A career in occupational therapy allows you to actively change lives. And as a travel occupational therapist (OT) or certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), you can improve the lives of people all across the country. Plus, travel occupational therapist jobs give you the unique opportunity to experience and explore destinations around the U.S. while you’re at it — here are some of the best places for OT travelers.
- New York
- North Carolina
- ✨BONUS✨ The demand for occupational therapy professionals
The 5 Best Locations for Travel Occupational Therapy
If you’re into warm beaches, palm trees, and professional growth as a travel occupational therapist, then head to the West Coast. Between 2018 and 2028, California is expected to see an 18.9% surge in occupational therapist jobs, creating around 2,000 positions throughout the state and regularly coming in at one of the states where OTs are paid most.
There are lots of opportunities for travel occupational therapists in the Sunshine State, which also offers some of the highest average pay rates in the country. Depending on where you take a travel therapist assignment, this may be balanced out by the cost of living and inflation, so make sure you have a handle on other costs as well as your take home pay.
What to do in California
When you check into your temporary housing on the West Coast, see what's near your place (and the facility) and check out these things to do in California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
- Venture through the 17-mile drive. Drive through a spellbinding route that weaves along the scenic stretch of the Monterey Bay. Located in Pebble Beach, this road takes you into the Del Monte Forest, past mansions, and down picturesque beaches and bluffs toward lots of lookout points for a perfect view.
- Visit Yosemite Park. Decorated with granite peaks, magnificent waterfalls, and evergreen landscapes, you can hike, camp, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
- Pick a theme park. Home to Disneyland, SeaWorld, Six Flags, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, and more, California gives you plenty of opportunities for the thrill of a lifetime!
The cost of living in Texas is generally lower than the national average. Depending on where you live and work, you can find areas with a very reasonable standard of living. The median home value in the state is $165,500. This means that when you take travel OT jobs in most areas in Texas, you have a better chance of taking home more at the end of the day.
Texas also offers many traveling occupational therapy professionals a wide range of opportunities for contracts in clinical settings. With numerous metropolitan areas scattered throughout the state, travel medical professionals, whether you're a seasoned traveling therapist or fresh out of OT school, will have plenty of occupational therapist jobs to choose from while living in Texas in both urban and rural settings.
What to do in Texas
- Visit Big Bend National Park and take in the stunning views of the southwestern Texas desert.
- Explore the vibrant culture in Austin by checking out iconic spots like The West End and Sixth Street. There are even guided kayak tours for a different kind of skyline view
- See historic sites of San Antonio like The Alamo and Mission Trail for a peek into the past.
3. New York
New York is an ideal place for occupational therapists due to its diverse and vibrant culture as well as access to top-notch educational institutions and hospitals for career development and further certifications. In addition, since New York is one of the largest states in terms of population, there are plenty of travel occupational therapist jobs available for those with experience as an occupational therapist.
The cost of living in New York State is higher than the national average, but still quite reasonable considering the many economic opportunities available here. The median home value in New York State is $246,400, but can vastly differ when considering New York City and other places upstate.
What to do in New York City
- Walk along the High Line Park in Manhattan and take in the unique view of the city.
- Explore the museums of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, or the Guggenheim to discover hidden pieces of art, architecture, history, and science.
- Spend a day admiring the views at Niagara Falls. (On the U.S. side!)
What to do in New York State
In case you're not looking for the urban NYC experience, here are some additional suggestions for the rest of New York!
- Take a day trip to the Adirondack Mountains and explore the picturesque landscapes.
- Spend a weekend camping at Letchworth State Park, one of New York's most beautiful parks.
- Visit Saratoga Springs and soak up the history of this 19th century spa town.
Indiana's small towns and communities are full of friendly people who embrace a slower pace of life and a balance between professional and personal life that can be quite beneficial for health care professionals (although Indianapolis, pictured above, is still a bustling city if you'd like to speed up the pace). Additionally, Indiana boasts some excellent health care facilities and educational programs that focus on occupational therapy specifically.
Indiana has a low cost of living compared to other states in the US, with a median home value of $150,000, so it's a great place for med travelers to take assignments if you're saving up for a big purchase.
What to do in Indiana
- Explore the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and take in the amazing view of Lake Michigan.
- Visit Indianapolis Motor Speedway and go for a ride around the track.
- Spend a day fishing at Patoka Lake, one of Indiana's most scenic destinations.
5. North Carolina
North Carolina offers traveling therapists plenty to explore and enjoy. From breathtaking mountain views to world-class beaches, outdoor enthusiasts will love what North Carolina has to offer in terms of natural beauty and recreational activities.
The median home value in North Carolina is $169,300, so the cost of living is also relatively low, plus the state offers competitive pay for travel therapists.
What to do in North Carolina
- Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and explore the grounds of this historic house which spans over 8,000 acres and includes ornate architecture, gardens, and a mission of preservation.
- Take a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America's most scenic roads. (Technically, this 469-mile road winds through both North Carolina and Virginia.)
- Visit Chimney Rock State Park and explore its many trails and overlooks
The demand for occupational therapy professionals
As more Americans require personalized healthcare, the job options for both occupational therapists and COTAs are growing much faster than the average rate. Employment of OTs alone is projected to expand 14% by 2030 and open more than 10,000 occupational therapist jobs each year.
And COTA growth is even more impressive. By 2031, it’s estimated the profession will expand by 25%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With this tremendous growth comes over 9,000 COTA job openings through facilities and travel companies every year until then.
If you’re in search of where to take your OT skills, and want the opportunity to work with other medical professionals in dynamic settings, consider some of these highest paying states for a traveling occupational therapist.
Occupational therapists work to give people the power to get back to lives worth living, and a career as a travel OT allows you to be the best OT you can be. As the American population continues to age and more individuals require specific care, the demand for OTs and physical rehabilitation programs will continue to climb.