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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Becoming a Travelling Occupational Therapist

Published September 29, 2014 8:00 AM by Debra Karplus
It seems that a week does not go by without receiving a phone call from a recruiting company offering me a full time position "in my area".  Many of these jobs are with companies that also employ travelling therapists.  Some of the opportunities that have come my way have been for a travelling OT.

Being a travelling OT sounds like a dream job for a therapist who has some flexibility and mobility.  When I was a young therapist, I don't remember these sorts of jobs; frankly, I have no recollection of contract companies.  I'm not sure when they originally began, but I first heard of them in the late 1980s. In my younger years, the ideal time to become a travelling OT, I was already overwhelmed by life as a wife and mother, and we had a family business to operate.  By the time I was in a place in my life when I could have become a travelling OT, I was probably too set in my ways and also perhaps less adventurous.

Travelling while working is a really wonderful opportunity!

Employers of temporary positions, such as Manpower have been around since the mid-1950s and usually find jobs that are industrial or clerical.  Travelling companies for health professions such as occupation, physical, and speech therapists and other health professionals fill a specific market niche.

I have spoken with therapists who have been travelling OTs and they all claim to have enjoyed the experience.  They like that they are permanent employees who change settings about every thirteen weeks, averaging approximately four placements per year.  Many of the companies ask you to list preferences of where you would like to be, such as urban or rural, specific city such as Seattle, or part of the United States like the Midwest.

Like any other professional full time employment, in addition to a better-than-average salary and possibly a sign-on bonus, travelling OTs can expect to receive an acceptable benefits package.  Count on having medical insurance and a 401K retirement plan.  Additional benefits vary from company to company.

Also, travelling therapists receive other benefits that are unique to the nature of having temporary work placements.  Likely you will be working in a state where you currently do not live and therefore do not have a state professional license.  Expect your travelling therapist employer to reimburse you for getting all additional state licenses.  The paperwork on these is often very simple depending on the state and if it has a reciprocal arrangement with the state where you are currently licensed.

You will also be provided with a comfortable place to live for each placement or a housing allowance.  If you receive the housing allowance and family or friends where you can stay, count that as an additional bonus.  Other expenses you have such as transportation or meals may be reimbursed, too.

If you want to experience more of the US while working and can be mobile, working as a travelling OT may be perfect for you.

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