Physical therapist essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $79,860
- 2011, number of jobs: 191,460
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 39 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
Physical therapists; what they do:
Physical therapists are those professionals you hope you never have to see, but if you do, you’re extremely grateful they are around. Physical therapists work with individuals suffering from injuries, illnesses, or birth conditions to help them regain more mobility and reduce or manage pain.
A physical therapy career includes studying patients’ medical history, interviewing patients and closely observing their movements in order to produce a diagnosis and develop a plan.
Rehabilitation plans include any combination of exercises, stretches, hands-on therapy, heat and cold compresses and additional equipment. A physical therapist career includes regularly monitoring a patient’s progress and adjusting the plan or including new treatments as needed.
Equally as important to their physical contributions to a patient’s recovery, physical therapists are also responsible for educating patients and their family members about realistic expectations during recovery and how to cope with the outcome.
A physical therapist career may include overseeing physical therapists assistants and physical therapy aides. They also consult with doctors, surgeons, and other specialists.
Physical therapists job titles:
- Staff Physical Therapist
- Home Care Physical Therapist
- Outpatient Physical Therapist
- Pediatric Physical Therapist
- Registered Physical Therapist (RPT)
- Rehabilitation Services Director
- Licensed Physical Therapist
- Sports Physical Therapist
Physical Therapists Education, Certification and License Requirements
A physical therapist career generally begins with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Much less common is a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree.
Physical therapist students participate in clinical rotations, gaining valuable work experience under the supervision of a professional. Following graduation, physical therapists also often complete a residency lasting anywhere from nine months to three years.
Physical therapists programs cover subjects such as:
Although all states require licensure for people with a physical therapist career, the requirement for licensure varies by state. Generally, licensure requirements involve passing the National Physical Therapy Examination or a parallel state-administered exam. Some states also require physical therapists to take continuing education courses to maintain their license.
Physical therapists can obtain a board certification in a clinical specialty, such as pediatrics or sports physical therapy.
Physical Therapists Job Outlook
Forecast: 39 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for physical therapists, much faster than the average for all occupations.
The aging baby boom generation staying active later in life increases the demand for physical therapists. Physical therapists are also key players in the recovery of more patients recovering from outpatient surgery, as well as helping people manage the effects of chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
Medical advances also allow more trauma victims and babies with birth defects to survive which increases the demand for physical therapy.
Physical Therapists Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $79,860
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $92,860
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $65,950
- Offices of health practitioners
- State, local, and private hospitals;
- Home health care services
- Nursing and residential care facilities