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New Grad R&R: Reasonable & Realistic Expectations for the New Grad PTA & COTA Part 3

In the first article of this three part blog series, we looked at reasonable and realistic expectations for the new grad traveler, however, does this change for the new grad PTA & COTA? What should assistants know before beginning their journey as travel therapists? Below are tips and advice from “new grad approved” recruiters.

1. Are the number of opportunities equal for PTAs & COTAs as there are PTs and OTs?

One of the common themes that arose again and again during recruiter interviews was that the market for PTs, OTs, and SLPs is very strong. Unfortunately, this is not the case for PTAs and COTAs currently. There are far less jobs for assistants and therefore, they are very competitive. To put this in perspective, a few recruiters shared that there are 10x more jobs for PTs and OTs than there are for PTAs and COTAs. What does this mean if you’re a new grad PTA or COTA, flexibility is a virtue! The more flexible you can be with pay, setting, and location, the more likely you are to secure a travel assignment. If you start making monetary demands, it is likely that you could price yourself out of the market. It is also important to know that some agencies will not place new grad PTAs and COTAs, so it is important to do your research and work with 2-3 companies that will place a new grad PTA or COTA.

2. Does level of experience play any role in securing travel assignments?

Experience can have some influence when it comes to being offered an interview for a travel assignment, however, it is still very competitive. The more experience you have, the easier it can become to get an interview. A common consensus was that facilities looking to hire travel PTAs and COTAs are looking for the best bang for their buck. Of course experience is a plus, but only at the right price.

3. Are certain parts of the country better for assistants?

Many recruiters will tell new grad PTAs and COTAs that traveling can definitely be an option, however, flexibility with location is a must. When there are only 40-50 travel COTA jobs nationwide, it is important to be willing to relocate to where the job is available. Many of the PTA and COTA travel assignments are located within Texas and California. This is not to say that they don’t exist anywhere else, but it may be advantageous to start the California and Texas licenses sooner rather than later if you truly want to travel as a new grad PTA or COTA.

4. Does risk of cancellation for PTAs & COTAs differ from PTs and OTs?

This was an easy question for the recruiters…. Risk of cancellation does not differ. It’s important to pay attention to the cancellation clause in your contract. Is it a 14 day or 30 day notice? Are you in a highly desirable area where it will be relatively easy to find a permanent therapist? In this case, you should find housing that is flexible. In the event of maternity and medical leaves, you can feel more secure regardless of how desirable the area may be. It is important to understand the risk of cancellation and have a backup plan in place in the event a cancellation notice is issued.

Thanks for reading! If any questions were left unanswered about reasonable & realistic expectations, feel free to contact me and I can get the answers for you!

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