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.

International Travel Therapy: Can I Work as a PT/OT/SLP in Australia?

International travel therapy: Can I work as a PT/OT/SLP in Australia?

A question we get often is whether it is possible to work as a travel therapist outside of the United States. Since we are only interested in working as travel physical therapists inside the US, taking traditional US-based travel contracts — (with plenty of international travel for leisure mixed in of course) — this is an area that we know very little about. Luckily, we found a therapist who has worked in Australia for the past several years to shed some light on the process of working as a therapist abroad! Take it away, Tori! 

Guest post written by Tori Frost, SLP

“Can I work as a Travel PT/OT/SLP in Australia?”

It might take some time and research, but it’s definitely possible!

I want to share with you a little about my story, and then help you with some ways that you can also pursue working as a PT, OT, or SLP in Australia or elsewhere abroad.

My Story

I’m an American Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has been working in Australia since 2016. I worked in acute care for a bit over 4 years in Michigan, USA, before coming over to Australia. I actually thought about doing travel therapy in the United States, but ultimately I decided to move to Australia instead. I initially came over here to work as an au pair, and then once I was here, I decided to see if I could practice as an SLP here, because I didn’t want to leave! The rest is history, and I’m still here over 3.5 years later!

The Process for Working in Australia

Although the considerations below would be more specific to Australia, you’d probably have similar things to consider for another country if you are thinking about working internationally.

Things to Consider:

Visas – You will need a visa in order to work abroad. Look into which visas you would be eligible for and which would best suit your needs.

  • Check out the Department of Home Affairs website [immigration and citizenship] for specifics regarding visas [age requirements, etc.] 
  • PTs, OTs, and SLPs are all currently on the Skilled Occupation List, and may be eligible for the following visas:
    • 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)
    • 189 – Skilled Independent (subclass 189) – Points-Tested
    • 190 – Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)407 – Training visa (subclass 407)
    • 485 – Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) – Graduate Work
    • 489 – Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – Family sponsored
    • 489 – Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – State or Territory nominated
    • 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) – Medium Term Stream
    • 187 – Regional Sponsor Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
    • 462 – I also came out initially on a 462 Work and Holiday Visa [although there is an age limit of 30 and generally you can only work up to 6 months with one employer on this visa, which is a one-year visa] 

Certifications – Look into what certifications you need and contact the association directly if you have questions

  • SLPs – Speech Pathology AustraliaMutual Recognition Agreement [MRA] with ASHA – check out the website for specifics regarding applying through the MRA 
  • OTs – Occupation Therapy Council of Australia Limited
  • PTs – Australian Physiotherapy Council Limited 
  • OTs and PTs – you may be required to register with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) 
  • For other countries, you would need to research their specific therapy associations

Job Searching 

  • Word of mouth
  • Internet – Google groups, job search websites [e.g. SEEK, Jora], recruitment agencies, job boards on the association’s website, etc. 
  • Government websites [check each country/state’s individual Government website for positions]
  • As with travel therapy in the US, decide if you want to be in a specific area or if you’re open to working anywhere [some rural and remote jobs may be available] 

Housing and Accommodations

  • There are lots of Facebook groups and websites [e.g. Gumtree,] to search for accommodations and or/flatmates in Australia
  • Rent is generally listed as a price per week
  • Research similar housing sites for other countries

Other Things to Consider

  • Pay – Check out the pay rates, but remember if you’d end up converting it back to USD from the Australian dollar, it will be less
    • I wasn’t living/working in a large city in the US, but I have found that in general, cost of living seems to be higher here in Australia 
  • Transport – depending on where you are/your job, you’ll have to check public transport options or decide if you’d want to get a car [remember: you’ll be driving on the left side of the road in Australia!


Can You Do Short-Term Contracts?

In Australia and abroad, there are not usually your standard 13-week travel therapy gigs as in the US, but there are opportunities to do short-term contracts [although I’m not sure the likelihood of lining them up like you might in the US with the typical 13-week

You would want to look for the word “locum” when searching for positions, which is the term they use often for temporary jobs. That being said, some locum positions might be up to a year if they are needing someone for a longer time [e.g. to cover a maternity leave, which is often a lot longer than in the US]. Locum jobs vary in length, and you might be able to find some short-term ones for a shorter number of weeks.

I have done one locum job here which was offered as a 12-week position. I worked 10 weeks at a hospital that needed someone in acute care [I found this job by word
of mouth through a Speech Pathology Australia branch meeting].

Are There Any “International Travel” Staffing Agencies?

There are lots of recruitment agencies out there if you search, which may recruit for
both temporary or permanent positions abroad. One of my jobs was advertised through a recruitment agency [Sugarman International]. At this position, I worked part-time for a private hospital, although I later was hired on/employed directly by the hospital.

Other recruitment agencies [I have not used any of these for my jobs] include:

  • Aussie Locums
  • Healthcare Australia
  • Global Health Source

There are probably a lot more agencies out there than this, but again, I have not found any jobs through these myself. However if you’re interested in trying to travel for work abroad, they might be worth looking into!

I hope this information helps you as you explore your options regarding working internationally as a PT, OT, or SLP.

Happy Traveling! ~Tori

We would like to thank Tori for sharing her insights regarding working in Australia and abroad as a therapist!

For more information on traveling, working, and living in Australia – please check out Tori’s blog – ‘Speech Down Under’ at