Travel therapy is one of the most exciting career paths for professionals in the allied health care industry. It combines personal goals such as seeing more of the country with professional goals like making a difference in the lives of patients. If you’re thinking about becoming a travel therapist or just want to learn more, keep reading:
In simplest terms, travel therapy is a career option for therapy professionals that agree to take contract jobs in cities across the U.S. (and even internationally) for short and long-term periods of time.
In general, travel therapy contracts are 13 – 26 weeks, but that primarily relates to certain settings such as Skilled Nursing Facilities, Hospitals and Outpatient centers. Other facilities are traditionally more flexible with their contract offerings due to their unique needs. For example, a position in a Home Health facility may last anywhere from three months to two years while School positions are often for a full academic year (10 months). Employers in any setting may offer contracts for longer or shorter periods of time, it relies entirely upon the needs and preferences of the individual employers.
Travel therapy as a career attracts professionals from every background and generation who want to see more of the country, live near family, earn more money on average, avoid office politics, gain experience, or pursue further education that would otherwise be limited by a full-time job.
The good news is, the requirements to work as a travel therapist are no different than the requirements for a staff therapist position. To become a travel therapist, simply start working with a recruiter at a travel staffing company. That’s it! So, if you’ve obtained the degree required for your discipline (i.e. Doctor of Physical Therapy) and received a license from the state you want to practice in, you can work as a traveling therapist.
For therapists trying to decide which type of facility or setting they want to practice in (i.e. Home Health vs. Skilled Nursing Facility), working as a traveler can give you the opportunity to learn which facility or setting fits you best. On a more personal note, travel therapy introduces therapists to new cultures and traditions, ultimately providing them with the ability to adapt quickly to new environments and therapy teams.
The most common contracts in travel therapy are offered in the fields of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology. Similarly, there are positions available for the different skill levels and areas of expertise. While some institutions look for veterans of the industry, others are open to hiring recent college graduates and those in their Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY).
You’ll need to be licensed for each state you apply to work in. Staffing company recruiters are often familiar with the licensing requirements and certifications for different states and can be a valuable resource to you as you apply for your state license(s).
It might seem like traveling so often would make it hard to socialize, but with Meetup Groups in nearly every city and the travel therapy groups that are popping up on Facebook and across the U.S, the opposite is actually true. There will be so many new locations to explore, that you’ll never get bored. You can meet up with other therapists that are also from out-of-state and enjoy some of the local activities together.
Travel therapy is rewarding because you can gain new strengths both professionally and personally. Don’t miss this opportunity!