International Travel Therapy: Can I Work as a PT/OT/SLP in Australia?

A question we get often is whether it is possible to work as a travel therapist outside of the United States. Since we are only interested in working as travel physical therapists inside the US, taking traditional US-based travel contracts — (with plenty of international travel for leisure mixed in of course) — this is an area that we know very little about. Luckily, we found a therapist who has worked in Australia for the past several years to shed some light on the process of working as a therapist abroad! Take it away, Tori! 


Guest post written by Tori Frost, SLP

“Can I work as a Travel PT/OT/SLP in Australia?”

It might take some time and research, but it’s definitely possible!

I want to share with you a little about my story, and then help you with some ways that you can also pursue working as a PT, OT, or SLP in Australia or elsewhere abroad.

My Story

I’m an American Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has been working in Australia since 2016. I worked in acute care for a bit over 4 years in Michigan, USA, before coming over to Australia. I actually thought about doing travel therapy in the United States, but ultimately I decided to move to Australia instead. I initially came over here to work as an au pair, and then once I was here, I decided to see if I could practice as an SLP here, because I didn’t want to leave! The rest is history, and I’m still here over 3.5 years later!

The Process for Working in Australia

Although the considerations below would be more specific to Australia, you’d probably have similar things to consider for another country if you are thinking about working internationally.

Things to Consider:

Visas – You will need a visa in order to work abroad. Look into which visas you would be eligible for and which would best suit your needs.

  • Check out the Department of Home Affairs website [immigration and citizenship] for specifics regarding visas [age requirements, etc.] 
  • PTs, OTs, and SLPs are all currently on the Skilled Occupation List, and may be eligible for the following visas:
    • 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)
    • 189 – Skilled Independent (subclass 189) – Points-Tested
    • 190 – Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)407 – Training visa (subclass 407)
    • 485 – Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) – Graduate Work
    • 489 – Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – Family sponsored
    • 489 – Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – State or Territory nominated
    • 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) – Medium Term Stream
    • 187 – Regional Sponsor Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
    • 462 – I also came out initially on a 462 Work and Holiday Visa [although there is an age limit of 30 and generally you can only work up to 6 months with one employer on this visa, which is a one-year visa] 

Certifications – Look into what certifications you need and contact the association directly if you have questions

  • SLPs – Speech Pathology AustraliaMutual Recognition Agreement [MRA] with ASHA – check out the website for specifics regarding applying through the MRA 
  • OTs – Occupation Therapy Council of Australia Limited
  • PTs – Australian Physiotherapy Council Limited 
  • OTs and PTs – you may be required to register with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) 
  • For other countries, you would need to research their specific therapy associations

Job Searching 

  • Word of mouth
  • Internet – Google groups, job search websites [e.g. SEEK, Jora], recruitment agencies, job boards on the association’s website, etc. 
  • Government websites [check each country/state’s individual Government website for positions]
  • As with travel therapy in the US, decide if you want to be in a specific area or if you’re open to working anywhere [some rural and remote jobs may be available] 

Housing and Accommodations

  • There are lots of Facebook groups and websites [e.g. Gumtree, flatmates.com.au] to search for accommodations and or/flatmates in Australia
  • Rent is generally listed as a price per week
  • Research similar housing sites for other countries

Other Things to Consider

  • Pay – Check out the pay rates, but remember if you’d end up converting it back to USD from the Australian dollar, it will be less
    • I wasn’t living/working in a large city in the US, but I have found that in general, cost of living seems to be higher here in Australia 
  • Transport – depending on where you are/your job, you’ll have to check public transport options or decide if you’d want to get a car [remember: you’ll be driving on the left side of the road in Australia!

 

Can You Do Short-Term Contracts?

In Australia and abroad, there are not usually your standard 13-week travel therapy gigs as in the US, but there are opportunities to do short-term contracts [although I’m not sure the likelihood of lining them up like you might in the US with the typical 13-week
contracts].

You would want to look for the word “locum” when searching for positions, which is the term they use often for temporary jobs. That being said, some locum positions might be up to a year if they are needing someone for a longer time [e.g. to cover a maternity leave, which is often a lot longer than in the US]. Locum jobs vary in length, and you might be able to find some short-term ones for a shorter number of weeks.

I have done one locum job here which was offered as a 12-week position. I worked 10 weeks at a hospital that needed someone in acute care [I found this job by word
of mouth through a Speech Pathology Australia branch meeting].

Are There Any “International Travel” Staffing Agencies?

There are lots of recruitment agencies out there if you search, which may recruit for
both temporary or permanent positions abroad. One of my jobs was advertised through a recruitment agency [Sugarman International]. At this position, I worked part-time for a private hospital, although I later was hired on/employed directly by the hospital.

Other recruitment agencies [I have not used any of these for my jobs] include:

  • Aussie Locums
  • Healthcare Australia
  • Global Health Source

There are probably a lot more agencies out there than this, but again, I have not found any jobs through these myself. However if you’re interested in trying to travel for work abroad, they might be worth looking into!

I hope this information helps you as you explore your options regarding working internationally as a PT, OT, or SLP.

Happy Traveling! ~Tori


We would like to thank Tori for sharing her insights regarding working in Australia and abroad as a therapist!

For more information on traveling, working, and living in Australia – please check out Tori’s blog – ‘Speech Down Under’ at www.speechdownunder.com.au