What is a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists are those professionals who help patients to overcome many medical problems that might have appeared during the years, or just happened unexpectedly. They deal with patients who are mainly in need for help in various situations.
Physical therapists or PTs offer their services that lead to relief of pain in the body, regain and restore functions of the body that were affected, offer the opportunity to overcome the barrier of the body and mind. Also, their role is to assure that their patients will gain mobility where necessary and improve it, and they make sure that patients’ diseases and injuries are prevented or limited in a permanent manner.
Job description of a Physical Therapist
Their main job is to work alongside with their patients in order to regain, maintain, restore and even prevent the body to shut down and not function properly, or to enter in a state of regress instead of progress. Physical therapists are professionals who will always promote and offer a more active lifestyle that involves the wellbeing of their patients through a healthier way of fitness.
Their patients consist of people who were involved in a car accident or they are suffering of disabilities, injuries, diabetes, fractures, back pain, arthritis, and any other hearth diseases. Physical therapists have to know their patients’ history in details, so they might apply the correct method of treatment. Through various tests they measure a patient’s strength, the physical condition, the balance that he has, respiration, the patient’s motor function in order to identify the current problems that might exist or the potential ones.
The examination and the evaluation that the physical therapist is doing to a patient will lead finally to the patient diagnostic and the plan of care. These treatments need prescribing from now, in order for the future results to come as they are expected to be. The treatment strategy is very important when it comes to a patient’s life, so a physical therapist needs to conduct them correctly and, where required, adapt them according to the patient’s progress.
The last part of the plan-based care involves the evaluative judgment of the physical therapist, when it comes to his or her patients, based on the independent ability that he has gained and the ability to reintegrate in the society after facing illness or injuries.
How to become a Physical Therapist?
In order to become a trained professional in this branch with good skills to overcome the hard situations that might come in your path, you should first find out what a Physical Therapist job consists of. Here are some easy steps to follow so that you’ll develop what is needed for this career.
Make sure that you are fitted for this job
Before you start enrolling in training programs that are required for this profession, make sure that you have what it takes to become a Physical Therapist. To be good requires that your practical experience and developed skills be combined with the theoretical training offered. It all starts with a patient’s life in which you should be able to form and deliver a diagnostic based on his or her movements. You’ll learn this by listening to them which their concerns or complaints are, what they are going through and what they are dealing with (or dealt with in the past), but you’ll also find out by seeing the way they move. Your next step would be setting up a plan for the treatment, according to the patient’s goals. This means that you really have to understand what they are.
Nothing compares with a good hand on therapy and being one of your attributions as a physical therapist, you’ll quickly find ways to offer the patient a release in his body by having less pain, and you’ll succeed in providing him an improved mobility.
Evaluation is another important factor that decides the way treatment evolves and if there are any changes required in the plan-based care. The progress will always improve the mood of your patient and you’ll feel a lot more confident that you are on the right track.
Communication is the tight bond which changes the whole perspectives as a physical therapist. The skills in this area are not to miss, because you’ll have to announce not only your patient but also his or her family what they should expect once the patient is healed and recovered.
It is not an easy way to work with people, especially those who were traumatized by early experiences. As a professional you should be able to possess emotional skills, which will lead to a full support when it comes to a patient. This is how you can find ways of handling their injuries.
Education is a key to success
A physical therapist requires steps of knowledge to meet the perfect career opportunity. Employers will look at your experience in the field, but also at the techniques that you’ve mastered during the years of preparation as becoming a physical therapist.
You can obtain a Bachelor’s degree from a university with a four year preparation, where the main focus is set on science classes. The prerequisites that can be encountered in a post-graduate program involve knowledge which is based on courses with major in biology, anatomy, chemistry and physiology.
If you just graduated and your dream is to become a physical therapist, contact your school counselor for information regarding whether you have chosen a specialization well, and which are the courses that will get you in this line of profession.
