Have you ever wondered about travel therapy recruiter pay? Recently we’ve gotten more questions about how recruiter pay works and what is an average pay range. Usually these questions come in two different contexts.
The first context is a travel therapist who is concerned that recruiters are incentivized to keep as much money as possible in negotiations for a new travel therapy contract. They believe that their recruiter is purposely trying to pay them less for each job in order to keep a higher margin on a given bill rate. There is a common conception in the travel therapy world that recruiters and companies are always out to get the traveler and low ball them. While this is true sometimes, it is certainly not the case for most of the best recruiters out there as you’ll see below, and we avoid these recruiters and companies at all costs.
The second context is a travel therapist who is sick of working clinically and is considering trying to get a job as a recruiter. They assume that recruiters make as much or more than they do and have an easier job. As you’ll see below, this is rarely the case, but some therapists certainly can earn more when making the transition to this non-clinical role.
Since we’ve interviewed more than 100 recruiters as well as dozens of company owners and managers to find the best travel therapy recruiters and companies to recommend to therapists based on their needs, we’ve gotten a lot of insight on all things related to travel therapy recruiter pay.
How Secure is a Travel Therapy Recruiter Job?
Recruitment is a competitive industry. We’ve seen many dozen recruiters come and go over the last few years. Travel therapy staffing companies are always on the lookout for talented new recruiters and now that many jobs are remote, they’re getting more applicants than ever. Some of the best and most tenured recruiters have very secure jobs; whereas, for new recruiters, it’s a tough sink or swim environment that doesn’t fit most people.
At its core, travel therapy recruitment is a combination of a sales and customer service/relationship business. Being able to sell a therapist on a particular job is important, but establishing long term relationships and trust is even more important for overall recruiter success. The relationship aspect of the job is where we’ve seen most of the unsuccessful recruiters eventually fail. Some travel therapists want a more transactional experience when working with a recruiter, but that isn’t the majority. Most travel therapists value having a strong and consistent relationship with recruiters whom they can trust.
How Much Do Travel Therapy Recruiters Make?
As you can imagine, this varies by a very large amount depending on the skill of the recruiter as well as on how their company structures pay. On the low end, recruiters are earning in the $40,000-$50,000/year range. On the very high end, recruiters can earn multiple 6-figures per year, and in very rare cases even reach close to half a million per year. Those top end numbers are generally only in really good years for the job market though, which ebbs and flows over time.
Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Payscale list the average pay for healthcare recruiters in the $50,000-$70,000/year range. In our experience, this is a little low with the average travel therapy recruiter pay that we’ve seen actually pretty comparable to pay that a therapist would make at a permanent job, in the $70,000-$80,000/year range.
While this is really good pay for a job that doesn’t require a graduate school degree, the job demands are much different than that of a therapist, so making the decision to go from clinical work to a recruiter role should be made with care. It certainly isn’t normal for a recruiter to earn as much as the average travel therapist, especially in their first few years in the industry when they’re learning the ropes and building relationships.
How is Travel Therapy Recruiter Pay Structured?
Every company is different, and there is a lot of variability here. In general though, most companies pay their recruiters a base pay amount, and then pay them a tiered commission based on a combination of number of Travelers on Assignment (TOA) and the average margin they keep for the company on assignments. For example, a recruiter may earn a base pay of $40,000/year and then earn commissions something like this. 1-5 TOA: 10% of margin, 6-20 TOA: 15% of margin, 21+ TOA: 20% of margin.
Depending on the company, base pay may either be higher or lower, but the commission structure is inversely related to the base pay. That is, a company with a lower base pay usually has higher commission earning potential, and a company with a high base pay usually has a lower commission earning potential.
There are pros and cons of each depending on the individual recruiter. For a top producer, a low base pay and high commission potential is preferred, whereas for a less productive recruiter, they come out ahead with a higher base pay. For a new recruiter, the safety of a higher base pay is often preferable since their commission success is unknown at that time.
