Step by Step Guide to Starting a Travel Therapy Contract

We often get asked “how do I become a traveling therapist?”

The answer can be as simple as finding a travel therapy job listing, applying, accepting the contract, & boom! You’re now a travel therapist.

But of course there are logistics & preparation that go into it as well to help you be successful on your journey as a healthcare traveler. We highly recommend before you plan to begin traveling therapy that you do your research to learn the various ins and outs, know what to look out for and questions to ask, and get yourself prepared before starting!

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Once you get a solid foundation and background to understanding travel therapy, have squared away your tax home situation, have started working with a few great recruiters, and are ready to begin your job search, things can move fast from there!

Here is a Step-by-Step Guide to finding travel therapy jobs and starting a travel therapy contract:

  1. Get licensed in the state or states where you are interested in taking a travel therapy job.
    • It’s best to apply for state licenses in advance before applying for jobs in that state because the licensure process can take a while.
  2. Have your recruiters start searching for jobs for you.
  3. Get your application submitted for one or more jobs.
    • When working with multiple recruiters, make sure not to get “double submitted” for the same job by different recruiters. You only want your application submitted by one recruiter to each job.
  4. Have phone interviews with the facilities.
  5. Negotiate the terms of your contract including pay, time off, etc.
    • You should already know at least a ballpark figure for the pay and other terms of the contract before interviewing, but now is the time to ensure everything meets your expectation and discuss/negotiate with your recruiter.
  6. Verbally accept the contract, then sign the written contract
    • It’s typical to verbally accept the contract before signing the written contract, but you should have been emailed the key terms of the contract before verbally accepting (such as pay, cancellation clause, dates, etc).
  7. Search for & secure housing
    • Typically you will secure housing in advance before you move to your assignment, although some travelers wait until they arrive.
  8. Complete your credentialing requirements for the travel agency/facility
    • The staffing company will provide you with a list of credentialing requirements, which can sometimes be extensive. This may include drug screen, background check, physical exam, vaccination/health records, CPR certification, licensure, and filling out a lot of other paperwork needed by the facility.
  9. Pack & move to your new location
    • Packing & moving will vary depending on the distance from home, weather in the new location, etc. But overall it’s best to learn to be a minimalist when it comes to moving to travel assignments!
  10. Start your new travel therapy job!
    • You’ll receive first day instructions from your recruiter. Each job is going to vary depending what they need you to do your first day/first week. Some contracts will have more orientation/ramp up time, while others you may start seeing patients your first day.

There is a lot that goes into being a successful healthcare traveler and having a good experience. You will learn a lot along the way, and inevitably make some mistakes too.

If you’d like our help feeling more prepared to begin your travel therapy journey, avoiding learning some things “the hard way,” and becoming a successful travel therapist, consider enrolling in our Comprehensive Travel Therapy Course. We’ve compiled all of our knowledge from 6+ years as travel therapists and mentors to teach you everything you need to know to be a successful travel therapist: from getting started, to navigating issues during your contract, planning future contracts, managing your finances, and much more.

You can preview the full course content here to see if the course might be right for you. And if you want to save on the course, you can use the discount code “Travel” for $150 off the regular price.

Best of luck as you plan to begin your travel therapy career! Message us with any questions, or if you’d like to get connected with some of our recommended recruiters — we are happy to help!

Whitney Eakin headshot
Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC. Whitney has been a Traveling Physical Therapist since 2015 & has mentored and educated thousands of current & future travelers over the years.