Travel Therapy Job Market Outlook for 2023

2022 was a blockbuster year for the travel therapy job market and the industry as a whole. It looked like it would be a good year when writing our 2022 travel therapy job market outlook, but it turned out even better than I anticipated. We saw some new all time highs in average pay packages and number of open jobs, particularly for PTs and SLPs, especially in the first half of the year. Our travel therapy jobs list exploded in number of jobs due to all of the really good and high paying contracts. It looked like that trend was possibly reversing around the middle of the year, but instead things mostly leveled off at a new higher baseline. Most of the travel companies that we work with set new records for travel therapist placements and also for the bill rates they were seeing.

For us at Travel Therapy Mentor, we had a big year of growth as well. We interviewed and added several new travel companies and over a dozen new recruiters throughout the year as the volume of therapists contacting us interested in getting connected with good recruiters increased. Unfortunately we also had to remove some that weren’t upholding the standards that we expect based on feedback we received in our contract completion forms. We ended 2022 with 14 travel therapy companies and 54 recruiters at those companies to whom we now send prospective travel therapists.

Holiday Travel Therapy Job Market Lull

Normally around the end of December and beginning of January, there’s a lull in the travel therapy job market. This happens for a variety of reasons including new year budgets being in flux, hiring managers taking time off, and travel therapists wanting to be home for the holidays and start fresh in January, causing a lot of competition. Fortunately though, for the third straight year we saw only very little slow down in the job market at the beginning of January. The market stayed strong through the holidays and the beginning of the year, which has been a good indicator of how the rest of the year will go lately. Here’s a live video of us discussing the January job market lull way back in 2019.

Is 2023 a Good Time to Take a Travel Therapy Job?

The beginning of the year seems to be the time when many therapists start considering jumping into travel therapy. We always get lots of social media messages and emails around this time asking if it’s a good time to start traveling and how the rest of the year looks for the market. Each year, as we get more knowledgeable about the industry, and we get better at spotting trends and predicting what’s to come. We also have the advantage of having frequent contact and getting insight from travel therapy recruiters, managers, and company owners at a variety of different companies. We consulted all of them to get some fresh data in terms of current job numbers for each discipline, as well as how they see the rest of the year unfolding.

Here are the ranges we received for the current open travel job numbers by discipline:

  • PT: 420-900
  • SLP: 100-1,300
  • OT: 115-425
  • PTA: 65-175
  • COTA: 30-100

You probably have a couple of questions when looking at these numbers: Why is the range so large, and how do these numbers compare to periods in the past? Let’s go ahead and answer those questions.

The reason the range is so wide is because we work with a large variety of travel companies from very small (1 recruiter) to absolutely massive (100+ recruiters). A consistent trend we’ve seen when looking at the data from this variety of companies is that often bigger companies usually have access to a larger number of jobs when compared to smaller companies. With that being said, it’s probably not a good idea to only work with the large companies because often smaller companies can pay better than a large company if they have the same job due to having lower overhead, and sometimes smaller companies may have direct connections with niche jobs that some of the larger companies may not have.

We often get questions about the highest paying travel therapy companies, and while there are some common themes, there’s no one size fits all answer. We always recommend working with a few different companies to see a variety of job options, including at least one big company and one small company for this reason.

In terms of the job numbers, compared to last year at this time, the number of open travel jobs is about the same or slightly higher for each discipline. Last year records were being broken, but this year is even better! The OT, PTA, and COTA job markets are all better than at the beginning of 2022, while PT and SLP are around the same but still extremely strong. Overall, it’s a great time to be a travel therapist.

How is the Travel Therapy Job Market likely to Change Throughout 2023?

As I mentioned above, I was a little pessimistic on the travel therapy market going into the second half of 2022. Inflation was running rampant (especially short term housing prices), travel pay packages seemed to have peaked, hundreds of new therapists had entered the market chasing higher pay, and job numbers were starting to level off. It seemed like we were in for a reversion to the mean of some sort. Fortunately I was wrong, and the market stayed very hot throughout the entire year. At this point, my opinion has changed and I’m more optimistic.

Bill rates are remaining high; the exuberance around increasing contract pay rates has declined somewhat, meaning less permanent therapists quitting to travel; inflation has slowed down; and open job numbers are staying strong. It seems that this increase in travel therapist demand could be much more long lived than first expected. I now believe that there were so many elective surgeries put on hold during 2020 that it could take another year or more for everything to get caught up and demand for therapists to slow down. And if you take into consideration that some therapists and other healthcare workers left the field after 2020, the higher demand could be ongoing even longer.

All of the companies we work with agree with this sentiment as well. They all expect 2023 to be as good or better than 2022 for travel therapy jobs, and they expect a continued higher baseline for pay packages. Travel companies and recruiters are looking forward to a record breaking year, and so are we!

Should You Jump into Travel Therapy in 2023?

Honestly, there’s never been a better time. The market has been booming for nearly a year and a half now coming off of the massive slowdown in 2020/early 2021, with no signs of letting up. It’s a “traveler’s market” with the supply/demand dynamics in our favor, meaning increased negotiating power for travel therapists.

We helped thousands of therapists get started with travel therapy in 2022 and look forward to helping even more than that in 2023. If you’re reading this and are considering taking the leap into travel therapy, but not sure where to start, our Free Travel Therapy 101 Series is the perfect place to learn the basics.

If you want an in-depth, step by step guide to not only getting started but becoming financially successful as a travel therapist, then Our Comprehensive Online Course is for you.

And of course, finding great recruiters for your situation is vital in having success as a traveler, so fill out our recruiter recommendation form to get connected with a few that will fit your needs. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us! Best of luck with your career goals in 2023!

Jared Casazza

Written by Jared Casazza, PT, DPT – Jared has been a traveling physical therapist since 2015. He has become an expert in the field of travel healthcare through his experience, research, and networking over nearly a decade.

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