When searching for a therapist position, a big question to consider is which route to take: contract or direct hire? There are certainly factors to take into consideration when choosing either option, but there is an increase in therapy professionals gravitating towards the contract route. Let’s take a quick look into why contracting has been the chosen path for many therapists.
With contracting, the pay rate will be substantially higher when compared to direct hire through the district. This is due to the fact that your rate is being negotiated on your behalf through your agency. The reason that contract agencies can afford higher rates is because they do not have to pay pensions or summer pay for their employees (most school-based contract positions only run from August to June, average 10-month school year).
There is also the benefit of travel stipends, which your agency can assist you in applying for. Stipend limits are determined by each state and will vary for each assignment. The most common way to be eligible for travel stipends is acquiring dual residences for contract travel work.
For example, let’s say that you live in Boise, ID but you take a travel contract for Kent, WA for the next 9 months. If you keep the residency in Boise and grab an extended stay hotel room, this gives you dual residencies meaning you have dual expenses in two different areas.
Trial and Error
Contracting is also a great way to test out certain districts in a new area. You can choose to attend a school under a 3-month contract and then move over to a neighboring district for the next 6 months. As a contract employee, this allows you to find a school district with the support or caseload that you are looking for. You can also request certain age ranges and disabilities that match what you are skilled in or would like to pursue to acquire more techniques.
Some contract companies will offer to pay for Continuing Education Units to keep your skills finely tuned. They may also help with relocation & license reimbursements if you decide to relocate out of state.
For example, let’s say that you’ve been in Georgia for 3 years and your sister just had a baby in California. You may not want to live in California forever, but you want to help your sister and her baby for the next few months. You can take on a contract assignment for the next 9 months and then move back to Georgia when your assignment is complete. Or perhaps you find that California is great fit for you but would prefer a caseload that is more preschool based; contracting is your best bet!
If you are still on the fence, make a list of what is important for you on the path for your new career in school therapy – stability vs. adventure? Experience vs. monotony? Individual vs. group decisions?
Contracting may not be the best choice for all therapists, but if you are one who is open to traveling, enjoys learning new skills and is ready to experience new locations, then you may certainly want to consider a contract position. Search through our available therapy positions and let the Blazer Jobs team help you grow in your career.