How to Start Your Travel Occupational Therapy Career

Are you an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant looking for a new adventure? Traveling might be the perfect fit for you! Travel occupational therapy jobs are available all over the United States and it’s becoming easier than ever before for OTs and OTAs to travel.

Travel occupational therapy is a growing field that offers many opportunities for those looking for a rewarding career, both professionally and personally. With a new and exciting travel occupational therapy career, you can visit new destinations, meet new people, and make a difference in patients’ lives. You’ll also gain valuable experience by working in different facilities that will help improve your skills and adaptability.

How to Become a Traveler

If you are interested in a travel occupational therapy career, there are a few steps you will need to take before traveling. You will need to have completed your ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy (OT) program or occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program. For OTs, that’s an undergraduate degree in a related field and a master’s degree or a professional doctorate in occupational therapy. OTAs will need an associate’s degree. You will also need to pass the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination in order to practice in the U.S.

Once you’ve gained all the necessary education and passed your exam, you will need to obtain state licensing in the state you wish to practice in. Usually, you will start with your home state. Requirements vary by location, so you will need to consult the state’s regulatory agency to learn more about specific requirements and fees. With an active license in good standing, you can then partner with a healthcare staffing agency and search for travel jobs.

The Best Way to Travel

Licensing can pose a challenge to becoming a travel occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. Every state is different, which means you’ll have to do your research. Since the process varies state by state, it could also take some time to get your license(s). If you’re planning on holding active licenses in multiple states, it can also become expensive quite quickly.

The new Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact has been a game-changer for many therapists and assistants, especially those who want to pursue a travel career. This will simplify the process of traveling to different states to work, as well as make it easier to provide occupational therapy services to patients who need care.

What is the OT Compact?

The Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact, or OT Compact for short, is an interstate agreement between states that allows licensed occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to practice in any member state without needing to hold individual state licenses. The Compact was created to improve access to occupational therapy services and to simplify the licensure process for occupational therapy providers.

Currently 22 states have enacted legislation, and more states are expected to join in the future. The Compact is overseen by the Occupational Therapy Compact Commission, which is responsible for issuing and renewing licenses, as well as regulating the practice of occupational therapy providers in participating states. It’s a joint initiative of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and NBCOT. As of August 2022, privileges to practice are expected to be available in late 2023 or early 2024.

As of this time, Compact states include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. You can check the OT Compact Map for the most up to date information on each state.

If you are an occupational therapist or assistant who is licensed in a Compact state, you will be able to practice in all Compact states without having to obtain a new license. The main caveat is that your home state will need to be a part of the Compact as well, so expanding member states will be important in the future. This will simplify the process of traveling to different states to work, as well as make it easier to provide occupational therapy services to patients who need care.

Travel Occupational Therapy Jobs

Travel occupational therapists and assistants work with people of all ages and abilities in a variety of settings and specialties. Travelers can work in a variety of settings like hospitals, rehabilitation, outpatient care, nursing homes, home health, and schools. No matter where they work, travel OTs and OTAs provide vital services to their patients.

One of the main differences between a travel job and a traditional position is that traveling is on a short-term contract basis. The length of contracts can vary but usually last from a few weeks to a few months. Travel jobs are also usually employed through an agency that specializes in healthcare staffing. Through a recruiter, OTs and OTAs can find travel assignments as well as have their compliance, benefits, and payroll managed through their staffing agency.

If you’re thinking about becoming an occupational therapist, or are already an OT, consider the benefits of travel. It could be just what you need to take your career to the next level. Supplemental Health Care has an Allied Health division dedicated to local and travel occupational therapy jobs. Check out our job portal to see what OT and OTA positions are available now or contact our recruiting team to learn more about traveling.