Travel Physical Therapist Salary and Financial Strategies

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  • Travel Physical Therapist Salary and Financial Strategies
Author: Joseph Reinke, CFA

Picking a job right out of college is stressful.  Trying to decide the best fit for you and where to live can be crazy.

Being a travel physical therapist has major perks such as seeing different parts of the country. Plus, travel physical therapists salary for a new grad is greater than a typical staff PT job.

The focus of this article is:

  • To provide details on travel physical therapists salary; and
  • What you can strategically do with the salary to put yourself in a great financial situation.

Breaking Down a Travel Physical Therapist Salary

You may be curious about the compensation structure of a travel physical therapists.

For starters, you will receive more take home pay relative to a staff PT.

Take home pay is key.  Being a travel PT means you get a stipend.  Usually it’s half of the salary you’ll get.

For example, your taxable salary might be $45,000.  However, you’ll receive about $45,000 in tax-free stipend as well.

Therefore, your overall compensation plus lower taxes paid increases your take home pay.  I’ll touch on this further in the article.

However, before doing so, I want to deeper dive into the advantages and disadvantages of travel physical therapy.  I don’t want you to simply go into travel because it pays more!

Advantages of Travel Physical Therapy

Let’s start with the advantages.

  • Higher take home pay
  • Exploring options in regards to living and setting
  • Higher salary makes it easier to deal with increased cost of living due to inflation

We’ve already touched on one benefit.  However, I wanted to state it again. Your overall “salary” as a travel physical therapist is higher.

As a traveler, you can expect anywhere from $90,000 to $110,000 a year. We’ve helped thousands of travel physical therapist at FitBUX and the average overall salary we see is $95,000.  This is also the expectation that we hear from travelers when we attend TravCon.

The reason why this is so important is it allows you to establish yourself financial a lot faster than being a staff PT.  We typically see new grads easily using $2k – $4k a month to build investments or pay off debt fast.

For an entry level staff PT job, you can expect anywhere between $58,000 to $95,000 a year.  The average physical therapist salary we see at FitBUX is $78k which is much lower than what the BLS and the APTA states.

Another big benefit, as a traveler you get to explore the country and different employment settings. This is an awesome benefit.

We see so many new grads take a job and get stuck there for 10+ years because they don’t know that there are better opportunities.

Being a travel physical therapists allows you to see how a well ran clinic functions.  Therefore, when you decide to settle down, you’ll know the good from the bad.

Disadvantages of Travel Physical Therapy

Now for the negatives.

  • You will be living a lot more of a nomadic lifestyle. Some people don’t like the “stress” of moving all the time.
  • You’ll be thrown into the fire and need to learn on the spot quickly. Many new grads we work with say they aren’t ready for that.
  • Lastly, it can be a logistical nightmare with living situations. You might have a contract in a city across the country but are still renting an apartment elsewhere. You also have to figure out what you are doing for transportation.
  • There are a myriad of tax laws. Make sure you are doing the right thing.

Student Loan Strategies while being a Travel Physical Therapist

Having a travel physical therapist salary can put you in an awesome financial situation.  For example, it can help you with the biggest cost of PT school, student loans.

Below are two examples.

Paying Off Student Loans

The higher travel physical therapist salary will help you pay off your student loans faster.

I will deep dive into a comparison of numbers with a real example. However, before I do, I’ll touch on loan forgiveness.

Going For Loan Forgiveness

If you are going for loan forgiveness via an income-based repayment plan, a travel physical therapist salary can help you accelerate your overall financial wealth.

First, on these plans, your payments are based on your income.  However, for travel physical therapists the payment is only based on the salary portion not the stipend! This means your monthly payment is only going to be between $50 and $150 a month.

Also, you can save a lot faster because your loan payment is less than a staff PT as well as your tax bill is lower.  Its not uncommon for us to see travel PTs with $100k – $200k saved within 2 – 4 years!

Comparison between Travel Physical Therapist Salary & A Staff PT

I will use our technology to illustrate how beneficial a travel physical therapists salary is.

Specifically, I will be doing 2 separate scenarios for a financial plan.

Here are the specifics for the first scenario:

  • The travel physical therapist is making $45,000 in taxable salary and another $45,000 in stipend.
  • They will be traveling for 2 years before transitioning to a staff PT job and having an income of $70,000.
  • $140,000 in student loans and will be paying them off aggressively.
  • Contributing 3% to retirement.

The specifics for the 2nd scenario are:

  • A staff PT with a salary of $70,000.
  • $140,000 in student loans and will be paying them off aggressively.
  • Contributing 3% to retirement.

The travel PT would pay off you’re their student loans almost a full year quicker. You could probably do that even quicker if you allocated more resources towards the loan payoff which we often see.

The long-term affect is even greater!  The travel physical therapist will have about 5% more in assets by retirement!

This is a significant number. However, this is a low estimate.  Travelers that use FitBUX to build their financial plan will see between 10% and 20% more in assets.

If you need help let us know. Our expert FitBUX Coaches are standing by ready to help you maximize your travel physical therapist salary!

By David Hughes and Joseph Reinke, CFA

Joseph Reinke, CFA

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About the Author

Joseph Reinke is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter Holder and founder of FitBUX which has helped over 14,000 young professionals on their journey to financial freedom. Joseph has been personally investing since he was 12 years old.

In addition, he has experience in student loans, mortgages, wealth management, investment banking, valuation, stock trading, and option trading. He has been on 100s of podcast and has been invited to 100s of universities to discuss financial planning with their soon to be graduates.

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