When I tell people I am a travel PT, I often get a confused looks followed by questions from friends, family, and even other PTs SUCH as: what exactly is traveling PT?” “That’s a thing?”, or my FAVORITE, “Is that like travel nursing, but for PT?” I will explain Travel PT from my point of view.
A travel PT USUALLY signs a contracts that lasts 13-26 weeks (3-6 months), but it could vary because it’s all dependent on what that company needs. So Travel PT is a thing because a company has quick need for a therapist. This could be anything that ranges from a maternity leave, someone unexpectedly quit, an increase in caseload, rural areas where it’s not as “sexy” to live, and sometimes a company has difficulty with staffing for whatever reason.
To be considered travel, you have to be at least 50 miles away from your home- or else it’s just a contract job, which works very similar, except the way yo get paid. I’ll talk about that in a later video.
There are 3 big things you need to think about : LOCATION, SETTING and PAY
FIRST, You need to figure out WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. Well, At least the state, so you can get licensed there. And the good thing is, companies WILL pay for each license that you get. As a disclaimer, I’ve learned the hard way, but it’s more difficult to get jobs in the big glamorous cities because remember most of these jobs are available because there is a need. There simply isn’t a need in a nice city since everyone wants to be there. NOT saying it doesn’t happen, it’s just a little more difficult and may have a lot to do with timing for something to pop up.
Secondly, Figure out what SETTING you want to work in- whether it’s outpatient ortho, inpatient rehab, SNF, home health, peds, acute care or whatever.
And LASTLY, HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WANT TO MAKE. Honestly, this is the last on my list, because MOST travel positions, you are going to make more money anyways since there is a higher need. And in MY OPINION, your primary reason to travel should not be about the money.
Out of these three things, tell your recruiter what’s most important. Are you willing to settle for a setting you don’t like as long as you’re by a beach? Will you take a job anywhere as long as it’s peds? Or you don’t care where you work, just give me the highest paying job you have.
I’ll be honest, you most likely (not saying never) won’t get your dream job, but you are more than likely to get 2 out of the 3 things you ask for. But if you get all three then you’ve hit the lottery- or at least pretty close.
So, that’s my intro on Travel Therapy. It is NOT for everyone. But if it is, you must learn to be very flexible! The good thing is that it’s not permanent, you are only committed to a contract at a time. You can do this for 2,5,10 years, or even just one contract and decide that this is not your lifestyle.
My favorite part of traveling is taking as much time off as I need between contracts to be fully recharged for my next job.
Andrew Tran, PT, DPT