A Quick Guide to Travel PT Practice Owners: Definition, Advantages, & Disadvantages

Travel physical therapy is growing in popularity, and there can be many advantages. Before jumping in, consider our top travel PT pros and cons

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You've heard of individual contract physical therapists and per diem therapists, but have you heard of traveling physical therapists? Believe it or not, physical therapists don't need to be confined to one practice location — they can temporarily venture outside the office to offer traveling PT services.

Interest in travel physical therapy has grown in popularity over recent years, creating vast and exciting opportunities for PT professionals and practice owners. Keep reading to learn more about traveling physical therapists and the advantages and disadvantages of considering your traveling PT options.

What is Travel Physical Therapy?

Travel physical therapy enables PT professionals to work temporary, short-term contracts in various practice locations across the county, and in some cases, across the globe. Physical therapy practices seek traveling therapy services for multiple reasons, including in-house staffing shortages, increased seasonal patient needs, and PT employees who require medical leave.

While specific requests vary from facility to facility, the most prevalent placement settings for traveling PTs include home healthcare, skilled nursing facilities, and outpatient treatment centers. Because of these varying market needs, traveling PT professionals have grown to anticipate enhanced opportunities to expand their skill set while exploring new areas across the globe.

With much faster than average job growth predicted through 2030, significant travel physical therapy opportunities should be expected in the years to come. PT practice owners should also expect that a traveling PT salary will exceed the salary of an established in-house therapist, as employers will need to provide hourly pay along with possible housing and meal stipends.

How Does Travel Physical Therapy Work?

Like contract physical therapists, there are several avenues for PT professionals to become traveling physical therapists and for practices to hire a traveling PT. One method to obtain travel physical therapy work is by working as a travel PT for a single practice. This option is great for therapists seeking a more consistent traveling position, as PTs can work under a solo practice and job contract but still have the opportunity to travel across numerous locations.

The more popular avenue for therapists to become traveling PTs — and for practices to obtain their traveling therapists — is through a travel staffing company. A staffing company will assign a recruiter to assess therapists' skill sets and qualifications and then pair therapists with the most suitable travel contracts. Travel contract lengths vary on a PT business's needs but average between 8 and 13-weeks-long.

The experience with a travel staffing company is slightly different for physical therapy practices. First, a practice owner will provide the staffing company with details and requirements regarding the position they need to be filled. A recruiter will then use this information to connect the practice with a travel physical therapist that best meets their needs and onboard them as quickly as possible.

Travel PT: International Travel Physical Therapy

While navigating it may be trickier, international physical therapy travel is also possible. When looking to venture outside the country, physical therapists must complete a few extra steps to get placed with a global travel PT contract. It may be helpful to discuss international options with a staffing agency or practice group to understand current possibilities.

When contemplating international physical therapy travel, start by understanding the country's visa requirements. Many foreign countries will often require traveling PTs to apply for a working visa and provide the dates and location of the work stay to work for an extended period. Failure to abide by these requirements may result in fines, deportation, and even criminal offenses.

In addition to a working visa, traveling physical therapists will also need to register with the local medical board to perform work in that specific country. As with work visas, review specific board requirements in each travel country to avoid hiccups. Online resources, such as the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities, help connect travel PTs with international PT entities that can best inform these processes.

Traveling PT Advantages & Disadvantages to Weigh

While becoming or hiring a traveling PT may be enticing, it's crucial first to weigh the top advantages and disadvantages to ensure you make the right choice. As every physical therapy practice is unique, travel physical therapy may or may be the best fit for your operations.


Of the numerous advantages that accompany travel physical therapy, the most obvious would be the exciting travel opportunities to come with it. For individual PTs, pursuing a career in travel physical therapy allows you to explore new locations across the country, all while navigating the unique learning experiences that are part of helping patients achieve functional outcomes measures.

According to current data, the yearly average salary for physical therapists in the United States is $95,620 annually. However, according to the APTA, traveling physical therapists can see upwards of 15% and 20% more in yearly salary earnings compared to permanent positions. This comes in part with many housing, licensing, and travel fees being covered by the staffing company or practice alongside other personal expenses such as meals and incidentals being tax deductible.

For both travel PTs and PT practice owners, traveling physical therapy opportunities also offer excellent scheduling flexibility. Those who work independently through a staffing agency can decide to take some time off after completing an assigned work contract. Those who employ traveling PTs can organize scheduling around seasonal or internal staffing needs.


One of the most frustrating aspects that come in part with travel physical therapy is licensing requirements. Because physical therapists need a license for each state they practice in, professionals will be required to complete specific paperwork and fees to practice in another state. Travel PTs may want to consider registering with the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact to reduce or eliminate these steps depending on the travel state.

Likewise, traveling physical therapists and practice owners alike will want to remain mindful of the recruiter relationships they establish. Often, PT professionals will encounter recruiters who provide lowball job offers and poor communication, making it difficult for either party to secure quality contracts. It's essential to nurture quality relationships with multiple recruiters to enhance the caliber of travel physical therapy opportunities.

Lastly, a significant frustration for traveling physical therapists is travel disruptions. From canceled flights to unpredictable family emergencies, traveling physical therapists can be hit with unexpected occurrences delaying them from their PT assignment — and their ability to deal with concerns back home — and impact a PT practice's productivity. Travel can also induce some heavy feelings of loneliness that accompany this professional lifestyle, which is something to consider.

The Bottom Line: Considering Hiring Or Becoming A Traveling Physical Therapist?

Whether you're considering hiring or becoming one, traveling physical therapists are an excellent industry resource. From the ability to diversify your skillset to the opportunity for staff enhancement, a travel physical therapist is an ideal method to venture outside the permanent practice workflow to provide patients with a better quality of life.

Improve your search for traveling professionals using a practice management solution. MWTherapy's practice management solution offers business intelligence capabilities that help practices track and report PT productivity for improved profitability. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn more about how MWTherapy can help boost your practice productivity.

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