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Many therapists want the flexibility to work short-term contracts but don’t want to travel. In fact, I am actually one of those people. While I cannot see myself ever working a permanent position forever, I can see myself hopping between working a job at home and taking a travel contract. If this sounds like you, you’re in luck. You can work a travel therapy contract at home.
I’ll explain more in this article. But first, let’s do a quick rundown of what travel therapy is.
What is travel therapy?
On this website, when we refer to travel therapy, we are referring to therapists (such as speech, occupational, and physical) taking short-term contracts for work. As the word “travel” suggests, therapists travel away from home to take these contracts. Because they travel away from home for work, the therapists can receive compensation in the form of a taxed hourly rate and an untaxed housing and living stipend. This untaxed stipend covers housing, meals, and incidentals on the road.
Travel therapists are needed to fill desperate staffing needs, quickly! They are also used to cover planned and unplanned medical leaves, seasonal staffing shortages, and regular staffing shortages.
To learn more about travel therapy pay packages check out this article here.
What does a travel therapy contract entail?
Travel therapy contracts are typically 13 weeks for medical and clinical based assignments. School assignments are often the full nine months of the school year. Contracts are signed through staffing agencies who act as the middleman between therapists and facilities who need therapists.
Travel therapists will sign a contract with their agency and then provide staffing to the facility (school, hospital, clinic, SNF, etc.) that needs the staffing. The contracts come with minimal benefits. Typically a travel therapy contract will come with health insurance and maybe an opportunity to contribute to a 401k. They do not have the benefits that permanent therapists are used to such as paid time off, continuing education reimbursement, and others.
Can I take a travel therapy contract at home?
Yes, you can take a travel therapy contract at home. The big difference between taking a travel therapy contract at home and taking one away from home is your pay package.
In a normal travel pay package, you receive reimbursement in the form of a taxed hourly rate and an untaxed housing, meals, and incidental expenses stipend. The untaxed stipend varies based on the location that you are traveling to and can be quite large.
However, as a travel therapist at home, you do not qualify for any untaxed reimbursements because you are not traveling away from home for work. Thus, your entire paycheck will be taxed and you will receive less of a net weekly paycheck than a “true traveler” would for the same position. This is because the true traveler is getting tax-free money to use for housing, meals, etc., and you are not. All of your money is taxed. You have the benefit of not having to pay for duplicate housing for an assignment.
How much money can I expect to make on a local travel therapy contract?
The amount of money you receive will all depend on how much money the facility is paying to have you there, known as the bill rate. The place you work at will determine the bill rate and then that rate gets passed on to your agency. Your agency will take a portion of the rate to cover their expenses and then you will get the rest.
On average, a travel therapy bill rate for speech, occupational, and physical therapists could be anywhere from $62-$90 an hour. An assistant range could be between $55-$65/hour. An agency on average takes a 23% margin for their expenses and profits and a 5% margin to pay your benefits. On top of that, a vendor fee of anywhere between 3-9% might be taken out of your pay.
Thus, a local contract travel therapy pay rate might look something like this:
- Bill rate: $70/hour
- Subtract 23% for agency expenses, 5% for your benefits, and 2% for a vendor fee:
- Hourly rate: $49
- Weekly gross: $1,960
- 24% tax bracket (excluding any state taxes) equals a net take home of: $1,517.94
Benefits of taking a travel therapy contract at home
If you make less money at home you might be wondering why should you or would you take a contract at home. There are actually a lot of benefits to taking a travel therapy contract at home.
Here are a few benefits of taking a travel therapy contract at home:
- Helps to maintain your tax home status since you are living and working at your home
- Can be close to family/friends (great for over the holidays)
- Don’t have to worry about finding housing on assignment
- Good for maintaining your reputation and network of local therapists, if you want to return to home in the future
- Have ties to the local community and you don’t have to feel alone on assignment
- Helps prevent burnout. Yes, travel burnout is a thing and sometimes it is really nice to be able to relax and work at home without thinking about moving.
Cons of a travel therapy contract at home
So what are some of the cons of working at home as a traveling therapist? As mentioned above, money can be a con. You will make less weekly net take home pay working at home. Although, that could work in your favor because you won’t be paying for duplicate housing.
Availability of jobs is the other big con that I consider. When you’re a traveler, you likely have multiple states that you are licensed in and have a wealth of travel therapy jobs that are open to you to apply for.
Looking for a contract at home really limits the availability of jobs that you can apply for, if any. Certain areas of the country just don’t run off of travelers. Places like Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have very limited availability for travel contracts. The chances of you finding a job when you want one or where you want one are few and far between. For some locations, you might be best off finding a PRN job that will hire you to work temporarily to fill in some spaces in your schedule.
You can absolutely take a travel therapy contract at home. Taking a local contract is great to center yourself and reconnect with your home, family, and community. However, contracts might be difficult to find depending on your geographic location. They also won’t have the tax-free benefits of true travel assignments.
And if you need help finding a recruiter to locate your next travel therapy assignment, check out Nomadicare. They are a company dedicated to connecting travelers with vetted recruiters and jobs with transparent pay. You can connect with a recruiter and find a job here.