Step by Step Guide To Becoming A Traveling Therapist

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Today’s article comes from Emma Shapiro with DebtFreePT.

Once you know traveling healthcare is the right career path for you, here are the next steps to follow. In this blog post, I will go over each of these steps to help you become a traveler easy and fast!

  1. Research Travel Companies
  2. Secure Your perfect Recruiter
  3. Complete Required Forms:
    • Update resume, cover letter
    • Secure references
    • Make sure PT license and CPR are up to date
    • Perform forms provided by travel company
  4. Finalize Job Search With Recruiter
    • Perform any needed licensure requirements for your future location
  5. Send Out Your Information To Facilities
  6. Interview For Positions
  7. Get Contacted By Your Recruiter
  8. Negotiate And Confirm Contract
  9. Start Working
  10. Re-Signing Or Changing Contract


Step 1: Research Travel Companies

Before beginning a traveling career, you want to be sure that you are working for a reputable traveling company. There are many different traveling healthcare companies-many of which offer slightly different advantages and disadvantages.  The key is that you make sure you choose a travel company that can meet your needs!

So how do you make sure you have the best company? Here are some key questions:

  1. Company Characteristics 
  • What makes your company different than all the others?
  • What special perks does your company provide?
  • How big is the company?

★Bigger companies may have more positions and more resources

  1. Benefits
  • Do you provide basic benefits including: professional liability, medical, vision, dental, disability, workers compensation, 401K?
  • Is there a CEU or Tuition reimbursement program?
  • Are there bonuses, incentive programs offered?
  • Is there relocation and license reimbursement?
  1. How Will The Company Work With Me?
  • What are the typical salary ranges?
  • Are there housing programs and assistance offered?
  • Hours of communication: 24/7?



Step 2: Secure Your Perfect Recruiter

Now that you have chosen your traveling healthcare company, you want to contact them to get a recruiter. This is easily achieved by going to the company website and calling the company. You can also request information online and a recruiter will get in touch with you either by phone or email. Note that certain recruiters specialize in different areas of the country, so knowing a state or city in which you want to work may help them forward you to the right recruiting team.

Recruiters are important. They are the people working behind the scenes to lead your job search. Thus, you want a deducted, hardworking, and pro-active recruiter. You also want a recruiter who is honest and is working towards your best interest.

Note that at any time, you can always change recruiter. If you feel that your recruiter is not respectful or not trying to help you find work, then you can simply call the company and ask for different recruiter. All your paper work and information will stay the same so the transition will be very fast and easy.

Choosing a company and recruiter should take no more than 1 week. Don’t stress about little details!



Step 3: Complete Required Forms

Once you finalize your company and recruiter, your recruiter will provide you with a list of basic paper work to begin assisting their job search for you. These forms should take roughly 1-2 days to fill out. Click here to learn more about the requirements for traveling. 

The paper work will usually include the information following:

  • Drug test
  • Blood test
  • Profile information: name, phone number, email, home address
  • Resume
  • Professional references
  • Physical therapy, BLS, and other certifications
  • Employment edibility form (I-9 Form)
  • Legal information: Basic criminal background check
  • Skills checklist
  • Confirmation of position
  • Flu vaccine
  • Direct deposit Form (W-4)
  • Drivers license
  • Computer access form
  • 2 Step TB test
  • Completed physical
  • Taxable housing form



Step 4: Finalize Job Search

Now that you have your company and recruiter, its time to put them to work! In your first or second conversation with your recruiter they will ask you a series of questions to better serve you. These questions are helping your recruiter begin their job search for you.


Key Questions Recruiters Will Ask You To Help Narrow Your Search:

  1. What is your desired location?
  2. What is your desired setting?
  3. What is your experience, how many years have you worked and in what settings?
  4. Where are you licensed as a physical therapist and do you have an active BLS card?
  5. What is your desired pay?



Step 5: Send Out Your Information To Facilities

While you are completing your paperwork and medical tests, your recruiter will be doing a search to find open positions that meets your requests and needs.

Your recruiter will either call or email you with positions that may interest you.


If you like any of the positions you recruiter finds, you can either:

  1. Have your recruiter send your resume to the employer right away
  2. Or you can ask you recruiter to follow up with any big questions you may have like the start date, salary, case load and then you could apply after you get this extra information


Your recruiter will forward the position your resume and skills list so that the facility can make sure you match their needs.

★Note: traveling positions come and go fast. So if your recruiter finds a good job, try to let them know as fast as possible. Once you let recruiter know, it will usually take them 1 day to send out your information and 2-3 days to 1 week for the director or facility to contact you. Even once the facility accepts you, it will usually take 2 weeks for all paperwork and contracts to be completed so know that with each job it will likely take a total of about 3 weeks for you to start working.



Use this list to make sure you get answers to key questions before signing the contract!

    • Flat vs. Hourly Rate?
    • Performance incentives, bonuses?
    • Coverage of moving, traveling costs?
    • Length of contract?
    • Likelihood of re-signing? Becoming permanent?
    • Terms of cancelation, termination
    • Non-compete agreement?
    • Hours expected to work, typical work schedule?
    • Guaranteed hours?
    • Overtime and holiday policy
    • Make up hours?
    • Number and type of patients expected to see daily
    • Description of medical and non medical responsibilities and duties (meetings, procedures, research)
    • Confirm required licenses and certifications (PT license, BLS, additional certifications such as FIM)
    • Malpractice insurance
    • Health/life/disability insurance
    • Vacation, sick leave, maternity leave
    • Pension and profit sharing
    • Continuing education
    • Licenses reimbursement
    • Travel and entertainment expenses






Step 6: Interview For The Position

After your recruiter applies you for a position, it will take several days to a week for a response. If the facility likes your resume and thinks you are a good candidate for the position, then they will contact your recruiter who will then contact you.

The interview is often a 15-20 min phone interview. The interview will consist of questions to help the facility know if you are a good fit but if you think the facility fits your needs.  Below are some sample phone interview questions. Click here to learn how to ACE your interview! 



Step 7: Recruiter Will Contact You Confirming Your Position

If the phone interview goes well, then in several days, your recruiter will contact you with the good news. The next step is for you to confirm acceptance by telling you recruiter you would like to accept the position.

The recruiter will report this to the facility and will forward you any additional paperwork (usually very minimal). It will usually take 2 weeks to process your paperwork before you can start working. To learn how find your perfect travel recruiter click here! 



Step 8:  Negotiate And Confirm Contract

 To learn how to negotiate your contract like a pro click here! 


Step 9:  Start Working

After completing all your paperwork and setting a start date, you will meet at the facility just like any other worker. Some facilities hold employee specific orientations, other have a small packet that you can take the morning to fill out and read. Some facilities will also have you go through a physical or verbal skills checklist for patient care.

During your contract, you should keep touch with recruiter and your recruiter should also be contacting you just to check in and ask any questions that may arise.



Step 10:  Re-Signing Or Changing Contract

As you near the 2-week mark from your contract completion date, your recruiter may ask you if you want to re-sign. If yes, then it’s really easy. Tell them any vacation time you will need during the contract and between contracts. Then just keep working. Your recruiter will draw up a new contract and have you sign it as it gets closer to your completion date.

If the company does not need or want you to return, then at the 2-week or earlier mark, you can start applying for your next position and start the steps over. This process is the same if you do not want to return. It is strongly suggested to give your recruiter as much time as possible to find you a new traveling job if you don’t want to continue at the end of your contract.




These are the 10 steps to becoming and securing your first position as a traveling therapist. You click here to read more on the challenges and advantages of traveling therapy as well as how to use traveling therapy to repay your student loans! 

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