Dollars and Sense
When it comes to compensation, everyone wants the best pay rate they can get in their field. Even though you are doing this because you really enjoy your work, income is still necessary and you desire to be paid what you’re worth. This is true no matter where you work. When it comes to incomes in telepractice, there are several points therapists should know before accepting a position.
Not all companies are equal in their pay rates. Companies offer different hourly rates. This makes it important for the therapist to know what rate they prefer and the minimum they are willing to consider. Some companies offer salaries that can be too low for the amount of experience the therapist brings to the position. Other companies offer more than what you might be expecting. It is important to do your research on what you should be getting paid, consult with other therapists, and see which company can offer you the best rate to meet your income and professional needs.
Earnings are affected by contract rates and geographical locations. If the company’s contract is a lower rate, they will offer therapists a lower rate to make sure they have an acceptable profit margin, as well as compensating their therapists. The geographical location of the therapists also plays a significant part. Pay rates will be different if you live rurally vs in an urban area. Even the state you live in has an impact on hourly rates. No two companies follow the same formula regarding the calculation of rates, thus the large variety noted by many therapists.
Experience can also have an effect on the pay rate. The more training you have, the higher the compensation is likely to be if you negotiate properly. However, in telepractice, there are several other factors that impact the rate. Having previously worked in telepractice will likely lead to a higher pay rate, compared to just starting in this field. School experience, including IEP and case management, also help, since many contract companies are geared toward schools. Having neither school nor telepractice experience often leads to an incredibly low rate despite years as a therapist, if you even get offered a position. Experience within the school setting tends to be the more important of these two skillsets. It’s easier to mentor someone regarding teletherapy than all the nuances of working with children in a school district and following proper regulations. These regulations will also vary somewhat from state to state in their application.
The final aspect to consider regarding pay rates is whether you will be compensated via a 1099 or a W-2. With a 1099, the IRS considers you an independent contractor. This means that the company does not pay and report taxes to the IRS for you, nor do they usually provide benefits. Make sure you consult with your personal accountant regarding other aspects to these differences. Functioning as an independent contractor usually means a higher rate, simply because the company does not have to pay employee taxes and unemployment insurance to federal and state authorities. A W-2 means you are employed by the company and your employer pays the taxes for you and they provide you with varying levels of benefits. This tends to result in a lower hourly rate but provides other benefits you may need. A good rule of thumb is to anticipate about a 30-35% difference in pay rate, depending on whether you are an independent contractor vs. an employee.
With these things in mind, it is possible to find a job in telepractice that compensates you adequately. At Lighthouse Therapy, we are committed to paying our therapists a competative wage. And while we only offer 1099 right now, we hope to offer our therapists a W-2 option in the future as we grow. We want our therapists to know that their expertise is valued and they are receiving a great rate for their services. Overall, while pay is an important part of any job, being valued and trusted is just as important, if not more so, than what you are paid.