A Comprehensive Guide to Occupational Therapist Travel Jobs: Outlook, Salary, and More

A Comprehensive Guide to Occupational Therapist Travel Jobs: Outlook, Salary, and More

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Share this post

Are you contemplating a career as a travel occupational therapist, or considering adding travel assignments to your existing occupational therapy career? This comprehensive guide will put an insight into what occupational therapist travel jobs involve, the job outlook and salaries for such positions, the roles and duties of certified assistants in the field, and the impact of the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact on travel OT jobs. Join us and veneer into this rewarding and exciting profession!

What Does an Occupational Therapist Travel Job Entail?

Travel occupational therapists, also known as traveling OTs or travel OTs, are licensed occupational therapists who take temporary assignments around the country rather than working for a single healthcare facility long-term. Travel OT jobs allow therapists to gain experience in different settings and locations while enjoying a lucrative salary and benefits.

Instead of being employed directly by a facility, travel OTs typically work for staffing agencies that contract them out to various hospitals, schools, clinics, and nursing homes needing temporary OT staffing. Assignments usually last around 3 months, though they can range from 8 weeks to a year.


Who are Travel Occupational Therapists?

Traveling OTs have the same education and licensing as traditional occupational therapists - they must have a master's degree from an accredited OT program and pass the national board exam to become licensed. However, travel OTs tend to be more adventurous and open to frequent change compared to OTs who work regular full-time jobs.

Travel therapists may be recent OT graduates gaining experience, parents or caregivers wanting schedule flexibility, or seasoned therapists looking to earn a higher salary or experience new locations and facilities. The travel lifestyle allows OTs freedom and variety in their careers.

What does a Travel Occupational Therapy Job involve?

The day-to-day work of a traveling OT is similar to that of a permanent OT staff member. Traveling OTs perform occupational therapy assessments and interventions for clients of all ages and abilities in their temporary work setting. This can include assisting children with disabilities in schools, helping elderly patients recover daily living skills in a nursing facility, or treating injured workers in an outpatient clinic.

However, travel therapists must adapt quickly to new documentation systems, treatment protocols, and workplace cultures with each assignment. Excellent interpersonal skills are essential to integrate into new therapy teams frequently. Traveling OTs also manage their own housing, travel, and expenses associated with assignments in different locations.

What are the Physical Requirements for a Travel OT Job?

Traveling occupational therapists need sufficient mobility and strength to safely demonstrate exercises, assist patients with moving and transfers, and endure prolonged periods of standing and walking required in most OT settings. They must be able to push/pull up to 50 lbs when assisting patients.

Good visual acuity and manual dexterity are required to perform OT evaluations and interventions. Clear communication skills are essential to educate patients and family members. Travel OTs must also have a valid driver's license, reliable transportation, and the ability to navigate new locations independently.

How Does the Occupational Therapist Travel Job Outlook and Salary Compare?

What is the Job Outlook for an Occupational Therapist Travel Job?

The job outlook for travel occupational therapists is very strong. Occupational therapy is an in-demand field, with the number of OT jobs projected to grow 16% from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Traveling OT positions are abundant and offer unmatched flexibility.

There is high demand from healthcare facilities and schools to fill temporary OT staffing needs. Traveling provides work opportunities not available to therapists restricted to one geographic area. As baby boomers age and healthcare expands, demand and opportunities for travel OTs will continue increasing nationwide.

Understanding the Salary of a Travel Occupational Therapist

One of the biggest appeals of travel OT jobs is the high earning potential. Traveling therapists typically earn $50-100+/hour depending on experience and location. Most assignments also include stipends for housing, travel, and meals along with benefits like health insurance and retirement plans.

The average annual salary for a travel OT ranges from $75,000-120,000+, allowing seasoned therapists to earn over six figures while enjoying an adventurous lifestyle. Travel OTs have more control over their schedules and earnings compared to permanent staff OTs.

How does the Salary and Outlook of OT Travel Jobs compare to Traditional Occupational Therapy Roles?

Overall, travel occupational therapy positions offer higher pay, greater flexibility, and more abundant job opportunities compared to traditional facility-based OT roles. The national average salary for permanent full-time OTs is $87,480 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While the job outlook for all OTs is strong, travel therapists have the advantage of broader geographic options and shorter-term commitments. The travel OT lifestyle also allows more control over one's schedule and career. However, travel jobs may not suit Therapists wanting location stability or facility seniority.

