2016 Travel Therapy Predictions

Cariant Health Partners has been helping physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and assistants find travel therapy work for 14 years. In that time, one constant has been a growing need for travel therapists across every discipline in almost every state. Here’s what you can look forward to this year.

More positions. The supply and demand predictions from the American Physical Therapy Association have been touting an upcoming shortage of physical therapists for a while now. An increasingly popular profession, but schools aren’t graduating enough fresh PTs to match what’s needed with increased demand for services and the number of therapists leaving the field. The growing gap between open positions and available therapists will affect the travel staffing industry as more hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities accept temporary therapy staff.

The increase in available travel positions won’t be specific to PT. Occupational therapists can also expect to see an increased number of options, especially in geriatric settings. For speech pathologists, even with the uptake in teletherapy services, this field continues to trend in the “short supply” space, contributing to more traveler openings. PTA and COTA openings were up in 2015 after a dip, and we expect that trend to continue into the new year.

More travelers. More and more new therapy graduates are looking to travel therapy positions to launch their career. At some of our exclusive locations, we have three or even up to four Cariant travelers working for the same facility–so expect to grow your professional network of travel therapists.

Students are doing their research, interviewing recruiters, and getting a handle on their travel career well before graduation. Introducing new graduates to the world of travel therapy is our specialty, so if you graduate from a therapy program in 2016, give us a call a few months before graduation to prep for a seamless transition from student to travel therapist.

More SNFs. With the aging Baby Boomer population, we continue to see an increase of traveler requests for skilled nursing facilities across the therapy disciplines. Therapists can use their travel assignments to gain experience with different types of skilled facilities, from traditional inpatient with permanent residents to outpatients (not just geriatric) for those SNFs with short-term stay units.

More steps. The licensure process can be sometimes difficult to navigate or test your patience. In addition to your standard paperwork we’ve noticed more states requiring fingerprinting as part of the process. So depending on where you want to go, be prepared to take an extra step to get your fingerprint processed–and then another “fingerprint check” in the future (most states are one year) if you continue to travel within that state. Your recruiter will be familiar with this newer requirement and can provide instructions or walk you through the process.

More of the Midwest. The majority of traveling therapists historically steer clear of the middle of the country (except Texas), but they are wising up to the money-maker that is the Midwest. The lower cost of living in these states contributes to a higher overall take-home pay. Remember, the hardest states to staff full-time positions are likelier to have ASAP travel positions, a low cancellation risk and more opportunities for contract extensions. Think states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Cariant Health Partners is located in Omaha, Nebraska, and we can all attest that the Midwest is a fun place to be year-round!


We predict 2016 will be a great year for traveling therapists. Contact a Cariant recruiter to start traveling now.