What is Travel Therapy? How to Score Travel Therapist Jobs

travel therapist in casual clothing overlooking canyon after a travel therapy assignment

Would you rather work a high-paying therapy job while gaining diverse, hands-on experience? Or would you rather take your career to new heights while getting to choose your own schedule? Well, as a travel therapist, you can choose both!

Whether you’re a PT or OT interested in travel therapy, this guide will help answer all your questions, including “what is travel therapy,” how to become a travel therapist, how to find travel therapy jobs, and much more.

What is Travel Therapy?

So, what is travel therapy, exactly? Travel therapy allows physical therapists and occupational therapists to work temporary assignments while traveling to different facilities within their area, state, or even around the country.

These assignments typically last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months at a time but can vary depending on the position and facility. Healthcare recruitment agencies, like CareerStaff, help travel therapists find these travel therapy jobs and even provide stipends to help everything go smoothly.

Overall, travel therapy is for the adventurous PTs, OTs, or other therapists who want to expand their experience, increase their scheduling flexibility, and boost their earnings. Plus, if you’re licensed in more than one state, the sky’s the limit with travel opportunities!

Benefits of Travel Therapy Jobs: What to Expect

What is travel therapy like, you might ask? Travel therapists get the best of both worlds, reaping benefits in their personal and professional lives:

Increased Pay and Bonuses

Fun fact: Travel therapy jobs pay more. Travel physical therapists earn 15-20% more than traditional physical therapists, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Travel therapists often travel to fill positions with high, immediate demand.
  2. Travel therapy recruitment agencies often offer bonuses and stipends that increase your take-home pay.

Improved Scheduling Flexibility

Travel therapists, whether PTs or OTs, can enjoy unique flexibility compared to most traditional healthcare specialists. You can customize your schedule when working with a travel therapy recruiter.

Want to take a breather between assignments? Go for it. It’s all about finding that perfect work-life balance.

Opportunities to Travel

Every day is something new as a travel therapist.  Is it your day off? Hike through a nearby national park, explore an exciting museum, or try local foods nearby. You’ll experience a variety of life, options, and cultures while still pursuing your professional goals.

Strengthened Skills and Resume

Variety is the name of the game in travel therapy. From different settings to unique patient needs, therapists can rapidly strengthen their resumes and confidence by diving into various professional experiences.

How to Become a Travel Therapist

Thinking of becoming a travel therapist? Here are six steps you need to take to make it happen:

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Start with a bachelor’s in PT or OT, or a related field like kinesiology, health science, or psychology.

2. Earn an Advanced Degree

From there, you’ll be ready to specialize and earn an advanced degree in occupational therapy or physical therapy from an accredited institution.

3. Pass the National Exam

Complete your program by passing the national exam. This is the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTs and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) for OTs.

4. Get Licensed in Your State

Each state has its own licensure requirements for PTs and OT licenses. Before you can start traveling, you need to plant your roots and get licensed in the state you want to begin practicing in.

Pro tip: If your goal is to eventually become a travel therapist, getting licensed in a Member State of the OT or PT Licensure Compact would be best. These states have a standing agreement with other participating states, allowing you to practice there without taking additional courses or exams.

5. Gain Experience

You’ll need practice in a familiar setting before moving around and applying to travel therapy jobs. Typically, you’ll need at least 1 year of experience before becoming a travel therapist. Have experience? You’re ready to travel in your home state!

6. Optional: Get Licensed or Compact Privileges in a Different State

Want to adventure beyond state lines? Remember: As a travel therapist, you must be licensed in the state you want to work in. While this might seem complicated, working with a travel therapy recruiter may help you find the easiest routes, especially regarding compact licensure.

PT and OT Licensure for Travel Therapists

What is travel therapy licensure? While the benefits are many, the licensure to access them can get a bit technical. For starters, travel therapists MUST be licensed in the state they want to work in.

PT and OT Compact Privileges

Fortunately, PT and OT Licensure Compacts can make this easier for anyone eager to become a travel therapist.

States offering “compact privileges” allow licensed professionals in good standing to practice in fellow participating states. These compact licensure programs are different for PTs and OTs:

PTs and PTAs

In 2024, there are over 30 states actively issuing and accepting compact privileges, with several more in the process. PTs and PTAs licensed in Member States are welcome to apply to travel therapy jobs in other Member States, thanks to compact privileges. View the PT Compact States here.

OTs and OTAs

There are over 28 states with enacted compact legislation for occupational therapists. View the OT Compact States here.

Note: States not participating in the Licensure Compact may offer other routes for employment, such as a temporary/limited permit with certain additional requirements.

How to Find Travel Therapy Jobs

Now, the burning question: How do you land these travel therapy jobs? The easiest answer lies in working with a reputable recruitment agency like CareerStaff. These agencies serve as your connection to exciting therapy jobs across your licensed state!

Working with a recruiter is the #1 way to find travel therapy jobs. ‘Quick apply’ to connect with a dedicated recruiter at CareerStaff, and they’ll help you find that meet your needs, goals, and schedule.

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