How School Contracting Works with an Agency
Are you a school therapist looking to make a leap into contracting but are unsure of how to get started? You’re not alone—and we are here to help! Contracting in schools can offer many unique benefits to you and your therapy career. To help you move forward with confidence, we’ve put together a step-by-step overview of how school contracting works with an agency.
Finding an Agency
In order to start the process of becoming a contractor, you’ll need to determine whether you want to work with a staffing agency or contract directly through a school district.
Often, working with a staffing agency will allow you access to more nationwide opportunities with greater flexibility. When looking for an agency to work with, it’s a good idea to take note of the benefits they offer to their contract employees, including insurance coverage, retirement planning, mentorship, and additional resources to support you in your new career.
Working with a Recruiter
One of the top benefits of working with an agency is your direct access to a recruiter. Your recruiter will be your go-to point of contact for any questions or concerns you have and your guide throughout the hiring process for each contract you take on.
As you spend more time working with your recruiter, you’ll be able to build a one-on-one relationship with them, where they understand your goals and work to find you only the opportunities that are the best fit for you. Your recruiter can help you simplify the application process for school assignments while acting as a trusted resource for career advice, so you feel confident navigating your career.
While other settings may include varying contract lengths, schools offer simplicity—typically featuring contracts for the duration of your district’s school year. Knowing the duration of school contracts will allow you flexibility in pursuing a new contract in advance or rebooking with your current school district for the next year.
So, what does a typical school contract look like? Your contract is the document you sign once you have gone through the application process and accepted a new school assignment—it specifies each logistical aspect of your assignment, including duration, hours, and pay, while highlighting other policies your agency and district might have. Remember, if you ever have a question about your contract, you can always reach out to your recruiter for clarity!
One of the main reasons why school therapists choose to transition into contracting is the opportunity for higher earning potential. We certainly agree—who doesn’t want more money? Before jumping into your new school contract, it’s important that you understand how your pay breaks down. Again, agencies will differ in the nuances of their pay structures but usually, you will see your pay broken up into three components—taxable hourly wage, meals and incidentals stipends, and a lodging stipend.
Your taxable hourly wage will be a minimum rate determined by the state in which you are working as a traveler and taxed like a regular paycheck. Your meals and incidentals and lodging stipends are variable, non-taxable payments determined by your agency to help you cover the living expenses you accrue while on assignment. However, if you should accept a contract that does not require you to travel, you will be classified as a local traveler—meaning your income will be fully taxed.
When working with an agency, you will have access to some of the key benefits you had as a permanent employee. This is why it’s crucial to understand what each agency provides when picking the right fit for you. Typically, when working full-time, top agencies will offer you:
- Health, Vision, and Dental Insurance Coverage
- Professional and General Liability Coverage
- 401k with Company Matching and Retirement Planning Options
Agencies will often offer their own, agency-specific perks to contractors, like licensure reimbursement and access to clinical support.
Of course, working in a school offers its own benefits as well! Since you will be working on your school district’s calendar, you will have built-in breaks and holidays throughout the school year, allowing you the flexibility to plan trips during your assignment—and who could forget, summer vacation!
School contracts also provide more stability than the average allied contract—with set schedules and low cancellation rates. What’s not to love!
As you weigh your decision to begin contracting in schools, we hope this guide gives you the information you need to set yourself up for success.
Are you ready to take the next step in your school therapy career?