CAREERS: Physical Therapist

Posted by on Sep 17, 2019 in Careers

Do you like helping people? Are you an athlete, or someone who understands the value and importance of exercise and movement in peoples’ lives? Then a career in physical therapy might be for you. Physical therapists help recovering patients or older adults regain strength and mobility by assessing their needs and teaching them exercises and stretches to help. If someone is injured in a sporting event or accident, doctors often will refer him or her to a physical therapist for treatment. The therapist will assess the patient’s condition, and then design a specific program to either help them recover or at least relieve their pain. This treatment could include exercises, stretching, and work with machines. Often, physical therapists also educate their patients about activities and exercises to do at home.

Friendly physical therapist assisting senior patient with strength exercise
Credit: asiseeit/Getty Images. Do you think a career as a physical therapist might be right for you?

As the population of the United States continues to age, jobs such as physical therapy will become more important than ever. Read on to learn more about how you could pursue a career in this exciting and ever-growing field.

Education and Experience

As is true of any medical career, becoming a physical therapist requires a significant amount of education and training. Your first step would be to get your bachelor’s degree, preferably with course work that includes subjects like anatomy and biology. From there, you would enroll in a doctor of physical therapy program. After completing this three-year degree program, you still need to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination to receive your license, as well as any additional licensing requirements your particular state asks for. And if you want to specialize within the field, you will also need to become board-certified, which requires an exam and several hours of clinical work.

Job Outlook

The average age of Americans is on the rise, which means that there are more and more people with medical needs. So it should come as no surprise to you that physical therapists are already in high demand, and will become even more so over the next decade. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for physical therapists is expected to increase by 28 percent by 2026, yielding an additional 67,100 jobs in the field. At the moment, the unemployment rate for physical therapists is only about 1.2 percent.

Pros and Cons

It stands to reason, then, that one of the main advantages to a career in physical therapy is job security. And not only can you be reasonably certain to find a job, but you can also rest assured that it will pay well (the median salary for physical therapists is roughly $86,850 and rising), and that there will be a lot of opportunities for advancements, promotions, and salary increases. Many physical therapists also enjoy a flexible schedule, which can help you achieve a healthy work-life balance. And in addition to all of that, helping people regain their lost mobility and relieving their physical pain can also be intensely rewarding and bring with it a good deal of job satisfaction.

On the other hand, physical therapy can also be very stressful. The job itself can be physically demanding, as it requires moving patients and heavy equipment around. It can also become emotionally taxing, as physical therapists often deal with people who have been through physical trauma or who are facing a challenging time in their lives.

What Do You Think? After reading this article, do you think that a career in physical therapy would be right for you? List at least three character traits that a physical therapist should have, and explain whether or not you think you have those characteristics.