These days, travel nursing is all the rage. Nurses can use their degree to travel across the U.S., make more money, and experience a wide range of healthcare settings. But what if you’re an allied health professional looking for the same benefits? Enter the field of allied health travel. It functions similarly to travel nursing, with the obvious, yet distinctive difference in job placements.

Who qualifies as an “allied health professional?”

Allied health professionals are healthcare professionals who are distinct from medicine and nursing. There are many different professions that qualify as allied health but here are some of the most common – dental hygienists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, radiographers, diagnostic medical sonographers, medical technologists, and many more.

How exactly do allied health travel jobs work?

In most aspects, allied health travel works just like travel nursing. Allied health travelers fill short-term positions in healthcare facilities across the country. These short-term jobs are available for several reasons — a clinician is out on maternity leave, a sudden need for more experienced professionals, a seasonal population fluctuation in any given town/city, or even a global pandemic.

imaging tech at work on a travel assignmentWhen a healthcare facility needs to fill those short-term positions, they partner with a staffing agency to hire allied health travelers. And because these allied health professionals are employed by a staffing agency and not the healthcare organization itself, they have the freedom and flexibility to choose where they want to work.

How long are travel assignments?

Most assignments are 13 weeks, but you can find contracts anywhere from eight weeks up to nine months. Compared to travel nursing, allied health travel contracts tend to be longer. For example, most travel therapist positions (speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) are either six months or nine months.

How do I become an allied health traveler?

As an allied health professional, you need two things to become an allied health traveler – a license or certification to practice where you’ll be working, and a few years of experience in your field. Some states require up to eight weeks to process a licensure application, so be sure to plan ahead and apply as soon as possible. In addition to obtaining any position or state-specific requirements, most jobs require at least one to two years of experience, although more is preferrable. “I recommend three to five years of experience before taking a travel position because with short-term roles you need to be able to learn a lot and get up to speed in a short amount of time,” says Brendon Porges, recruitment operations manager at Maxim Healthcare Staffing.

How can I make myself more marketable as an allied health traveler?

“In allied health, there are a lot of certifications and different layers and levels within those certifications,” says Porges. “Before you get into the travel field, get as many of those relevant certifications as possible – that will set you up well as a first-time traveler and will make your application shine.” Porges also recommends keeping a list of all equipment and machines you’ve worked with. “Managers and employers want to know you have knowledge of certain types of equipment. It’s crucial to account for that and keep a list.” And finally, use your recruiter as a resource. “Strategize and partner with your recruiter,” says Porges. “Talk with them about your long-term plans too so they can help set you up well for those.”

How much do allied health travel jobs pay?

Since allied health encompasses such a wide variety of jobs, the salary range is quite wide as well. For therapy-based jobs, the average weekly salary is roughly $1,600. But with travel contracts, payment is often spread across hourly rate, housing stipend, etc. Travelers often receive allowances to cover housing, meals and incidentals while on their assignment. This type of pay structure means a higher net income compared to a non-travel allied health professional whose entire income is taxable.

Where is the highest demand for allied health travel jobs?

“The demand for allied health travel professionals is continuing to increase across the board, particularly in the areas of surgical services, radiology/imaging, rehabilitation therapy, respiratory therapy, clinical laboratory, and medical social work/behavioral health” says Porges. “Geographically, our top allied health offices are Pittsburgh, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif., and Oakland, Calif. In addition to those locations, we currently support Allied healthcare clients across the entire country in all markets large or small.”

What are the benefits of becoming an allied health traveler?

In short, more money and more opportunities. “Going into the travel field gives you the opportunity to grow your skills, work at different facilities with different equipment, and work with some of the best professionals in the world,” says Porges. “You learn a lot very quickly as a travel professional, and that’s something you won’t get staying in one place. Travel causes you to grow and fine-tune your skills. What’s more, you can experiment with different types of jobs. It’s a great way to discover where you want to end up permanently.”

Ready to become an allied health traveler? We’re hiring across the country. View our current openings.