Working Internationally as a Physical Therapist

While we have never worked internationally as physical therapists ourselves, we travel abroad quite often for leisure for several months at a time, so we get a lot of questions about travel therapy contracts in other countries. Our recent travels took us to the beautiful countries of Australia and New Zealand, and we discovered firsthand how amazing they both are. We especially fell in love with New Zealand and now consider it our favorite country in the world of the 40+ we have visited!

We know that many fellow Americans also dream of visiting these beautiful and unique countries, and some even consider moving there temporarily or perhaps long term for work. While we were in New Zealand, we had the opportunity to connect with a physiotherapy company called LigamentNZ that assists PTs and OTs with coming to New Zealand and Australia for locum and permanent jobs. We are excited to share a guest post with you from them about the process for becoming a locum physical therapist (physiotherapist) or occupational therapist in New Zealand or Australia.

Kia Ora & Greetings to all of you from the Southern Hemisphere!

We at LigamentNZ are located in beautiful New Zealand, and this time of year (January) finds us at the start of another beautiful summer. LigamentNZ is a company comprised of physiotherapists and support staff from multiple countries who have joined together to provide an amazing service to the rural communities and locations in both New Zealand and Australia. We have over 100 years of combined total physiotherapy experience, spanning more than 10 countries and counting!

What are Locum Physiotherapists and Working Holidays?

The most important message to receive from this blog post is that this adventure is about you. You are the one that is going to come to this amazing corner of the world, and not only provide exceptional care to the residents and athletes, but also live and explore during your time outside of work. This concept transitions to the term “working holiday” and what it means to us as physiotherapists. This type of experience involves coming to a new part of the world and being paid, while also having the support systems in place to enjoy the exploration and adventures that the country has to offer. If you simply go to a new place to work, it would be just like getting a new job without any of the benefits of exploring or adventure. We would not want that for ourselves, and therefore, do not want it for you.

A locum physiotherapist working with us is one who will travel to different regions in New Zealand and/or Australia, usually for 3 to 6 months at a time to provide care to communities in need. Contract locations vary from the beaches to the rolling hills, and to the mountains and cities in both great nations. A locum physiotherapist is fully supported by their company and provided with all the resources necessary to not only have a successful work experience, but more importantly, have a successful adventure, regardless of their location and the amount of time that they will be there. A locum physiotherapist typically will make a higher hourly rate on their salary than a permanent physiotherapist in Australia or New Zealand, because they are taking on the risk and the burden of short-term contracts and regular relocation events.

What Makes NZ and Australia So Special?

A simple Google search will present with most likely hundreds of thousands of reasons why these two great countries are so special. For most people coming here for a working holiday or to relocate, these countries offer a landscape and a culture that is unmatched in the rest of the world. The resources and opportunities in both countries vary between each other, as well as between the different regions. New Zealand has a lower per capita population than most other developed countries and offers a more nature-oriented experience, especially for outdoor loving individuals. Australia does have some major cities along the coast, but also is complemented by its vast landscape towards the interior and its own unique geographical challenges should one attempt the adventures inland. Both countries complement each other and are easily transited with minimal logistical paperwork involved.

The Foundations and Principals of LigamentNZ

At the heart and soul of LigamentNZ are the principles of Communication and Growth.

We completely and without reservations support all of our locum physiotherapists with their personal and professional growth while they are with us in this part of the world. This is not simply an experience to come and make us, and you, money while you live in a foreign country. This entire adventure and growth process will take place over several months, and even several years for some of you, and will provide you with experiences and insights both professionally, and personally with that will help shape the future of your patient care and personal lives.

It is easy for us to boast about how great we are, but it is better if someone is to come and experience it for themselves. Our website does have some great information, as well as some testimonials from some of our current and former locum adventurers from various countries, which you can read for yourself.

Here are a few highlights of how the locum physiotherapy program works with us here in New Zealand:

Registration process:

After the initial inquiries about what we have to offer are completed, we send a pre-interview form and collect more information prior to a formal meeting. Once the interview has been performed and both the physiotherapist and the company decided this would be a great match for the local communities as well as for the physiotherapist, we will send out a contract. Once the contract is signed, the registration team will take over and assist with the process.

The foundations of registration truly lie in the hands of the individual physiotherapist. The more efficient the physiotherapist is at returning assigned paperwork and components of the registration packet, the faster they will get through the process. We have had several physiotherapists get through this process in a mere few months, and this is something that can be expedited with diligent work.

