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Travel Therapy Job Market: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One thing you’ll come to appreciate about the great folks at Triage Staffing and myself is that we keep it real. It's our desire to help you by preparing you for the realities of the travel healthcare market--whether the outlook is good, bad, or ugly. So, let’s take a realistic look at the therapy job market.

The Good.

Travel Speech Language Pathologists are in high demand in almost every area of the country right now. Just like Physical Therapists in recent years, SLPs can almost pick and choose where they want to be for a travel assignment. Most of the time, we can deliver—within reason. That said, the jobs are mostly going to be with the adult population within SNFs and hospitals. So, if you are interested in travel, it’s a great plan to get some sort of experience in those settings and specifically with trachs/vents ideally.

Travel Physical Therapists are still in pretty good shape in today’s market. There remains to be hundreds of jobs open across the country on any given day. However, the competition has increased, and the level of jobs have decreased some. For example, popular places such as Oregon and Washington have seen 15-20 submissions to every job that becomes available. What does that mean? It means to be successful obtaining consistent work, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one location or one setting. It’s also worth noting that competition drives down pay. If you won’t take what the facility is offering, they’ll have people who unfortunately will.

On top of that, it has become a little bit more challenging to get a job as a new graduate physical therapist. But, it’s certainly doable with a good deal of flexibility on your part!

The Bad.

Travel Occupational Therapists have taken some lumps over the last year and specifically over the last several months. So much so that many decided to take a full-time job. Unfortunately, the rug has been ripped from underneath OTs in travel therapy, so to speak. However, I don’t want to make it sound like there are zero jobs available. At this point, OTs absolutely need to be open to anything that is available. Have you ever heard a recruiter say, “you need to go where the jobs are?” That’s what you must do as an OT to make travel work.

It has been increasingly difficult for new graduate OTs to find positions at this point. I would say if you are a strong and confident new graduate, a good case can be made for you when we present you to clients. But, again, it’s key to be extremely flexible.

If flexibility is not your thing, travel OT may not be right for you.

The Ugly.

Physical and Occupational Therapy Assistants have seen the worst dip in positions over the past year or two. Most of it has to do with the changes in Medicare billing as well as the drive to simply find therapists do it all instead of hiring a PTA/OTA. Instead of jobs being in the triple digits like therapists, assistant jobs will routinely be closer to 15-20. Truth be told, it’s very difficult for me to suggest travel therapy to any assistant unless you can potentially survive time in between assignments and are incredibly flexible.

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