The courses that you should follow involve the subjects of psychology, a very important branch since you’ll be dealing with people, biology, and exercise science. You don’t have to be fully specialized in a science field, though. You can major in other fields that have no connection with this specialization. But the courses mentioned earlier shouldn’t miss from your portfolio. This is because they are in the prerequisites that a post-program will ask, especially if you’ve chosen this path of Physical Therapy.
During your time as a student you should prepare yourself a lot for the next level, since the average GPA for a person entering in a training program was really good. There are also a few training programs, which will grant you the opportunity to enter, after graduating from your high school.
If your choices are based on wanting to become an assistant in this profession instead of a Physical Therapist, then you can apply for an associate’s degree. The post graduate training programs can offer you options when it’s about graduation. Some will lead you to earn a DPT degree or a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, while others will lead you to earn a MPT degree or in other words a Master of Physical Therapy degree.
For a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, the courses’ length reaches at three years, while for a Master of Physical Therapy the courses will end after two or three years. Usually, the courses involve subjects like physiology, neuroscience, and anatomy and so on.
Make sure that first you really inform yourself on the Physical Therapist programs that you can find in your area and that you’ve made the right choice. Training programs involve clinical rotation in which you’ll learn the how to gain hand on experience by working in this field. Of course, not all of them involve clinical rotation. To enter in one of these institutions, you’ll need to finish the GRE or the Graduate Record Examination.
Post graduate programs will involve a very competitive application process, so you really must have experience in this profession. But also make sure that your connections are really great, since you’ll have to provide two or three letters of reference.
Most states in the US will require from your part to pass the NPTE or the National Physical Therapy Examination and many employers will require to have obtained a license in order to practice. So don’t hesitate to obtain one since this might enter also in the state requirements (or in other cases not).
Improve your career opportunities
An additional training will help a lot in the line of your career. After graduation, you can enroll in clinical residency program that will make the difference in job. It will also grant you the opportunity to have earned and achieved experience in area of care specializations.
Applying for a clinical fellowship will bring you closer to a specialized area, in which you will complete an advanced instruction based on clinical and didactic fields that will allow you to understand the notions involving a subspecialty area better. A clinical fellowship will also allow you to have a teacher and you’ll be able to improve your skills with the clinical experience.
Your career opportunities will be also improved by gaining a board certification in a certain area of specialization that will help you obtain and achieve a great amount of expertize. Even though as a physical therapist you are not required to obtain one, when going to a job this will for sure be a huge advantage and you have won already with such an advantage, since your skills are very developed as well as your education level. You’ll be a perfect candidate this way, with all the possible chances to get the job.
You can also appeal to some great certification options in the Physical Therapy branch that will allow you to develop a well-defined area of expertise, such as Neurology, Sports, Cardiovascular and pulmonary therapy, Geriatrics and so on.
Work Environment and Schedule
A physical therapist or a PT usually works in many and various settings that involve the healthcare facilities. Whether it is in the private or the public domain, a PT will have excellent job outlooks. Their work is done in areas and settings like hospitals, schools, skilled nursing facilities, private offices, home health agencies, gyms, fitness facilities and so on.
Their schedule involves flexible hours, but in a week those that work as being full time employees will have a schedule of forty hours per week. This might include evenings and even weekends, in some cases.
They are required to be physically fit due to the unlimited number of lifting patients, moving heavy equipment and standing.
Pros and cons of being a Physical Therapist
Many people will instantly add on their list the option of becoming a physical therapist because they could support a lot of people and second because their income will allow them to live better. However before taking your chances with this job take a look at the world of physical therapy and have a glimpse of the wide expectations.
The pros and cons of this job are highly recommended to be searched and read. The pros that will give you a good enjoy the full experience start with a variety of job opportunities since this field is in high demand by many. The high level of training will allow you to extend your horizon in the field of health and science by gaining advanced knowledge.
This career will allow you to see improvements in your patient life as well as their progress, helping them will be fully a rewarding experience. You’ll have the opportunity to live an active life not stuck all day long behind a desk and with a minimum of human interaction. Everything in this career is quite the opposite of boredom, and you’ll have plenty of interaction with your patients.
