Find up to date salary information for jobs by country, and compare with national average, city average, and other job positions.

Physical Therapist Job Description

Job Title: Physical Therapist

Overview/Summary of the role:
A physical therapist is a licensed medical professional who helps individuals with mobility and pain issues recover from injuries, surgeries, and illnesses. They develop treatment plans that include exercises, stretches, and other techniques to help patients improve their physical functioning and manage their pain.

Responsibilities and Duties:
- Evaluate patients’ medical histories and physical abilities
- Develop and implement individualized therapy plans
- Use exercises, stretches, and other techniques to help alleviate patient pain and improve mobility
- Provide patients with education on how to prevent further injury and manage their pain conditions
- Document patient progress and adjust treatment plans as necessary

Qualifications and Skills:
Hard Skills:
- Knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics
- Familiarity with diagnostic tools and medical equipment
- Expertise in a variety of therapy techniques, including exercises and stretches
- Understanding of how to develop personalized treatment plans

Soft Skills:
- Compassion and empathy for patients
- Strong communication skills to educate patients on treatment plans
- Patience and persistence to help patients progress in their therapy
- Ability to work collaboratively with other medical professionals

Education and Experience:
- Bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, or a related field (required)
- Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (preferred)
- State licensure as a physical therapist (required)
- Clinical experience, including internships (preferred)

Licensing (if applicable):

In the United States, physical therapists are required to be licensed in order to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state but usually involve completing an accredited physical therapy education program and passing a national licensing exam.

Typical Employers:

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, and sports medicine clinics.

Work Environment:

Physical therapists work with patients of all ages and abilities, helping them recover from injuries or disabilities. They may spend a significant amount of time on their feet and may need to help lift or move patients.

Career Pathways:

A career in physical therapy typically begins with a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biology or kinesiology. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, individuals will need to enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which typically takes 3 years to complete. After completing their education, physical therapists may choose to specialize in a particular area of practice, such as pediatrics or sports medicine. Career advancement opportunities may include becoming a clinical instructor, a department manager or director, or an academic researcher.

Job Growth Trend (USA and Global):

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is largely driven by an aging population in need of physical therapy services. The demand for physical therapists is also expected to increase globally, particularly in developing nations with growing middle classes and improved access to healthcare.

Career Satisfaction:
Physical therapists overall report high levels of job satisfaction due to the opportunity to positively impact the lives of their patients. They also tend to enjoy the variety of their work, as no two patients or therapeutic plans are alike.

Related Job Positions:
Some related job positions include occupational therapist, speech therapist, chiropractor, and sports medicine physician.

Connected People:
Physical therapists often work closely with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, as well as with patients and their families.

Average Salary:
In the USA, the average salary for physical therapists is $89,440 annually. In the UK, the average salary is £32,108 ($42,578) per year. In Germany, physical therapists earn an average salary of €40,000 ($47,342) per year. In India, the average salary is ₹239,305 ($3,253) per year. In Brazil, the average salary is R$57,930 ($11,316) per year.

Benefits Package:
Physical therapists often receive a benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and continuing education reimbursement.

Schedule and Hours Required:
Physical therapists typically work full-time hours, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate patients' schedules. They may also work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

Level of Autonomy:
Physical therapists typically work with patients one-on-one, but they do have a significant amount of autonomy in terms of treatment planning and implementation. They conduct assessments, diagnose conditions, and develop individualized treatment plans. They also have the freedom to try different treatment approaches and modify existing treatment plans as needed. However, they typically collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to ensure that their treatment plans align with broader patient care plans.

Opportunities for Professional Development and Advancement:
Physical therapists can pursue a variety of opportunities for professional development and advancement. They can earn advanced certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatrics, sports medicine, or women's health. They can also pursue advanced degrees in physical therapy, such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). With experience and additional education or certification, physical therapists may also have the opportunity to move into leadership positions such as clinical supervisor or director of rehabilitation.

Specialized Skills or Knowledge Required:
Physical therapists must have a deep understanding of human anatomy, movement, and function. They must also be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. Additionally, physical therapists must be skilled at developing customized treatment plans for individual patients and monitoring progress over time. Other important skills for physical therapists include communication, empathy, and the ability to motivate and inspire patients.

Physical Demands:
Physical therapists may spend a lot of time on their feet, and they may need to demonstrate exercises and movements for patients. They may also need to assist patients with mobility and transfer activities, which can involve physical exertion. In addition, physical therapists may need to lift heavy equipment and assist patients with weights or resistance bands, so they need to be physically fit and strong.

Tools and Technologies Used:
Physical therapists use a variety of tools and technologies to diagnose and treat patients. These may include exercise equipment, such as resistance bands, weights, and treadmills, as well as diagnostic tools like X-rays and ultrasound machines. In addition, physical therapists may use technologies like electrical stimulation and cold/hot therapy to reduce pain and inflammation. They also use electronic medical records to track patient progress and communicate with other healthcare professionals involved in patient care.

Work Style:
Physical therapists typically work in a fast-paced and physically demanding environment. They need to be able to work with patients of varying age groups and medical conditions, which requires them to use a variety of manual techniques to help alleviate pain and improve mobility. They also need to be able to create personalized treatment plans that cater to each patient's unique needs and goals. Aside from hands-on therapy, physical therapists also need to complete administrative tasks such as recording and tracking patient progress, documenting medical histories, and communicating with other healthcare professionals.

Working Conditions:
Physical therapists may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. Depending on the setting, working conditions may vary. For example, therapists in hospitals and rehabilitation centers may work long and irregular hours, while those in private practices may have more regular schedules. The job can be physically demanding as therapists may need to lift and move patients as part of the therapy process.

Team Size and Structure:
Physical therapists work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Depending on the setting, a team may consist of a few professionals or a large group of specialists. In some cases, physical therapists may also work with athletic trainers, coaches, or personal trainers to help athletes and fitness enthusiasts recover from injuries or improve their performance.

Collaboration and Communication Requirements:
Collaboration and communication are essential for physical therapists. They need to work closely with other healthcare professionals, communicate effectively with patients and their families, and stay up-to-date on the latest research and medical procedures. Physical therapists also need to be able to explain technical information and medical terminology in a way that their patients can understand.

Cultural Fit and Company Values:
Physical therapists need to be compassionate, patient, and empathetic. They must be able to work with patients who may be in pain or experiencing anxiety related to their injuries or medical conditions. Cultural fit and company values are also important for physical therapists, as they need to align with the mission and values of their employers or organizations. This includes prioritizing patient care, staying up-to-date with the latest medical practices and research, and fostering a positive and supportive work environment.