one full day each week to avoid burnout. And if you feel like you are missing out on socializing because of extra work, remember that you are saving the dollars you would be spending on drinks or entertainment. Moonlighting will put stress on you, but it may put even more stress on your relationships. If you can, talk to your spouse or partner before taking a second job. Try not to neglect too many social activities.
Beware of the Tax Man. The extra income will put you in a higher bracket. Make sure it’s worth while. If you work limited hours, your second paycheck may not withhold enough in federal taxes each week, even if you select zero exemptions on your W-2. Take the time to calculate your approximate tax liability with your additional income and specify an additional amount to be withheld each week. Even better, put that money in an interest-bearing account. You will owe Uncle Sam come tax season, but you can pocket the interest!
Try to have an exit strategy and protect your day job. Unless you’re really ready to give up your full-time job, be vigilant about making sure your second job doesn’t interfere with your full-time employment. That means don’t work on moonlighting projects while you’re at your day job, and don’t slack in your regular job responsibilities. Continue to show up on time and be ready to give a full day’s work, even if you’ve been up past midnight finishing a project for an on-the-side client. If you’re trying to increase your income, losing your day job before you’re ready will quickly prevent you from meeting that goal.
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