Requirements For Traveling Therapists
BECOME A LICENSED THERAPIST
In order to be a traveling physical therapist, you foremost must be a licensed physical therapist. That means you must have passed your graduate physical therapy program and also have passed the NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam) test to officially grant you your physical therapy license. If you are another allied health professional, this is whatever professional licenses you hold.This also means passing the law exam if needed in your state.
★ NOTE: Many traveling companies will help you pay and apply for your physical therapy license.
Many traveling companies have specific staff members that are trained to help provide you with the proper paperwork needed to apply. In addition to guiding you along the application process, many companies reimburse for the costs accrued during the application process (ie. finger prints, background, postage).
However, note that you will only be reimbursed for the state license in which you actually work in during your traveling assignments. For example, if I get my Ohio PT license as a traveler but plans change and I instead end up working in Utah, I will not receive any reimbursement for Ohio but I would be reimbursed for any expenses required to receive my Utah license.
Before I became a traveler, I had my California PT license and was working in California. However, when my family needed to move for work to New York, I applied for my New York physical therapy license. My travel company provided me with the links to download my application. On the first pay period as a traveler in New York with the company, I received full reimbursement for my license expenses including fingerprints, notary fees, and postage. Even better, they also paid for my renewal fees!
Maintain Good Standing With Your License
The second requirement is to make sure you keep this license up to date with your continuing education units and other state specific requirements. This includes updating the licensing agency if you change address or change names.
Obtain Or Maintain Your BLS Certification
The third step is a professional license requirement as well as a requirement for basically all physical therapy work settings, which is to have you Basic Life Support For Medical Professionals (BLS) Certification.
Gain At Least 1 Year Of Working Experience (Flexible Requirement)
The fourth, and last, condition for traveling therapy is to have physical therapy work experience. Many companies desire at least one year of PT work experience beyond your internships. However, this is not an absolute rule. Many traveling companies have special programs to help usher new graduates into traveling careers. Many companies also will allow 6 months of work experience instead of one year or will allow internships to count towards this requirement.
In addition, certain facilities utilizing traveling companies will have their own standards. For example, many acute care facilities, due to the frail state of their patients, will often require 2 years of physical therapy experience and will often desire 1-2 years of experience to be in acute care directly. However, even this rule is flexible and will depend upon your tenacity, your overall experience, and the hiring facility’s director.
For example, I didn’t technically meet the facility requirements in my first traveling job. I applied for an acute care position as a traveler in New York. On paper, the facility desired 2 years of experience, and preferably in acute care. I had 1 year of experience and this was working as a full time therapist in a sub acute facility, not an acute care. However, I had also been working that whole year as a per diem acute care therapist. Even though I did not perfectly meet the preferred requirements, I still applied for the position and received a phone interview. The phone interview went well and the next week, I discovered I got the position. So, if there is traveling position that you really want, try to apply anyways! There is no reward without risk!
TRAVEL THERAPY REQUIREMENT CHECKLIST
Licensed professional in any state (Can later apply for specific state license)
Passed state law exam (if required)
Clear background check, up to date continuing education
Current BLS holder
Some prior experience- usually 1 year (flexible requirement)