Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, are an important part of the rehabilitation and treatment of patients. They provide physical therapy to help injured or ill people regain their movement, increase their strength, manage pain, and improve or correct disabling conditions resulting from aging, disease, injury, or environmental conditions.
Physical therapists typically work in private offices, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. They spend much of their time actively working with patients using physical therapy techniques such as exercise, massage, balance training, and other therapeutic interventions. Physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists.
Physical therapist aides with a high school diploma receive on-the-job training during supervised clinical work. Physical therapist assistants need a two-year associate’s degree from an accredited program. You cannot become a physical therapist with just a bachelor’s degree, which takes four years to complete. But after completing a bachelor’s degree program in pre-physical therapy, students may apply to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to continue their physical therapy education.
DPT programs can typically be completed in three years and include both clinical and classroom experiences. In addition to requiring a bachelor’s degree for admission, there are other specific educational prerequisites such as classes in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. All states require physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $55,170 and the median annual wage for physical therapists was $84,020. Employment of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants is projected to grow from 34 to 41 percent up until 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Most of the demand for physical therapy services will come from aging baby boomers who are staying active later in life. In addition, physical therapists will be needed to treat people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity. If you like the idea of doing hands-on work with the public in a healthcare field, but aren’t interested so much in medicine or invasive methods, physical therapy would be a good career for you.
Sports Medicine Specialist