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Travel Occupational Therapy 2019 Job Trends


(If you’re here for a HOT Travel OT job, scroll down to the bottom!)

Travel occupational therapy. The three words that changed my life forever.

Maybe you are like me and have maps and pictures around your room on all the places you want to see and explore in this life. And you are curious, could becoming a traveling occupational therapist be the path for me?

Maybe you are like almost every occupational therapist coming out of school and you have student loans that are absolutely shocking. And you think, could becoming a traveling occupational therapist be the path for me?  

Or maybe you are burnt out. You’ve been an OT for years and you’ve lost that loving feeling and spark. Maybe you are wondering if a new clinical setting could allow your creativity and flow to return. And you ponder, could becoming a traveling occupational therapist be the path for me?

There are so many (great) reasons to wonder about traveling as an occupational therapist.

And as you contemplate state parks to visit or loans to pay off- it’s also awesome to start looking at the market and the numbers. This industry can change quickly. Where the hot jobs are and what settings are in highest demand for travelers is not the same year to year. As you are deciding where to go next or if you are even ready to take the leap, knowing the market is very important.

In the past, the only way to find out this information was actually calling recruitment companies. Not only is this time consuming, you have to know the right questions to ask and you have to hope the recruiter you got on the phone is telling you the full truth.

But no longer. We are thrilled to have this resource for you so you have a great resource to see what the market looks like for you today. This is a compilation of dozens of agencies, big and small, that shared their data with us so we could create something really special for you- travel occupational therapists!  

And keep on coming back- We will have brand new travel occupational therapy job market stats come out every quarter!


Travel Occupational Therapy Jobs by State Summer 2019

When you start researching or talking to travel therapy companies one thing you will hear is “We staff in all 50 states”.

As you can see, while they might be able to staff in all 50 states hypothetically, that does not mean there are actually openings in all 50 states. This map is a compilation of a large percentage of the travel OT job market. Across all of the USA there are around 142 open travel OT jobs at one time. California is holding the trophy for having the most needs right now and that is a state that stays pretty consistent with having jobs (hint: great state to get a license in!)

TravelOTmap
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What this means for a Travel OT…

It’s still rather cool out there. What was once a hot market is seeing a cool breeze sweep through the Travel Occupational Therapy world. That means significantly less jobs and more competition for each job. It is an extra hard season for new grads to try to be travelers. ☁️

Occupational Therapy Travel Jobs: What Nomadicare Recruiters say…

Select states are strong right now. Being open and flexible is important for OTs! Definitely recommend having at least 2-3 licensures, as markets fluctuate in demand. Being more open on setting is important, too!

[My advice is] Being open to going to where the jobs are at, and if you are not open to that, be open to a variety of settings for a certain state or location area. It's very hard to be picky right now as an OT. Also, be open to getting 1 or 2 licenses in advance (not always, but be open to it as some scenarios it might be our best route). I don't believe in over-licensing, but licensing with a purpose.

It's been on the cooling down stage for the past 9 months. There are limited job opportunities in all states and settings, [I think the market will] stay the same - not sure if it will get worse or better. It’s hard to tell right now.

TBD here – too many OTs graduated into the marketplace in the past 5 years, so jobs are not as plentiful as they were one to two years ago. [Travel OTs] be wide open!

What we heard in Spring 2019…

The [travel occupational therapy] market is much it’s drier than I’ve seen in in 3 years so hopefully it picks up!

[When it comes to how this will unfold over time] I’m really not sure to be honest. I hope it will continue to rebound, but I have a feeling we’ll see it grow until around the end of summer. Then I think it will taper back off some. There just seems to be an over-saturation of travel OTs lately.

Love my OTs, but the market can be tough and the pay rates tougher unless you’re in…you guessed it….California!

Travel Occupational Therapy Job Settings

Travel occupational therapy job setting breakdown

Settings travel OTs are getting their jobs:

68% SNF - Skilled Nursing Facility

15% Hospital

7% Home Health (This setting is expected to grow soon with the medicare changes coming!)

6% Schools

2% Inpatient Rehab

1% Outpatient Rehab

1% Outpatient Clinic

Our tips for travel occupational therapist from Nomadicare…

Let’s go find a sweater…it has really cooled down in here! In our estimates (below), there was a pretty steep downturn of travel occupational therapy job openings at the start of 2019. Why, you ask?

To be honest, no one ever knows for sure.

We will tell you a popular guess right now:

The Medicare payment models will shift in 2019 and a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) will be implemented in many facilities, focusing on success and outcomes. (Read more here: https://qpp.cms.gov/mips/overview.) We are seeing hospitals and facilities being more conservative across the board with hiring travelers due to that change. This is especially seen for SNF settings, which have usually been the large majority of opportunities for Travel Occupational Therapists.

Some of the states showing opportunity for flexible OTs are:

  • California

  • Texas

  • Washington, especially for those with a license there!

  • Southeastern States, such as South Carolina and Georgia

Our advice to our Travel Occupational Therapists:

  1. If you’re in a travel position you like, see if you can extend!

  2. New grads especially have it tough. If you are set on traveling right out of school be extremely flexible on your location and setting. Our suggestion would be not to travel this year as we are seeing new grads in particular struggle to find consistent work.

  3. For all OTs, increase your skills as a clinician with courses and certifications. Expand the settings you work in to make yourself more diverse and desirable to hire.

  4. Gain experience in many different settings. Many people ‘in the know’ are whispering about home health becoming a growing area for jobs! This is a great season to apply to home health jobs and start becoming skilled in that setting.

  5. As the market continues to tighten, try to become more creative for additional work options, such as PRN, tele-therapy, and non-clinical work. I know, not the greatest news, but we got this! The market is always changing and the travel OT market could be heating up again in no time!

Number of reported Travel Occupational Therapy Job Openings Since November 2018

Please remember that we at Nomadicare are basing all statistics and estimates on this page on information provided by our recruiters and partners. It is here to give you our very best estimate on the job market this quarter with information we have in hand.

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