Congratulations are in order! You are here because you are either about to graduate or you are a new grad; physical therapy degrees are not an easy thing to come by.
Start by giving yourself a much-deserved pat on the back! Then, get ready to dig into the many reasons why a career in travel physical therapy should be at the top of your list of career considerations.
Odds are one of your first questions is, “What is the salary for a physical therapist?” and perhaps, “What are the best traveling physical therapy companies?” We will cover that and so much more in this article.
Read on to find out more about:
- pros and cons of traveling,
- interviewing like a pro,
- the ability to work jobs you love, and
- earning in the six-figure range.
Travel Physical Therapy: The Pros and Cons
Let’s begin with the basics. As with any profession, there are pros and cons, and travel physical therapy is no different!
As you make your way through this article you will see that the pros significantly outweigh the cons. Depending on your needs and wants, there may be few to no cons at all.
We’ll outline the most common of them for you here:
When most people talk about work/life balance, they are restricted to weekends and a week-long vacation once (maybe twice) a year. As a travel physical therapist, your work/life balance is much more enticing.
In most cases, you’ll spend 13 weeks on assignment and then take two weeks off. If you do the math, that equates to about 6 weeks of vacation a YEAR. Not to mention your nights and weekends spent living it up in new and exciting places around the country.
Maybe you take an assignment in a major city full of incredible food, culture, and nightlife like New York City or Miami.
Maybe you head to a quiet coastal town and spend your weekends on a beach relaxing with a new book.
Or maybe you’re a huge sports fan and you take assignments in major sporting cities! You don’t have to choose – you can do it all.
This comes as no surprise, but PT jobs are incredibly high in demand right now. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that 71,800 new Physical Therapist (PT) jobs would be created by 2024.
And guess what?
Traveling PTs are in even higher demand.
PT is one of the most highly sought after travel positions by hospitals and outpatient facilities across the country. This means you are in a prime position to out earn almost every other medical speciality if you choose to travel.
Speaking out out-earning, it’s pretty cut and dry when it comes to making the big bucks as a physical therapist: hit the road. With baby boomers aging and snow birds flocking to southern states in the winter, the demand for PTs really does move around the country depending on the season. You can earn the highest paying assignments by following the patients.
Variety of Environments
Following the patients is a great way to guarantee money, but high paying travel jobs can be found in any city imaginable. The most obvious perk of travel physical therapy is the fact that you get to explore every corner of this country.
There’s something to be said about the many benefits of traveling. Even if you have already traveled quite a bit, the fact is there are many proven perks to changing up your environment and exploring new things.
Some of our favorite benefits include learning more about yourself, uncovering the similarities and differences between cultures, expanding your culinary horizons and honing your ability to make new friends.
Vast Medical Knowledge
After earning your degree, you know just how much medical knowledge a PT must have to effectively perform your responsibilities. You wouldn’t have selected this career if you weren’t deeply interested in the human body and ways to promote wellness.
A notable perk of travel is just how sharp your skills will get. When you’re always on the go, you will inevitably stay ahead of the curve. This occurs because you’re working with a variety of professionals in a multitude of settings. Put simply, the likelihood of staying on top of new developments and technologies is higher than if you worked in a static position.
Did you know those in a travel profession tend to love theirs more than those in a static position? That’s because traveling PTs never get stuck in a rut. They never have the same day twice. And they definitely never caught up in office drama.
Job satisfaction is at an all-time high thanks to the ability to explore various types of physical therapy as you move from assignment to assignment. As a new grad, physical therapy specialties may seem like a far-off goal. Eventually, you will fall in love with one (or more) specialites, and experiencing them will help you select an area to focus on down the road.
Just like any medical professional, Physical Therapists must obtain a license in each state they want to practice. PTs must renew that license every two years; this can become slightly tedious for traveling professionals. The good news is, your staffing agency is always happy to help you with any licensing needs as they bring you new assignments. Oftentimes they can direct you to the necessary CEUs and handle a certain amount of the paperwork on your behalf.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but there’s no sugar coating the fact that travel professionals can miss their friends. If you went to college in the same area as you grew up, traveling out of state for the first time also means you will be missing your family.
Having just graduated, you likely have a core group of college friends to lean on. Choosing to become a travel PT does mean you will miss people while on assignment, but it also means you’ll add a bunch of new friends to that core group!
