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The Outlook for Travel Occupational Therapist Jobs

Where do occupational therapists work on travel assignments? Nearly everywhere.

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Essential members of the healthcare team, occupational therapists (OTs) help patients carry out a variety of daily tasks. With the country’s aging population and increasing numbers of insured patients, the demand for occupational therapist jobs has climbed in recent years, and the number of OT travel jobs has grown exponentially.

Travel Occupational Therapist Jobs

“OTs and PTs are in the highest demand within the allied space,” said Christina Miner, MBA, recruitment director at Med Travelers, an AMN Healthcare company. She estimates more than 500 OT travel jobs are available across the United States.

“It’s an exciting time to enter travel, and seasoned travelers have even more opportunities,” Miner said.

Miner indicated the demand from clients for rehabilitative services has shown no declines. Although some employers may have hesitated to staff up as they watched the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Miner believes many facilities and employers have now adjusted to the changes associated with ACA.

How much do occupational therapists make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the 2012 median salary for an OT is $75,400 per year. Entry-level education is a master’s degree, and all states require licensure. The outlook for occupational therapist jobs is growing at 29 percent, much faster than average.

When it comes to OT travel jobs, Miner estimates the answer to the question “How much do occupational therapists make?” is in the range of $75,000 to $100,000 annually, depending on the locations and types of facilities where a traveler works.

Med Travelers' allied health professionals enjoy competitive pay and a wide variety of benefits including free, private housing; travel reimbursement; 401(k) retirement plan; comprehensive health insurance plans; dental, vision, and life insurance. Additional voluntary benefits such as critical illness, accident insurance, hospital indemnity, and legal services are also available.

Where do occupational therapists work?

Occupational therapists are in high demand wherever rehabilitation takes place, from hospitals and clinics to home health and schools. They are also needed in skilled nursing facilities, among other settings.

“There are opportunities in a variety of settings and locations across the country,” said Miner.

What experience is needed to travel?

The experience required for OT travel jobs varies, with some facilities expecting a seasoned professional while others exhibit a willingness to train recent graduates.

Most employers want experience within the past six months, explained Cory Merck, recruiting consultant at Med Travelers.

Med Travelers services all 50 states and the Virgin Islands. Travel positions typically last 13 weeks, after which the traveler can return home, extend at the same assignment or move on to another assignment.

What about state licensure?

OTs must be licensed in the state services are provided. Some employers will wait while the licensing takes place. However, if an OT knows he or she wants to travel to a specific location, it helps to begin the licensure process for that state as soon as possible, Merck said.

Some states take longer than others to approve the license, but that shouldn’t preclude you from applying and expressing interest in positions. Your recruiter will help walk you through the entire placement process once you submit your application.

Occupational therapist jobs can be found in all 50 states, in rural and metropolitan areas. Locations such as Southern California, Florida and Hawaii tend to be more competitive.

Why do occupational therapists travel?

Like all healthcare professionals, OTs travel for a variety of reasons. Some newer graduates want more experience in a variety of settings or to live in a certain area to see if they like it. As a temporary employee, travel OTs avoid facility politics and the need to serve on committees. Traveling offers opportunities to experience different bosses and learn how certain techniques are used in different locations.

“It’s a ‘try before you buy,’” Miner explained. “And it adds to your adaptability as a professional. It takes you to places you have never been, to experience new things and to meet new people. It allows you to not just visit a place but to become part of it for a segment in time.”


Find more answers to frequently asked questions about allied healthcare travel on our FAQ page, or request a call from a Med Travelers recruiter.

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