The salary for this profession is very satisfactory, and you can get an average income estimated at almost $75,010 per year. You also have the best of choosing in which setting you want to work, such as clinics, home cares, private practices and other facilities.
You have the opportunity as well as a physical therapist to choose the client types. This means you can choose from working with children and up to adults, or just focus on the restoration, sport medicine or even chronic conditions, and you choose.
However, like any other job in the health care or the human services world, your job can become from time to time overwhelming. Also, some burnout can install this bringing only a slow progress of your patients.
This job can be physically demanding, and if your health is quite poor then you’ll need to reconsider your job prospects and opportunities. Your education requirements can be extended over a period of five years, and the costs that you’ll have to pay are likely to be high. The first few years of your salaries might be directed on paying the loans.
Once you get a clear understanding in your head about the pros and cons, you can finally evaluate your decisions a lot better and head out for the right career.
Physical Therapist job growth
There is clearly a demand for the job growth of this career. The major factor that affects this growth is the aging baby boomer population. As this generation ages in time, there will be an increased demand for these professionals who can offer the proper aid for these specific patients to adjust more with their aging bodies.
For the succeeding five to ten years, the employment rate of physical therapists is estimated to have a growth percentage of 33%-34%, this being much faster average than for all occupations. However, it is necessary to notice that the long-term employment growth projections may not reflect the short or long term economic job conditions totally.
The competition in this job will mainly depend on several factors such as the location in which you are established, and the type of working setting you are applying to. Trying to open your won practice will be quite tough because the competition that is present means other Physical Therapists practices with an already established reputation.
Less competition, on the other hand, is found in hospitals, or health practitioner’s offices, where there are plenty of openings and the demand for these professionals is continuously growing. These jobs are plenty, and you don’t have to have a hard time being hired by one of these facilities or other. There will always be people in need for the aid of these professionals.
Physical Therapist Salary
With an excellent profile, a physical therapist will earn an average annual income that reaches in the United States at about $86,525, which is a higher average compared to many other salaries in the US. In a month, a physical therapist will earn a salary that reaches at $7,215 while in a week he will gain a salary that reaches at $1,643.
A physical therapist salary depends on a variety of factors that will include, like in many other cases, the geographical location, the education and the skill set that he gained across years as well as experience, and according to each and every state requirements.
Annually, a physical therapist can earn a salary that will be comprised between $60,610 and $120,090, this according to the years of experience and the setting in which he works, not to mention the location.
Each state will offer a salary that is variable and that is influenced not only by the factors that were discussed earlier, but as well the demanding cases that are growing in the healthcare system. The best paying states for this job can be found in Nevada, with an average salary for a physical therapist that will reach per year at $115,678. Alaska is another one of the best paying states with an income that will be at about $94,960 per year.
Other examples can be found in California, Texas and New Jersey, where a Physical Therapist salary will be comprised between $94,375 and $94,835 per year. The salary also depends on the location where a job can be found. In metropolitan areas, there are higher and lowest points where a salary can be estimated at a certain amount of money. The highest paying metropolitan areas that can be found where the physical therapists earn a good salary are Las Vegas, Jacksonville (Florida), Fairbanks (Alaska) and others.
In Las Vegas, a salary for someone working in this branch will reach at $121,890 per year, while in Fairbanks, Alaska it will be estimated to be at about $114,125 per year. But the salary estimation points can be encountered in regions that are not metropolitan, such as Northwest Iowa, Other Nevada, and Upper Eastern Shore Maryland and other non-metropolitan areas.
For these areas and other best paying non-metropolitan areas, the annual average salary is estimated between $107,210 and $119,925. The salaries are also gained according to any larger industry or other work facilities. The best paying industries can be found in the Home Health Care Services, where the annual salary reaches at $95,460, and other services where the PT salary is comprised between $92,035 and $92,175 per year.