As a travel physical therapist, you won’t be able to accumulate those yearly pay raises that often come with a salaried position. While this can be seen as a con, it may actually transition into a pro when you consider this:
As you travel and gain more experience, you will be eligible for even higher paying assignments. You’ll get more detail on this a bit later in this article, but just know you will already be making more than the average salaried PT when you choose a travel position. All in all, we can guarantee you won’t be missing those incremental bumps.
Again, this may not be a con in your book. If traveling the country on someone else’s dime sounds good to you, then packing up the essentials and hitting the road is no big deal. In fact, you are probably ready to start packing your bags now! However, if you aren’t a huge fan of traveling, having to move from place to place three to four times a year can feel like a con.
Now that you have a clear understanding of the common pros and cons of new grad travel physical therapy, you have a good idea if this could be right for you!
If you’re ready to pack your bags and hit the road, you will love the next section. It is dedicated to helping you ace your PT interviews so you can snag the perfect assignment.
New Grad Physical Therapy: Interview Tips
If you are a new grad, PT Interviews can seem a bit daunting. The truth is, interviews are a nerve wracking process for anyone at any age – if you aren’t prepared.
Don’t worry, we have some amazing physical therapist resources focused specifically on acing your interview.
Here are a few interview preparation tips we want to share with you to help ease the nerves:
- Research the company.
- Conduct practice interviews.
- Think about describing your strengths and unique skill sets.
- Review common interview questions and prepare your answers.
There’s more to an interview than your answers. Here are some of our favorite resources for interview preparation:
- 7-Step Interview Prep Plan from Princeton University
- The Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Preparation from LiveCareer.com
- How to Prepare for Tough Interview Questions from CIO.com
With a good handle on interviewing, you’re ready to find the perfect job. Let’s learn more about that next.
Finding A Good Physical Therapy Job
While your former classmates are stuck in on the job hunt grind, your decision to travel means you’ll have no trouble at all finding a good physical therapy job.
That’s because for a new grad, travel physical therapy assignments are coordinated through your personal recruiter at a staffing agency.
Your staffing agency works diligently to assist with things like:
- Placing you in the perfect assignments for your career and travel goals
- Negotiating competitive pay
- Finding quality housing
- Saving you time by handling outreach and paperwork preparation
- Reducing stress by ensuring you have consistent job security
There are many recruiters working for many staffing agencies; the key is finding the right support system for your needs. Here are three suggestions you may use to help find the right recruiter for you:
- Interview at least four recruiters before selecting one.
- Be sure to discuss your goals, your desired perks and any deal-breakers.
- Ask about their success rates for PT placements.
As a new grad, it’s common for you to start out with a number of agencies representing your interests. You may find the perfect recruiter for you right away, or you might develop a relationship over time.
Physical Therapist Salary
As a new grad PT salary is top of mind. We have great news! Your earning potential is very, very high. The average PT salary is $86,850 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You actually earn an hourly wage as a traveling PT that is higher than the wages you would in most full-time positions. And because you are paid for actual working hours, you inevitably take home more than salaried employees.
The pay benefits don’t stop there. There is an abundance of tax breaks to enjoy when you are in a travel position. The two main perks relate to your travel expenses and your professional expenses. You can deduct seemingly endless costs from your taxes meaning you get a huge refund every year.
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Here are just a few of the travel expenses you can deduct:
- Airline and public transit costs
- Rental car fees
- Meals (and tips)
And here is a quick look at some of the professional expenses you can deduct:
- Uniforms (plus laundry costs)
- Phone bills
- Internet and computer related expenses
- Licensing and CEUs (in most cases)
In most cases as a new grad, physical therapy travel assignments won’t tip you into the six-figures right away, but it won’t take long!
With the right assignments and smart expensing, you will be counting those zeroes in no time at all. And best of all, you’ll be seeing the country for free!
When it comes down to it, the title of this article sums it right up: Your travel adventure awaits!
You now know the pros heavily outweigh the cons, plus you learned:
- Interview tips for new grads
- How to find the best physical therapy jobs
- All about new grad PT salary details
If traveling has always been something you enjoy, it’s easy to see why taking a travel physical therapy position might be right for you.
What are your best new grad physical therapy tips?
Share with us in the comments below!