Physical TherapistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
Physical Therapists diagnose and treat people who have medical problems or conditions that hinder their ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. They provide treatment to relieve pain, improve mobility, and reduce the need for medication and surgery. Physical Therapists work in hospitals, nursing homes, private offices, fitness facilities, and other settings. They spend a lot of time on their feet, interacting with patients. All states require Physical Therapists, which are sometimes called PTs, to have a degree and be licensed.
Sample job description
[Your Company Name] is searching for an experienced and certified physical therapist to join our team. You will be in charge of assisting patients with physical recovery from injuries and trauma. It will be your job to schedule appointments with your clients, prescribe medications relevant to the injuries if needed, and assess patients for relevant injuries. If you are interested in this position, please consider applying! To be qualified for this position, you will be required to have relevant degrees in physical therapy, as well as the ability to communicate accurate information to patients. Although this position is full-time, hours will be based on appointments rather than daily amounts. If you are interested in joining our team, are a motivated physical therapist, have a fantastic work ethic, and have good communication skills then this position is for you!
Typical duties and responsibilities
Review medical histories
Diagnose function and movement issues
Develop specialized care plans, goals, and expected outcomes
Use exercises and hands-on therapy to ease pain and increase mobility
Monitor progress and modify treatment as needed
Counsel patients and their families about the recovery process
Education and experience
Physical Therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited program. These programs typically require a bachelor’s degree and prerequisite courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics. Physical therapy students do clinical work while being supervised, and DPT programs usually take about three years to complete.
Required skills and qualifications
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Compassion, empathy, and a desire to help people
Strong analytical and observational skills
Dexterity and physical stamina for exercises and hands-on therapy
Flexibility and resourcefulness to develop individualized treatment plans
Keen attention to detail
Valid state license
Continuing education certificates
Must be willing to complete all compliance standards
Ability to stand, walk, sit, use hands to feel, and reach with hand and arms
Ability to lift up to 50 pounds
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a physical therapist is $92,350 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
A physical therapist will be required to work with patients or clients who have physical injuries, pain, and trauma. Physical therapists will usually work in a clinic environment, although physical therapists commonly start their own practices as well. This position is likely to be full-time. The responsibilities of a physical therapist will vary depending on the clinic and location, though usually, a physical therapist will be responsible for consulting with patients in order to better understand and diagnose their problems, developing treatment plans and giving unique coaching, and occasionally using hands-on therapy if needed. Oftentimes, a physical therapist will be required to have relevant certifications to the position or clinic where they apply. Physical therapists may also be required to maintain patient records and data. A physical therapist will benefit from having excellent interpersonal skills because of the uniquely personal nature of the position.
Physical Therapists usually work during regular business hours, although evenings and weekends might be required depending on your employer. Most therapists work full time, but part-time shifts are common.
Physical therapists practice in a multitude of fields and have multiple areas of expertise, so having certifications in this field is extremely crucial. Some of the best certifications available for this position are:
National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). The National Physical Therapy Exam is an exam and certification used to assess the professionalism and expertise of a credentialed or non-credentialed physical therapist wishing to practice. This exam is a must for any physical therapist, as it is nationally recognized and very beneficial for a physical therapist position.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist will be ensured to have an expert level of competency and understanding of strength and conditioning as it relates to physical therapy. This certification is offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is widely recognized as a beneficial credential for a physical therapist to hold.
Master Therapist (MTAPA). The MTAPA certification is offered by the American Psychotherapy Association and can prove to be beneficial for physical therapists looking to expand their credentials and certificates. This certification does require previous work experience, so it should be considered after work experience is gathered.
Physical Therapists need to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. A bachelor’s degree is strongly preferred, in preparation for a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This program usually takes three years and includes science courses and hands-on clinical work. Some graduates enter a yearlong residency program, which provides additional training and experience.
All states require Physical Therapists to be licensed and to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Some states also conduct a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required to maintain a state license.
Some therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist with the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 29-1123
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, aging baby boomers who want to stay active will boost the demand for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Diabetes and obesity are on the rise, which means Physical Therapists will be needed to help people manage these and other chronic conditions. Doctors also are performing more outpatient surgery, and those patients will require physical therapy during recovery.
Some Physical Therapists choose to specialize in one field, such as geriatrics or orthopedics.
Sample interview questions
What made you want to become a physical therapist?
What do you enjoy the most about being a physical therapist, and what is one thing you wish you could change about the job?
Do you have a degree in physical therapy?
When you work closely with a patient, how do you schedule and create an ideal appointment or session?
What is the most common aspect of physical therapy you will use?
How would you manage or treat a movement disorder?
What are some relevant certifications you have which would help you be a better physical therapist?
Are you knowledgeable in kinesiology?
How would you resolve an issue you had with a coworker or patient?
As a physical therapist, what is one thing you enjoy about helping your patients?
Give me a sample treatment plan for someone with a bad back.
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