"Get paid to travel? What’s the catch?”
*This is written about how I, Laura, got started as a travel occupational therapist.
But this information is the same for travel nurses, travel radiologists and other traveler therapy specialties!
I was walking down the halls of the AOTA conference.
It was about six little months until I would graduate. I was about to have all those fancy new alphabet letters behind my name and officially be an OTR.
In school, I had learned all about one and two-man transfers, sensory integration, hip replacement protocols and NDT. But there was one thing that seemed to have gotten no airtime: The option of travel therapy as a real career choice.
These were my assumptions at the time:
1. If I traveled, I would have to move to small, boring towns that no one wanted to go to.
2. The places I would have to work must be desperate to need a traveler. They must be really bad not to be able to find someone to work there permanently.
3. I would have no clinical support.
4. I would not have control over where I traveled.
5. Pretty much all I heard was... Don't do it as a new grad.
But here I was, walking down the halls of the AOTA conference and suddenly I find myself in conversation with a booth all about travel therapy.
What the recruitment company said to me felt too good to be true.
1. A lot of the money I would make would be tax-free.
2. They would pay for my travel to get there.
3. They would pay for my housing.
4. They will pay for my license in a new state.
5. I would make 30%-50% more than what I would as staff. (Hello paying off student loans!)
6. I would pick where and when I travel. I could always say no.
7. I can take off as much time as I want, no more thinking in terms of only two-week vacations a year!
8. There are so many travel jobs out there, and lots of them are in destination cities! I could go live in NYC, San Fransisco, Boston, LA and even Hawaii! I would get paid to live in places others save up to go on vacation for.
9. With the right mindset, personality and confidence, I CAN travel (and thrive) as a new grad. And jobs exist that will offer me some mentorship.
I walked away from that booth with my heart beating a bit faster, my head spinning with curiosity and thinking over and over again: "What's the catch??"
Here is the truth.
All of those things the booth said are true. (However, it is missing some very important fine print that I dive into on another blog. So keep reading and learning).
Life did become a bit of a "pinch me! I can't believe I get to do this!" reality.
We really do have the chance to get paid to travel. And it can be great money, and we are always in control of where we go and when we take assignments.
I ended up taking the leap and jumping in as a new grad. Seven years later, I am still traveling. I have the freedom to backpack the world in between assignments, pay off most of my student debt and to dip my toes in almost every setting as an OT. And experiencing new settings lead me to be surprised at clinical areas I ended up having massive passion for that I never thought about!
I've now lived in over 10 states. I've been 15 minutes from Times Square, in the NC mountains as the leaves burst into gorgeous colors and in Berkeley California where not matching is always in style. (and I embraced it fully!)
I've grown into a more well rounded, confident and open-minded person than I would not be had I not traveled. I'm a better OT having seen the way dozens of places manage, treat and care for their patients.
And one thing I know without a doubt: I am so glad I did not write travel therapy off just from what I heard in school.
Turns out, it is so much more than my list assumptions.
Laura & the Nomadicare Team xo
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Recruiter matchmaking is also 100% free for the traveler, and we spend a ton of time and energy finding the very, very best in the industry (and hold them accountable to it! We will have your back!) We also match based on the location and benefits you need. We did all the work for you already! Yeah! And you finding your recruiter through us is how Nomadicare can keep providing free, empowered education to this awesome industry!