Physical therapists are in high demand, and the job outlook for this profession is very bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of physical therapists will grow 15.1% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is attributed to the aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
If you are interested in a career in physical therapy, here is what you need to know about the job requirements and salary:
What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who help people improve their movement and function after an injury, illness, or surgery. They work with patients of all ages, from infants to seniors.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists assess patients’ needs and develop individualized treatment plans. They use a variety of treatments, such as exercise, manual therapy, and assistive devices, to help patients improve their strength, range of motion, and coordination. Physical therapists also teach patients how to manage their pain and prevent future injuries.
Work Environment of a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, nursing homes, and sports medicine facilities. They may also work in private practice.
Education and Training Requirements for a Physical Therapist
To become a physical therapist, you must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited program. DPT programs typically last three years and include both classroom and clinical instruction.
Physical Therapy Degree Programs
DPT programs typically cover a wide range of topics, including human anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physical therapy assessment and treatment techniques.
As part of their DPT program, students must complete a clinical internship in a physical therapy setting. This internship gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with patients.
After completing a DPT program and clinical internship, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination to become licensed. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, so it is important to check with your state board of physical therapy for specific information.
Qualifications and Skills for a Physical Therapist
In addition to the education and training requirements, physical therapists must also possess a number of important qualifications and skills, including:
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Communication and patient education skills
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Manual dexterity and physical stamina
Salary and Job Outlook for Physical Therapists
The median annual salary for physical therapists was $97,720 in May 2022. The highest-paid physical therapists worked in home healthcare services, followed by nursing and residential care facilities.
The job outlook for physical therapists is very good. The BLS projects that employment of physical therapists will grow 15.1% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.
How to Find a Physical Therapy Job
There are a number of ways to find a physical therapy job. You can start your job search online by searching job boards and the websites of hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare organizations.
You can also network with physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to learn about job openings. Attending physical therapy conferences and job fairs is another great way to meet potential employers.
Once you have found a few jobs that you are interested in, it is important to prepare your resume and cover letter. Be sure to highlight your education, training, and relevant experience. You should also tailor your resume and cover letter to each specific job that you apply for.
Once you have submitted your resume and cover letter, you may be invited for an interview. Be sure to practice your answers to common interview questions and prepare to discuss your skills and experience.
Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapy Jobs
What are the different types of physical therapy jobs?
There are many different types of physical therapy jobs available. Some of the most common specialties include:
- Orthopedic physical therapy: This specialty focuses on the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, such as fractures, sprains, and arthritis.
- Neurological physical therapy: This specialty focuses on the treatment of patients with neurological disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.
- Pediatric physical therapy: This specialty focuses on the treatment of infants and children with developmental delays, injuries, and other conditions.
- Geriatric physical therapy: This specialty focuses on the treatment of older adults with age-related conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and balance problems.
What are the most in-demand physical therapy specialties?
The most in-demand physical therapy specialties vary depending on location and other factors. However, some of the most common in-demand specialties include:
- Orthopedic physical therapy
- Neurological physical therapy
- Pediatric physical therapy
- Sports physical therapy
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy
What are the salary prospects for physical therapists with different levels of experience?
The salary for physical therapists varies depending on experience, location, and other factors. However, entry-level physical therapists typically earn a salary of around $70,000 per year. Experienced physical therapists can earn a salary of $100,000 per year or more.
A career in physical therapy is a rewarding one. Physical therapists have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of their patients by helping them improve their movement and function. If you are interested in a career in physical therapy, be sure to research the profession and meet with physical therapists to learn more about their experiences.