Finding jobs as a travel therapist can be very easy or very difficult depending on what you’re looking for specifically. The number of travel therapy jobs available to you at any given time will vary significantly depending on the setting and location in which you desire to work, as well as your therapy discipline.
Some states consistently have more jobs, like California, while other states rarely have any travel therapy jobs at all, like Utah. Some settings usually have more jobs across the country, like home health and skilled nursing, whereas some settings generally have fewer jobs, like inpatient rehab and outpatient pediatrics. Along the same lines, evaluating therapists (PT, OT, SLP) typically have many more job possibilities than assistants (PTA, COTA, SLPA). For this reason, a travel PT looking for a home health job in California is going to have a much different experience finding a well fitting travel therapy position than a COTA looking for a pediatric job in Utah. The PT will likely have 50+ travel job options to choose from, whereas the COTA may not have any options at all with that search criteria.
When looking for travel therapy jobs, it’s often very important to be flexible on either the setting where you want to work or the location you want to go, but depending on your therapy discipline you may have to be flexible on both setting and location to find consistent work throughout the year as a traveler. Assuming that you’re reasonable in your search criteria (setting, location, pay) finding a travel therapy job that fits you well shouldn’t be an issue.
Where to Look for Travel Therapy Jobs
There are really only a few different ways to find travel therapy jobs, and they each have their pros and cons.
Travel Company Recruiters
The most common and easiest way to find travel therapy jobs is through a recruiter at a travel company. You’ll give the recruiter information about what you’re looking for, and they will search their database of open positions and give you a list of jobs that may work for you. They may also be able to “cold call” facilities in a particular area to see if they can find a position for you. If what you’re looking for is too specific or unrealistic, then the recruiter can help you to expand the search criteria in a way that still meets your needs. Experienced recruiters are experts in travel therapy jobs and have great insight into how often they see jobs in a particular area or in a specific setting, to know how likely it is for you to find what you’re looking for.
When working with a recruiter to find a job, it’s very important that you have a good recruiter that has your best interest in mind so that you are set up to succeed as a travel therapist. We’ve talked to many travel therapists over the years that had recruiters that pushed them into a travel assignment that didn’t fit them well just so that they could get a job filled instead of waiting for the right fit for the traveler. This is a recipe for disaster. These are often the therapists that have a bad experience and end up quitting travel therapy after a couple of assignments, and subsequently discourage other therapists from trying travel.
If you’d like assistance finding a few recruiters that we trust that will help you find travel jobs, fill out our recruiter recommendations form to give us some information about your specific needs, and we’ll help you get connected.
Another way to find travel therapy jobs is through a job board. A job board is basically a list of open travel jobs across the country. Some job boards include jobs from various different companies, while some are specific to only one company. We created our hot jobs list last year so that the travel therapists who we mentor would have a place to see a sample of the best and highest paying travel jobs open from all of the travel companies that we work closely with. Individual travel companies often have their own job boards only listing their jobs, but keep in mind that any one company won’t have access to all the travel jobs available nationwide, since some travel companies have direct relationships with clinics that other companies may not. In our experience, these direct jobs are often some of the best travel jobs and the majority of our travel assignments have been through direct clients of various travel companies. If you’re looking at just the job board of one company then you’ll be limited in the options you see.
One big downside to finding a travel job through a job board is the lag time involved based on how often the lists are updated. Since travel jobs, especially the desirable ones, can open and close very quickly (sometimes in a matter of hours) it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to keep them up to date on job boards at all times. In addition, even if a job on a job board is open when you see it, it can often be filled with another candidate before you have time to get connected with the travel company and submitted for the job. Job lists can certainly be useful, and we’ve had dozens of people placed in good jobs from our list since we started it, but it’s important to be aware of their limitations.
Calling Clinics Directly
The last option for finding travel jobs is more rare and difficult but can work depending on the situation. Whitney and I as well as other travel therapists that we know have occasionally had success in the past finding our own travel jobs by calling clinics with open permanent positions in the area in which we want to find a travel job. Websites like Indeed are often filled with hospitals and clinics looking for permanent therapy staff. In some cases, once they’ve been unsuccessful in finding permanent staff, they’re willing to take a travel therapist but just haven’t gotten around to contracting travel companies to advertise the job yet.
If there’s a very specific area you want to go to, and it doesn’t appear that there are any travel jobs open there based on the recruiters you’ve talked to and the job lists you’ve looked at, then it’s worth looking to see if there are facilities in the area currently hiring that would be willing to have you there as a short term employee. If you do find a job this way, you can take this job to a recruiter that you trust and have them negotiate with the clinic and set up a contract for you. Almost all travel companies will pay you a finder’s fee for bringing a job to them like this which can be a significant amount. You could also choose to take that job directly through the facility without going through a travel company as an independent contractor. While it seems like cutting out the middle man (travel company) would be obvious choice, it can sometimes be more hassle and less financially lucrative than you would imagine.
Depending on your search criteria, finding a travel job can be really easy or very difficult. Certain states, settings, and therapy disciplines have many more job options than others, so it’s important to be realistic in your search criteria to find consistent contracts as a travel therapist. Finding good fitting travel jobs through a trusted recruiter is the most common and reliable way that travelers find work, but job boards and calling clinics directly can also be helpful as long as you understand the limitations involved.
If you’re interested in taking a look at a selection of hot jobs offered by the recruiters we know and trust, check out our Hot Jobs List. And if you’d like to get recommendations for different recruiters who can help you be proactive with your job search before the jobs hit the job boards, fill out our recruiter recommendations form and we will get you connected!
- What are the Highest Paying Travel Therapy Companies?
- Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Your First Travel Therapy Contract!
- Why and How to Work with Multiple Travel Therapy Companies and Recruiters
Written by Jared Casazza, PT, DPT – Jared has been a Travel PT since 2015 and has mentored thousands of current and aspiring travel therapists.