Physical therapists use a variety of rehabilitative techniques to improve flexibility and range of motion in patients. Many patients have either experienced traumatic injuries or intrusive surgeries that require several weeks or months of rehabilitation. Therapists may also use training programs to help at-risk patients avoid disabilities in the future.
This is a physically demanding job that may require lifting patients or helping them move. People who excel in the field are usually empathetic, strong and supportive.
After several years of service, physical therapists may move up in their careers to become Physical Therapy Directors. These professionals are responsible for managing physical therapy programs and departments. They often have a staff of therapists and related professionals working under their direction.
Physical Therapist Job Education Requirements
To become physical therapists, students must complete postgraduate degrees. Available programs usually culminate in either a Master of Physical Therapy or a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Before entering postgraduate programs, students should take courses in subjects such as:
These subjects prepare students for rigorous studies at the graduate level.
In addition to completing degrees, physical therapists must get licensed by their states. Specific requirements may vary depending on where the person wishes to work. Certification usually includes hands-on training working under the supervision of a more experienced therapist.
Those who do not wish to complete the required level of education and certification may want to consider pursuing careers as Physical Therapist Aides. Aides receive most of their training on the job. They usually have high school diplomas, but college experience isn't always necessary.
Physical Therapist Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 204,200 physical therapists working in the United States in 2012. The job is expected to grow by 36 percent between 2012 and 2022. That's about three times faster than the average growth rate. By 2022, there should be approximately 277,770 physical therapies working in the U.S.
Physical Therapist Job Salary Information
In 2012, the median pay for physical therapists was $79,860 per year. Those in the bottom 10th percentile earned a median salary of $56,280 in 2013. Physical therapists with the highest salaries may earn over $113,000 annually.
Where a physical therapist works can significantly affect how much he or she earns. States with the highest annual mean wages for physical therapists include:
New Jersey ($90,750)
While jobs in these states don't guarantee better pay, most physical therapists find that they earn more money by working in areas with higher mean wages.