Understanding the Bright Future of Physical Therapist Travel Jobs: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the Bright Future of Physical Therapist Travel Jobs: A Comprehensive Guide

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A career in travel physical therapy offers both a rewarding work experience and a chance to explore new places. From understanding the current job outlook and salary trends to the role of allied travel and travel nursing in its growth, this guide is a comprehensive look at what a career as a travel physical therapist entails. We dig deep into the beneficial advanced certifications and clinical skills, as well as the job market and the role major travel therapy companies play in it. Whether you are already a practicing travel physical therapist or considering this career path, this guide will offer invaluable insights.

What is the current job outlook and average salary for a travel physical therapist?

The job outlook for travel physical therapists is very strong right now. With the aging population and increased demand for rehabilitation services, there is a growing need for physical therapists across the country. Travel PT jobs allow therapists to take advantage of high-paying temporary positions in various settings and locations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for physical therapists is projected to grow 21% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. This high growth is partly due to the large baby boomer population staying active later in life. Additionally, advances in technology and medicine are allowing people to live longer, increasing the demand for physical rehabilitation services.

The average salary for a travel physical therapist is quite lucrative. According to data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average base salary for a travel PT in 2022 was $97,700.

Some key factors that influence travel PT salaries include:

  • Experience level - therapists just out of school may start around $75,000 while those with 10+ years can make over $100,000
  • Certifications - extra certifications like manual therapy, pediatric specialization, etc. can boost pay
  • Region - higher salaries are often available in competitive, high-demand regions like the Northeast and West Coast
  • Setting - outpatient ortho, skilled nursing, and hospitals often pay more than other settings
  • Agency stipends - some agencies offer richer stipend/bonus packages

Overall, travel therapists can make 20-50% higher salaries than staff therapists. The freedom to relocate and higher pay make travel PT an appealing career option for many physical therapists.


What is the average base salary for a travel physical therapist?

Here is a breakdown of average travel PT base salaries by setting:

  • Outpatient orthopedic - $85,000
  • Skilled nursing facilities - $84,000
  • Schools - $83,000
  • Home health - $80,000
  • Hospitals - $78,000

New grad and junior therapists may start with base salaries around $75,000 while senior therapists can earn $90,000+. High demand regions like California can also boost base pay. The key is negotiating a favorable base rate before accepting a travel assignment.

How is total cash compensation calculated for travel physical therapists?

For travel PTs, total cash compensation includes the base salary plus any stipends, bonuses, or other incentives offered. The average total compensation for travel PTs in 2022 was $113,000.

Here are some of the most common stipends and bonuses that factor into the total compensation:

  • Housing stipends - averages $1,500 per month to cover housing costs
  • Meal/incidental stipends - averages $500 per month for food and expenses
  • Travel stipends - covers mileage and travel expenses
  • Completion bonuses - rewards for finishing the assignment, often $2,000+
  • Referral bonuses - bringing a friend along, around $500-$1000
  • Certification bonuses - extra pay for specialties like lymphedema, vestibular, etc.

The total value of stipends, bonuses, 401k matching, and other incentives can add $20,000 or more to a travel PT's take-home pay. However, it varies greatly by agency so it is important to compare compensation packages.

What are the current job openings for travel physical therapists?

The demand for travel PTs is booming right now across the country. Some top settings hiring include:

  • Outpatient orthopedic clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Home health agencies
  • School system contracts
  • Inpatient rehabilitation hospitals
  • Pediatric clinics

Leading U.S. regions for travel PT jobs currently include:

  • California - Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego
  • Texas - Dallas, Houston, Austin
  • Florida - Miami, Orlando, Tampa
  • Northeast - New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey
  • Pacific Northwest - Seattle, Portland

Peak seasonal demand times include the summer and holidays when staff vacations occur.

How Do Allied Travel and Travel Nursing Influence the Growth of Travel Physical Therapy?

What is the role of allied travel in the growth of travel physical therapy jobs?

Allied travel refers to temporary healthcare roles like occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social work. The growth of allied travel opportunities has also fueled the expansion of travel PT jobs.

Healthcare settings often hire travel therapists as a team. For example, a SNF contracting for travel PTs may also need OTs, STs, and social workers. Travel agencies can easily staff the whole interdisciplinary team. Being part of an allied travel team helps PTs collaborate and deliver coordinated care.

Allied travel growth also builds awareness of the benefits of hiring temporary therapists. As more settings use travel OTs, for example, they become more open to bringing on travel PTs as well. The rising allied travel trend makes managers more receptive to utilizing travel staff.

How does travel nursing impact travel physical therapy?

The explosive growth of travel nursing has paved the way for the rise of travel physical therapy. The high demand for travel nurses demonstrated the benefits of using temporary healthcare staff.