The job description at this point is really great, since as a physical therapist you’ll earn more than many other job employees in diverse and different settings. For example, an occupational therapist will gain a salary that will reach only at $76,450 per year, this being less than a physical therapist salary.
The job of a PT is very rewarding, since the areas in which he operates deals with a healthy manner to live and even if it is very demanding, the benefits are seen in an individual salary, not to mention the future perspectives that are estimated to grow in the next ten or fifteen years. The economic flux and the competitiveness that appears in every job are other influential factors that will lead to a well-defined economy and more openings in the healthcare system.
But you should always be prepared when it comes to accepting and taking a job in other states, since you’ll have to make calculations to know what the living expenses are and how much is the salary that you gain. For a fresh graduate, the salary will be less compared to a senior physical therapist. But the surveys made indicate that the average salary for a physical therapist is very well paid compared with other health facilities.
Salary of a Physical Therapist in 2015
The work of a physical therapist can be highly competitive then the jobs of other health care professionals who work in therapy. The salary for the year 2015 in the United States will vary greatly. Wages will depend on the type of employer and the work setting, as well as on the lower and higher points that can be encountered in various states.
The average salary of a physical therapist is estimated to reach about $65,862 per year more or less. People will gain different incomes also estimated in each state and the geographical areas in which they are working.
Physical Therapist Salary in 2016
The variety of factors that affect and impact the salaries of physical therapists in 2016, in the US, are mainly based on the specialization that one has within the field, the geographical location, years of experience and many other factors.
The median yearly pay for these experts is estimated to have a basic average that reaches around $82,392 per year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top ten percent of these professionals will take home earnings that exceed $116,093 per year. The other salaries will be either below average, or above average in better areas.
The potential earnings throughout a physical therapist career will depend mainly based on the work ethic that you present, the location in which you live and the years of experience that you’ve gained in the field. Your earnings can be boosted if you gain great results with your patients, and you start developing a good name reputation.
The income also varies according to the years of experience as earlier reminded. For instance the median payment for an entry-level physical therapist is estimated to be around $65,010 per year, this meaning the starting point in your job and up to five years in the field. Those who are already in the field for more than nine years and up to twenty years can expect to take home a based median income that usually is estimated to reach up to $81,100 per year.
A physical therapist salary is also influenced according to the state in which he or she is working, and also based on the living expenses in that particular area and the costs of living.
Physical Therapist salary in Canada, Australia and United Kingdom
- When you work as a physical therapist in Canada, your salary will be estimated around CAD$70,150, up to CAD$80,150 per year. An hourly wage at a starting level will be estimated to reach at 22.30 and in time it will increase due to various other factors at about 27.50 per hour.
- In Australia, a physical therapist will receive an average annual salary that is situated between AU$54,055 and AU$80,597. A median salary for someone working in this profession will go up to be at AU$64,415 per year. Working as a physical therapist and practicing this profession for years, you can expect that your salary will increase and with an amount of working experience formed your income will be estimated to be between AU$47,120 and AU$86,185 per year.
- UK will pay a median average physical therapist salary that is between £51,290 and £40,010 per year. An individual working in this field will gain an hourly wage that reaches at £25.67 per hour. The age is one of the important and general factors, which influence the various earnings. For example, a person who is in her early twenties will earn a salary that reaches at £38,469 per year, while one in her mid-thirties will earn a salary that reaches at £50,264 per year. The figures in the physical therapist salary continue to grow once with the age.
Conclusion on Physical Therapist
Being hired as a specialist in one of the great medical therapy jobs, an annual salary that can be obtained by a physical therapist will be estimated to reach at $75,735 and even more, every year. The lowest points in this profession will grant an individual working in this field a salary of $53,590 per year (and even less in some cases), while the best paid income can be estimated starting from $107,955 per year, and even more.
The future outlook for someone working in this profession is very bright, since these professionals are of great value among the healthcare specialists. People will always pursue a physical therapist, if his or her life is affected by various situations that only a professional like this can (and will) help.
- First Published Date: 22 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016