Categories: Career DevelopmentHealth carePhysical TherapySalaries

Is Physical Therapy the Right Career For You?

Empathy. Hard work. Job satisfaction. All descriptors that encompass the profession of the physical therapist. If these words also describe you, a career in physical therapy may be right for you. Learn more about what the job entails, average salaries, and the long-term outlook for a career in physical therapy.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapists, also known as PTs, are responsible for helping acutely or chronically ill and injured people to manage pain and improve range of movement. This involves:

  • Learning the patient’s medical history
  • Reviewing existing medical notes
  • Discussing the patient’s goals and desired outcomes
  • Developing a treatment plan for the patient
  • Using exercises, massage, and PT equipment effectively
  • Evaluating and recording the patient’s progress
  • Adapting and altering treatment plans if necessary
  • Educating the patient on how to cope with challenges
  • Showing the patient how to use mobility aids if needed
  • Teaching the patient’s family about the condition and what to do

Who Do Physical Therapists Work With?

Physical therapists work with anyone in need of their specific care, and conditions may include:

  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Developmental delays in children
  • Arthritis
  • Amputees

Where Do Physical Therapists Work?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, many PTs work in hospital settings, treating patients who are in for short-term conditions like accidents, surgery, or illness. However, the majority work elsewhere in therapy clinics, home healthcare situations for children, handicapped, and elderly patients, nursing and residential care facilities, and doctors’ offices.

Some sports facilities, such training arenas or schools, employ physical therapists to work with athletes. Physical rehabilitation clinics for military personnel who have been injured on duty have a great need for PTs, and this can be a rewarding although challenging vocation.

City location is also a factor to consider. Jobs are on offer throughout the nation, but these 10 cities are definitely places to look at. Other things to consider if you’re planning to relocate to a different place from where you grew up or trained is cost of living, accommodation, and commuting times.

Average Salaries for Physical Therapists…

Average Salaries for Physical Therapists

Data collated by Paysa shows the average physical therapist salary is $79k per year, with the lower end approximately $46k and the highest around $131k. The salary you earn is based on the level of your education, the amount of experience you have, what the vacant position is, and where the work is located. The latter includes the work setting, for example, a state hospital or private clinic, and in which state, city, or town the job is situated.

Career Outlook for Physical Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the profession of physical therapist will grow by 25 percent from now to 2026. This is partially because of the increase in baby boomer patients and the upsurge in the number of individuals with diabetes and obesity.

This is a career that can grow and flex with your life. Once you’re qualified, you could start out working in a physical therapy practice, reporting to a manager. Promotion may be possible within the practice or you could decide to branch out on your own and start your own practice. It’s possible to develop your physical therapy career along your own interest lines so you fulfill your ambitions.

Perhaps you want to travel. Within the U.S. this is simple. And daily or hourly paid work is often available. Physical therapy is a worldwide profession, although working in your chosen career overseas is slightly more complicated with regard to work visas and local licensing.

Physical therapists, both women and men, who wish to have children, find that a career in physical therapy fits well with this aim. Flexi-time and part-time work is very doable, so you can fit your career as a physical therapist around family commitments and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What Kind of Person Does It Take to Be a Physical Therapist?

Fitness conscious. Not to extremes, though. Physical therapists are on their feet for many hours of the day and use their own muscles as they massage injured or post-op patients and move bulky equipment. Because they know and see what can happen to people, they tend to be careful of how they move and understand how necessary it is to keep fit and strengthen core muscles.

Empathetic holistic care is important. Physical therapists don’t just treat injuries or assist in post-op rehabilitation, they need to consider the whole person. Good communication skills, healthy interpersonal relationships with patients, and running appointments on time all serve to make patients feel they are important and well cared for.

Be prepared to keep up to date with relevant certifications and licenses, new scientific data, and networking with other professionals in your field of expertise. This will involve extra study and even exams, so it’s important to make sure you’re sharp mentally as well as physically.

It’s advantageous to know something about how to run a business, especially if your end goal is to either manage a physical therapy clinic or possess your own practice. Skills such as writing business plans, tracking and monitoring admin processes, getting best prices on equipment, and learning efficient billing practices are all essential in the healthcare field.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Physical Therapists?

Firstly, you need a bachelor’s degree, majoring in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, or biology. Secondly, you need to undertake a three-year Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This program must be Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) certified. Licensing is then applied for by writing a national exam, the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). Different states also have a variety of licensing regulations.

You may go on to qualify for various certifications in fields including sports, pediatric or geriatric care, and women’s health. It’s often better to wait some years before deciding to specialize as you then have practical experience to base your decision upon.

No matter what type of physical therapy career you decide on, where you work and who you treat, typically this profession offers excellent job satisfaction regarding career progression and good remuneration. A beneficial work-life balance is present, and it’s a career that you can follow throughout your working life. Learn more about your earning potential as a physical therapist by visiting the Paysa salaries tool.

Additional resources:

Where Do Physical Therapists Earn the Most?

Physical Therapist Salary Data

Physical Therapy Jobs

Author: Katy Willis