As travel nursing took off in the 1990s and 2000s, travel therapy soon followed. Healthcare managers realized they could staff PT, OT, and SLP roles temporarily as well. The travel nurse industry established connections with hospitals and facilities that were then leveraged to grow travel therapy roles.

Today, travel nursing and therapy are often marketed together by staffing agencies. Travel nurses can advocate for bringing on travel PTs to help with rehabilitation. The paths of nurses and therapists intertwine throughout healthcare, so the growth in one specialty boosts demand in the other.

Are there specific nursing jobs that can benefit or influence a PT's career path?

Certain nursing roles closely overlap with physical therapy which can inform a PT's career development. Some key examples include:

  • Wound care nursing - valued skillset for PTs working in acute care or SNFs
  • Orthopedic nursing - builds knowledge for outpatient therapy roles
  • Geriatric nursing - helps with specializing in the older adult population
  • Pediatric nursing - great for therapists interested in treating children
  • Case management nursing - develops care coordination abilities

Consider shadowing nurses in these specialties to gain insight. Attend nursing conferences or read nursing publications to stay up to date on healthcare trends. Nurse practitioners can also be an excellent resource for collaboration and professional development.

What Advanced Certifications and Clinical Skills are Beneficial for Travel Physical Therapists?

Travel physical therapists have a unique opportunity to work in a variety of settings and with diverse patient populations. Having advanced clinical certifications and skills can make travel PTs more marketable and enable them to provide high-quality care across settings.

What advanced certifications are recommended for physical therapists in a travel role?

Some of the top certifications for travel PTs include:

  • Board Certification in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (OCS) - beneficial for outpatient orthopedic settings
  • Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) - valued for hand therapy skills
  • Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) - helps with stroke, TBI, and other neurological rehab
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) - useful for sports & amp; exercise rehab settings
  • Certificate in Vestibular Rehabilitation - aids with balance and dizziness treatment
  • Certificate in Lymphedema Management - helps treat lymphedema patients
  • Pelvic Floor Level 1 Certificate - allows treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (COMT) - enhances manual therapy skills

What clinical skills are considered necessary for travel therapists?

In addition to certification, travel PTs need broad-based clinical skills to adapt to diverse settings. Important skills include:

  • Excellent manual therapy skills - for mobilizations, manipulations
  • Strong orthopedic assessment and treatment skills
  • Neuro rehab skills - for stroke, TBI, Parkinson's patients
  • Balance, vestibular, and fall risk assessment
  • Wound care - for pressure ulcers, surgical wounds
  • Therapeutic exercise prescription and programming
  • Patient education - on-the-spot and handouts
  • Use of modalities -Estim, TENS, ultrasound, etc.
  • Communication and teamwork - with other disciplines

Do recent graduates have the necessary clinical skills for travel PT jobs?

Recent PT graduates can find it challenging to have the full skillset needed for travel therapy roles right out of school. Most facilities hiring travel PTs require at least 1 year of experience. New grads would benefit from:

  • Pursuing a mentorship under an experienced PT
  • Gaining exposure to diverse settings during clinical rotations
  • Seeking a full-time role that allows developing skills in key areas like orthopedics, neuro, wound care, vestibular rehab before pursuing travel therapy
  • Obtaining advanced certifications even as a new grad
  • Being open-minded to learning new interventions and skills on the job as a traveler

What is the Travel Therapy Job Market Outlook and What Role do Travel Therapy Companies Play in it?

What is the current travel therapy job market outlook, and how is it expected to change in the coming years?

The travel therapy job market is currently very strong, with high demand that is expected to continue growing over the next 5-10 years due to:

  • Therapist shortages and difficulty filling permanent roles
  • Increased demand with aging population and chronic conditions
  • Desire for temporary replacements during maternity leaves and staff vacations
  • Need for quick staffing solutions during transitions like new facility openings
  • Therapist burnout driving more to seek travel roles

How do travel therapy companies contribute to the travel PT job market?

Travel therapy companies play an integral role in the job market by:

  • Serving as main source of travel PT job listings and recruitment
  • Streamlining processes like pay package negotiation and credentialing
  • Providing support tools like housing assistance, liability insurance, travel reimbursement
  • Offering continuing education and mentorship opportunities
  • Maintaining strong relationships with facilities to understand staffing needs
  • Promoting the benefits of travel therapy to recruit new therapists

What benefits does a travel therapy mentor offer to new travel PTs?

Having an experienced mentor is invaluable for PTs new to travel roles. A mentor can provide guidance on:

  • Selecting optimal travel jobs to gain well-rounded experience
  • Interviewing and negotiating contract terms like pay, housing
  • Preparing and packing efficiently for assignments
  • Adapting to new facilities, EMR systems, documentation
  • Building rapport and credibility with new teams quickly
  • Finding one's niche as a traveler long-term
  • Avoiding common pitfalls like accepting poor contracts or overpacking


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

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

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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.

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