In summary, therapists seeking adventure, flexibility and higher earnings may thrive in travel OT work. But permanent OT roles allow the establish

The Importance of Certification: Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant VS Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

Proper certification is crucial for occupational therapy assistants and aides. There are two main certification paths - Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). While the titles sound similar, there are important distinctions between the two.

What are the roles and duties of a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant?

A Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) works directly under the supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist (OT). The COTA carries out the OT's treatment plans and programs, while providing direct patient care. Typical duties of a COTA include:

  • Helping patients perform activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing, eating, etc.
  • Assisting with therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, and use of adaptive equipment
  • Educating patients and families on home programs and strategies
  • Documenting patient progress, treatment outcomes, and recommendations
  • Modifying treatment plans as needed under OT supervision
  • Collaborating with OTs, physical therapists, speech therapists, nurses, and physicians as part of a rehabilitation team

COTAs must graduate from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program, pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), and meet state licensure requirements.

How does a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant fit into Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy aims to help people regain independence and function in all facets of life. While occupational therapists (OTs) assess patients, develop treatment plans, and oversee outcomes - COTAs play a critical hands-on role in implementing the prescribed interventions. The OT provides direction and supervision, but the COTA works directly with patients delivering occupational therapy services. This collaborative approach allows the OT to focus on complex cases and evaluations, while the COTA handles routine aspects of treatment. Together, they are able to provide complete occupational therapy to a wider range of patients.

The Differences and Similarities between a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

At first glance, the titles Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) appear almost identical. However, there are some notable differences:

  • A COTA (Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant) works under the supervision of an OT to provide occupational therapy services. They must graduate from an accredited COTA program and pass the NBCOT exam.
  • A COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) works under the supervision of a COTA or OT, mainly providing support services. They are not directly involved in treatment. No formal education or certification is required.

The main similarities are that both roles work in occupational therapy settings under the oversight of OTs. However, the COTA is considered a paraprofessional clinician, while the COTA has no clinical duties. Using the appropriate terminology helps avoid confusion between these two distinct assisting roles.

Understanding the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact and its Impact on Travel Occupational Therapy Jobs

What is the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact (OT Compact)?

The Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact (OT Compact) is an agreement between participating states to allow licensed occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) to practice in other compact member states without needing to obtain additional licenses. Currently, 19 states have enacted OT Compact legislation.

This interstate compact works by establishing a multistate OT/OTA license that allows practitioners to provide telehealth or temporary in-person services across state lines, given they meet uniform licensure requirements. These requirements include: background checks, graduation from an accredited program, passage of the NBCOT exam, and no history of discipline.

How does the OT Compact Impact Travel OT Jobs?

For travel occupational therapists, the OT Compact significantly expands job opportunities by removing some of the barriers with multi-state licensing. Without the compact, traveling OTs would need to obtain a full license in each state they planned to work in - which is burdensome and costly.

With the compact, OTs only need their home state license and the multistate compact license to unlock work opportunities in all currently participating compact states. This makes short-term and locum tenens assignments more feasible across state lines. The compact also allows easier application of telehealth. Overall, the OT Compact facilitates greater mobility and access for therapists and patients.

The Advantages and Limitations of the OT Compact for Traveling Occupational Therapists


  • Saves time and money by avoiding multiple state license applications
  • Increases number of job opportunities across state lines
  • Allows temporary in-person and telehealth services in participating states
  • Promotes license portability and therapist mobility


  • Still need to register with each state licensing board when practicing there
  • Does not include all states currently (only 19 participating states)
  • Requirements may vary slightly between compact states
  • Cannot practice in non-compact states without separate full license

While the OT Compact has some limitations, it is a major step forward in opening up travel therapy opportunities. As more states join, it will reduce licensing barriers and increase job flexibility.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

mobile phone mockup


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

mobile phone mockup


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

Share this post

View Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

View Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

Apply to Top Jobs in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

mobile phone mockup

Get Started in

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.

Take Control of Your Career with

Search, apply and be the first in line for your dream job today.