There are also companies that pay a base rate and then give the recruiter a flat fee for each new contract they book. In that case, the pay the recruiter receives has nothing to do with TOA or with average margin, although there are certainly standards that must be met to remain employed.
Being a Successful Recruiter
There are some traits that we’ve seen consistently from the top recruiters in the industry. They focus on building relationships over one off transactions (more on this below); they’re great with communication and respond to concerns ASAP; they’re empathetic and can relate to issues that travel therapists face on contracts; and they’re very hard workers. Responding quickly is important to let the traveler know that you’re working on an issue even if you don’t have an answer right away. A little empathy can go a long way toward making the therapist understand that you care how they’re doing. And the top recruiters in the industry work very hard and long hours. All of our top 5 recruiters last year were working 50-60 hours per week or more to stay on top of everything.
Relationships Over Transactions
Like I mentioned above, being a travel therapy recruiter isn’t for everyone, which means that there is a lot of turnover in the industry. Many recruiters are pulled in by the allure of potentially earning a very high income but then find the job is more demanding than they thought. As a travel therapist, this can make finding the right recruiters for you difficult. Many new travelers and recruiters underestimate the impact of building relationships and look at finding contracts through a transactional lens. This is a mistake and why many recruiters don’t make it past the first year in the industry.
For a recruiter, it can be tempting to try to keep higher margins on contracts to make higher commissions while churning and burning therapists, but this doesn’t work long term. Recruiters and companies that use that strategy have trouble retaining travelers over the long term, especially now with so much pay comparison between travelers on social media. Developing a reputation of paying low in an industry so small makes it hard to be successful. Paying as high as possible and keeping travelers happy is a much better way to keep a travel therapist working with you for years instead of just a contract or two. This continued relationship ultimately means more money for the recruiter and the company in the long run, especially in a world of tiered commission structures based on TOA.
Travel Therapist Relationship Benefits
For travelers, your relationship with your recruiter is very important because if your recruiters like you, they can go above and beyond to help you and that can be vital in an industry filled with uncertainty. This can be in the form of cold calling facility in competitive locations to drum up contracts for you; reducing margin below normal levels to retain you for your next contract; submitting you to a job over other travelers; or dropping everything to get issues cleared up right away. These are things that just won’t happen if you’re jumping from recruiter to recruiter and company to company each contract, burning bridges along the way. We’ve had candid conversations with enough recruiters now to understand that they’ll always give priority to their loyal travelers and do everything they can to keep them happy.
A good relationship between a traveler and recruiter is mutually beneficial. The recruiter has the comfort of knowing that the traveler won’t just jump ship for an extra $20/week in a competitive job environment and that retaining travelers for many contracts will ultimately make them more money in the long term. The traveler has the comfort of knowing that the recruiter will always quote them the highest possible pay package and have their back when any issues arise with a facility. This is definitely what we’ve grown to value more and more in our relationships with recruiters the longer we’ve traveled.
Travel therapy recruiters can earn a lot of money, but only a small percentage of recruiters will make more than an average travel therapist. Recruiting is a demanding job and the highest earning recruiters often work very long hours. Some therapists successfully make the transition to recruiter, but just as many try and fail because it’s not an easy job and is a completely different skillset.
The best and highest earning recruiters in the industry focus on paying fairly to keep high numbers of travelers on assignment, rather than gouging travelers by keeping the highest possible margin on contracts. The travel therapy world is small, so word gets around, which means the recruiters and companies taking advantage of travelers usually don’t last long.
If you’re a great recruiter reading this and want to work with us, we’d love to have a conversation. We’re constantly adding and subtracting recruiters based on feedback and performance.
If you’re a traveler that wants help finding recruiters you can build a relationship with and count on, fill out our recruiter recommendation form and we’ll set you up with some that will best fit your needs.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know in the comments!
- Why and How to Work with Multiple Travel Therapy Companies and Recruiters
- How Much of the Pay Does the Travel Therapy Company Keep on a Travel Contract?
- Negotiating Pay on a Travel Therapy Contract
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.