Traveling therapists trek through the United States for work. They fill short term, temporary assignments between 13 weeks to 9 months. Travelers are used to fill a variety of staffing needs. Such as maternity leaves, seasonal surges in caseload, or chronic staffing shortages to a specific location. Can you take a travel assignment as a speech-language pathology (SLP) assistant? The answer to this one is a resounding YES!
What is a speech-language pathology assistant?
Speech-language pathology assistants are clinicians who work under the supervision of an ASHA-licensed SLP. They provide therapy within their scope of practice following an established treatment plan and objectives which are determined by an evaluating SLP. SLP-A educational and license requirements vary depending on the state you are working in.
Where are traveling SLP-As needed?
Travel SLP-As are primarily used in the school setting. Most of the jobs available are in California, the most popular state for travel positions across all therapy disciplines. If you are considering being a travel SLP-A, you might want to start your job search in April or May. This timing helps you to secure a travel contract in a school district. Also, be aware that as a traveler you have to go where the jobs are. If you are picky about working in a certain location, you might never find a job there. You have to go to where the jobs are and be flexible with your locations.
Where can I find travel SLP-A jobs?
Travel jobs, no matter what your discipline is, are staffed through contracting agencies. These agencies act as a middleman between travelers and open positions, and staff you in jobs. While there are easily 50-100 agencies that staff SLP jobs, the agencies that staff SLP-A jobs are going to be more limited. There are fewer positions available for traveling SLP-As than SLPs.
Because there are fewer SLP-A travel jobs than SLP positions, with fewer agencies, it is a bit harder to find who staffs positions. Generally speaking, agencies who have a lot of school contracts tend to have more SLP-A positions, since most of the jobs are in the schools. MedTravelers, Pioneer, and Sunbelt staffing agencies all advertise SLP-A open positions at the time of writing.
A good way to search for SLP-A travel positions would be to go through a job board. Job boards aggregate jobs from multiple agencies. Nomadicare is a job board that specializes in therapy jobs and they have listings for SLP-A jobs which you can review here.
How do I get paid as a traveling therapist?
Traveling pay is a bit more complicated than working your traditional job. You are a W-2 employee and will receive some benefits (primarily healthcare) through your travel agency. As a traveler, compensation is by an hourly wage; a non-taxable housing, meals, and incidental stipend; and by non-taxable travel reimbursements.
When travelers talk about pay, we talk in terms of a blended rate combining the hourly taxable wage with a weekly non-taxable stipend. To make things even more complicated, we talk about that blended rate in 2 different ways: either a gross (before taxes) rate, or a net (after taxes) take home rate.
Traveler pay also varies by each assignment. Every job you work will set a rate for their position. This is a rate set by facility (usually a school for SLP-As) and the same rate is offered to every candidate. Thus, years of experience do not matter when discussing travel SLP-A rates. However, more years of experience could make you a better job candidate and help you get accepted to a higher paying job requiring somebody with experience.
How much money can I expect to make as a travel SLP-A?
The travel SLP-A rate is most affected by the supply and demand of SLP-As in the market. If facilities are desperate for travelers, they might raise their rates. If there is a large supply of travelers and not a lot of facilities who need them, those facilities might lower their rates because they do not need to have a high rate to attract travelers.
With all of that information, you probably guessed that traveler rates can vary and can be hard to pinpoint an exact rate. At the time of writing this blog, average SLP-A rates for travel were in the neighborhood of $1,400-$1,800 gross (before taxes) pay a week. There were jobs paying lower and higher than that range, but the majority of jobs fell in that pay range. Remember, that weekly rate includes both your hourly wage and a tax-free stipend that you will need to use to pay for housing while on assignment.
Is being a travel SLP-A for me?
Whether or not you want to become a traveling therapist comes down to your personal goals and your why. Travel therapy has many pros and cons, as you can imagine. I invite you to explore this website and learn more about what being a traveler entails and if it’s for you.
Some great places to start:
Blog: How to Become a Travel Therapist