Exploring the World as a Travel SLP
Are you someone who thrives on new experiences and loves the idea of working in different locations? If so, becoming a travel speech-language pathologist might be the perfect career path for you. As a travel SLP, you have the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare facilities across the United States, from skilled nursing facilities in Virginia to home health in California. Let me, Julia, a seasoned travel SLP, guide you through the steps to embark on this exciting journey.
Steps to Becoming a Travel SLP
If you’re interested in becoming a travel SLP, here are the essential steps you’ll need to follow:
- Determine if travel is right for you.
- Obtain state licensure.
- Research the industry.
- Connect with recruiters.
- Get credentialed.
- Job search and submission.
- Phone interview.
- Accept or decline positions.
- Onboard with the agency.
- Move to your assignment.
- Start your new job!
- Extend your assignment or travel to a new location.
Let’s delve deeper into each step.
Determine If Being a Travel SLP Is Your Calling
Being a travel SLP is not just a job–it’s a way of life. It’s important to consider whether you’re up for the adventure and can handle new and unpredictable situations. Each assignment brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. Traveling allows you to not only explore different parts of the country but also enhance your clinical skills by collaborating with diverse clinicians.
It’s worth mentioning that as a travel SLP, you’ll work short-term assignments that may last anywhere from 13 weeks to a year. Since these contracts are temporary, there is a possibility of gaps between assignments. Additionally, you’ll be expected to work independently with minimal orientation or supervision. So, take a moment to reflect on your goals, both professionally and personally, and decide if the travel SLP lifestyle aligns with your aspirations.
Caption: Exploring Joshua Tree National Park while on assignment in Indio, CA.
Obtain State Licensure
To work as a travel SLP, you’ll need to obtain state licensure for each state you plan to work in. While an ASHA certification is valuable, it doesn’t grant you unrestricted access to practice across the country. You’ll have to complete individual state applications and, in some cases, provide verification letters from previous states you were licensed in. Keep in mind that the licensure process can be time-consuming, so it’s essential to plan ahead and ensure your licenses are active before applying for travel jobs.
California, in particular, offers vast opportunities for SLPs, with high demand in multiple settings such as schools, SNFs, outpatient clinics, and acute care facilities. If you’re considering licensure in one state, California should be at the top of your list.
Research the Industry
If you’ve found yourself on this blog, you’re already on the path to researching the travel SLP industry. This website is an excellent resource for all experience levels. Additionally, I encourage you to follow my content on Instagram @thetravelingtraveler_ and TikTok @juliakuhnslp for up-to-date information and tips on travel SLP.
For a comprehensive journey into becoming a traveling therapist, I highly recommend enrolling in my premier course, The Guide to Travel Therapy.
Good reads for all travelers:
- How to become a travel therapist
- How to find short-term housing
- Understanding travel therapy pay rates
Attending The Traveler Conference: TravCon is another valuable experience. This annual event in Las Vegas offers education, networking, and a sense of community for traveling healthcare professionals. With over 1700 attendees and esteemed industry speakers, it’s a one-stop shop for all things travel.
Caption: Travelers connected at TravCon.
Connect with Recruiters and Agencies
Working with multiple agencies is common among travel SLPs. You’ll communicate primarily with your assigned recruiter from each agency, who will present you with job opportunities and support you throughout the application, interview, and assignment processes. When choosing an agency, consider factors such as benefits, your rapport with the recruiter, and the availability of jobs in your desired location and setting.
While I cannot broadly recommend an agency, as each individual’s needs and preferences vary, I’m happy to share the recruiters I work with. Fill out this contact form to receive their information.
Get Credentialed with Agencies
Once you’ve selected the agency or agencies you want to work with, it’s time to complete the credentialing process. This process involves gathering the necessary materials for job submission, such as state licenses, ASHA cards, BLS certification, vaccination records, background checks, and professional references. Credentialing can be time-consuming, so it’s advisable to undertake this task when you’re certain about working with an agency.
Travel SLP Job Browsing and Submission
Once you’re credentialed, your agency can submit your profile for job openings. Speed is crucial in the fast-paced travel world, as positions can fill up rapidly. Maintaining regular communication with your recruiter is key during this stage. If you’re interested in a job, your recruiter will provide you with all the important details, including pay rate, anticipated schedule, facility location, and facility name. Be proactive and act quickly with your recruiter to increase your chances of landing your desired assignment.
Travel Therapy Phone Interview
If the facility finds your application appealing, you may be invited for a phone interview with the manager or director of the job. Nail this interview, as it’s your opportunity to make a positive impression and showcase your suitability for the position. It’s also your chance to ask questions and learn more about the facility. In most cases, a job offer will be extended during the phone interview. If not, don’t hesitate to inquire about the next steps.
Accept or Decline an Offer
Upon receiving a job offer during the phone interview, promptly inform your recruiter of your decision. You typically have around 24 hours to consider an offer before it may be offered to another candidate. However, open communication with your recruiter is essential, and they can often accommodate more time if needed. Remember, accepting an offer verbally or in writing initiates your contract, so be sure of your decision before moving forward. Review the contract thoroughly to ensure all details align with your expectations.
Onboard with the Agency and Facility
Once you’ve accepted a travel SLP position, you’ll need to complete the onboarding requirements for both your agency and the facility. This may include drug screenings, TB tests, vaccinations, physicals, online competency modules, and background checks. Timeliness is crucial during this phase, as there’s often a whirlwind of tasks to complete before your assignment begins.
Start Your Job as a Travel SLP!
After overcoming multiple steps and challenges, you’re finally ready to start your new job as a travel SLP. Relocate to your assigned location, immerse yourself in the community, and embrace this exciting opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Extend or Travel
As your current assignment nears its end, you’ll have decisions to make. You can choose to extend your current contract if offered, granting you more time in the same location. Alternatively, you can explore new job opportunities in different settings or locations. Embrace the freedom and flexibility that life as a travel SLP offers.
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