Timeline for registration and getting to ground:

On average, the registration timeline for most individuals from the United States will be around the 4 to 7 month range from the beginning of the process to receiving the registration. After the registration is received, then the individual applies to get a visa. It is quite quick and painless. Once on a flight and in the country, the locum physiotherapist would go through approximately 7 to 10 days of Jetlag recovery, combined with introduction to the national documentation system, and the actual inner workings of being a physiotherapist in this country. This will take place at the headquarters in Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, NZ. They may also have some outsource work in Wellington or a Northern location, depending on their travel route to their first locum adventure.

Available settings and salary ranges:

LigamentNZ has been working diligently to improve our networks of hospitals and national health registry facilities to support our growing list of private practices in both countries. Primarily the settings for locum physiotherapists will be in the outpatient clinics around the entire country, but hospital work is also available and is fully supported just like the private clinical work.

Our locum physiotherapists will be on a contract that is not performance-based and is simply a flat hourly rate that is comparatively greater than the average hourly rate of a full-time employee in a permanent placement in Australia or New Zealand. The specific rate, of course, will vary on experience in years as well as a CV assessment. Payment bonuses and other concessions may be available based on location of locum contract placement. Pay ranges for locum positions can be viewed on our website on the “Tell Me More” handouts for PT & OT. Keep in mind these rates are listed in New Zealand Dollars for an annual salary.

*Editor’s Note: We at Travel Therapy Mentor often get questions about the pay ranges for working abroad. Please keep in mind that pay rates are lower for physical and occupational therapists in countries outside of the US. You will not make US Travel PT or Travel OT rates working abroad, your rates will likely be similar to or slightly lower as a locum therapist abroad than permanent therapist positions in the US. This is important to note when you begin looking into traveling for work in other countries. You will mainly be doing it for the incredible experiences you can have, and will need to look at it more like a “working holiday” where you have the opportunity to live abroad and earn enough income to pay for your vacation, but not as much as you would make working back in the US.

Support package and contract benefits:

In New Zealand there is a public health system, therefore employee health insurance is not necessary to be provided because it is available for all visa holders and citizens. All locum physiotherapists with LigamentNZ will be provided with a vehicle for their own company and personal use. They will only be responsible for petrol and any moving violations incurred. There are plenty of places to explore on the island and we encourage weekly or monthly adventures with full use of the vehicle. For those taking contracts in Australia, a car will also be provided.

Employer provided housing will always be an option and will always be subsidized for the locum physiotherapist. Their weekly housing payment will never exceed $250NZD for New Zealand placements, and this will not change, should they relocate to a large city or a small rural community. Housing is a challenge in this country and offering something with stability is a unique component of our contract experience. Housing rates may vary for placements in Australia.

Additional supporting benefits in place include extra time off to explore and have adventures in both countries, as well as company provided and financially supported adventures depending on the length of the contract, time the locum has spent in the other country, and other factors based on their performance. We truly want everybody to have an adventure that includes some growth and experiences to their CV from working. People are encouraged to come here with LigamentNZ to work in order to support their adventure lifestyle and not simply come here just to work.

How to Start Your Adventure

Visit our website at to learn more and fill out an interest form to start the pre-interview process today!

There is such a high demand for physiotherapists, and a growing demand for occupational therapists, in both countries that we want to help the local communities and provide growth and adventure experiences for any individuals, couples and families interested in coming to this part of the world.

LigamentNZ offers a support service for working holidays and local experiences that is unmatched around the world.

Contact us, ask more questions through social media, and learn how you can begin your New Zealand and Australia adventures!

We would like to thank LigamentNZ for taking the time to share this information with us about their locum PT/OT program for international therapists interested in working in New Zealand or Australia! If you want to learn more or have any questions about working as a locum or traveling physical therapist or occupational therapist in AUS/NZ, please contact them via their website.

If you have questions about working as a travel therapist in the US, please contact us here at Travel Therapy Mentor. If you’re looking to get started as a US-based travel therapist, we can also help you with recruiter recommendations here.

Please note that while LigamentNZ accepts applicants from various countries for working internationally in Australia and New Zealand, we at Travel Therapy Mentor are only able to assist US citizens looking to take travel therapy contracts in the US. We are not able to offer support to international candidates wanting to work in the US at this time.