If you are considering hitting the road to work as a travel occupational therapist, you have several options. Before accepting an assignment, you want to make sure it appears to be a good fit.
What makes an assignment a good fit may be different for everyone. For example, if you have been working as an OT in a hospital, you may be comfortable in this type of setting and want a travel assignment in a similar environment. But some people prefer to shake things up and look for a travel job with new challenges. Maybe you want to work in a different setting or with a population you have not worked with before.
Although many occupational therapy jobs are with the geriatric population, there are other jobs working with children, or you can specialize and work with people with sports injuries or mental health issues.
Most travel OT assignments are in acute care hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, clinics and outpatient centers. A small number of assignments may also be found in schools or mental health agencies. Keep in mind that it may be interesting to try a different work setting. Since most OT travel assignments are only 13 weeks, even if you don’t love it, it won’t last too long.
When it comes to salary, according to research from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, where an occupational therapist practices often plays a large part in their earnings. For example, OTs working in home health or skilled nursing homes often made more than other settings. Therapists who worked in schools tended to make the least.
But regardless of what setting you prefer, the good news is, traveling occupational therapists tend to make about 15% more than OTs in permanent jobs. In addition to salary, travel therapist jobs often offer housing, health insurance, mileage reimbursement, living stipends, and completion bonuses. All of those perks usually add up and mean better overall compensation than permanent jobs. Since staffing agency offers can vary, make sure you thoroughly review your contract and understand everything being offered before signing on the dotted line.
Of course, when it some to working as a travel therapist, location is probably one of your biggest concerns. The desire to travel may be the main reason you want to become a travel OT. Think about location carefully. While you may have an ideal location in mind, ask yourself if there are additional locations you may be open to, and if there are locations you will not consider.
Let your staffing agency know your preferences and in what order they fall. Always be clear when communicating what you are looking for in an OT travel assignment. Whether it involves location, setting, patient population or expected salary, it won’t do any good if you accept something you are not sure about. Once your assignment does start, be sure to maintain good communication with you staffing agency in case any issues come up.