Physical therapists are responsible for planning and executing rehabilitative regimens designed to lessen the pain of patients or improve mobility due to an injury or age. This includes measuring the range of motion, motor function, and flexibility of each patient. Physical therapists often work in a clinic, hospital, private business, or at the home of the patient. Administrative work also is a substantial portion of the job.
Daily tasks for physical therapy jobs include:
Provide patient evaluations to assess problems and plan a rehabilitation program
Promote the necessity of health, nutrition, and fitness for their patients
Making a detailed record of patient progress
Consult with other medical professionals to improve patient programs
Training physical therapist assistants on the job
Candidates unsure of whether they want to enter the field might consider a job as a physical therapy assistant before investing too much time or money.
Physical Therapy Job Education Requirements
To become a physical therapist, candidates need at least a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from a program accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. However, this degree is usually a precursor to obtaining a master's degree in physical therapy or a doctorate in physical therapy. Depending on the level of education, salaries are greatly affected. Postgraduate programs typically take two to three years to complete and require volunteer or observational work.
Certifications are also in demand for physical therapists, especially for specialized physical therapy. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists has certifications in subjects such as:
Education, certification, and experience drastically improve the chances of a candidate being promoted to a position such as a physical therapy director.
Those looking to enter the field as a physical therapist assistant need only an associate's degree from an accredited program.
Physical Therapy Job Market
Due to an aging population, the job market for physical therapists is expected to grow 36 percent over the next 10 years, or almost three times the national average for all other occupations. The outlook for physical therapy assistants is just as good, as the job market is projected to increase 46 percent over the next 10 years.
Physical Therapy Job Salary Information
The average salary for a physical therapist holding at least a master's degree is $79,860 annually or $38.39 an hour. For physical therapy assistants, the wage is $52,160 a year or $25.08 an hour.