The median wage of a physical therapist in 2017 is $86,850. The lowest-paid 25 percent is $71,670, and the best-paid 25 percent is $101,790.
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapist Aide
Sports Medicine Physician
Physical therapists (PTs) are professionals in the medical field who are trained to restore a patient’s strength, motion, activity, and also prevent disability after undergoing a surgery or sustaining an injury. They also teach their patients how to manage their condition by evaluating them and developing a plan using proper treatment techniques. These techniques include specific exercises, stretches, and even machines – all designed to improve mobility and restore the body function.
Moreover, physical therapists also have knowledge on surgical procedures and are familiar with the limitations of the human body as they need to develop treatment goals to improve the well-being of their patients. Not only do they need to be well-informed when it comes to their patient’s physical condition, but they also need to have extensive training with regards to their patient’s psychological condition to help them cope with the emotional challenges associated with their physical condition.
Physical therapists usually practice their expertise in hospitals, fitness centers, schools, occupational environments, outpatient clinics, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes.
A physical therapist’s duties include:
Here are some signs to prove you are meant to be a physical therapist:
You are compassionate.
According to experts, traumatic events can have an impact on the progression of physical pain. This is because when in the state of trauma, your nervous system goes into survival mode, making it difficult to relax and bring it back to its normal state. The body is in constant distress when this happens, thus resulting into heightened physical pain. Put trauma and extreme physical pain together and you become emotionally stressed as well.
This emotional and physical toll on a patient is one of the reasons why a physical therapist should establish a professional and personal relationship with them to make them feel that they are cared for and understood.
There are even studies that show how empathy and compassion are the “secret sauces” for an effective physical therapy. By being understanding of the feelings and emotions of the patient, both the physical therapist and patient are able to form a connection and build trust within each other. Moreover, the patient will be more open to share what they feel and explain clearly their complaints, if there are any.
You are a good listener.
Good listening skills (also called empathic listening) and compassion are not the same, but they are closely linked together. As an empathic listener, you empower the speaker, which is your patient, to become more confident and comfortable with communicating their concerns to you. This is by:
You communicate well.
Physical therapists should also be comfortable when communicating. They should be able to properly explain to their patients everything they need to know by using the right words and terms in a way that the patient can best understand it.
When physical therapists talk to their patients, they consider the patient’s age, sex, ethnicity, demographics, and their emotional and mental state. It is important for a physical therapist to take time and get to know their patient and what makes him or her a unique individual. A physical therapist needs to learn how to determine and adapt to different communication styles to ensure that the patient’s concerns are being addressed and there is a clear understanding between the two parties.
You are optimistic.
A successful physical therapist has an optimistic attitude that reflects on their patients. Most of those who undergo physical therapy also suffer from symptoms of depression or extreme feelings of sadness associated with the physical illness and psychological conditions of the patient. A physical therapist not only helps his patient recover from orthopedic injuries but also helps improve the patient’s mood as they ease their physical pain. Optimism helps a patient recover from surgery faster so a physical therapist should know how to redirect the patient’s negative thoughts and highlight positivity and progress instead.
Physical therapy is one of the most well-paid and in-demand fields in the healthcare industry. It usually takes 7 years to become a physical therapist, from studying to earning the license.
Here is the usual path of a physical therapist to employment:
1. Complete a Physical Therapy degree or a degree any related health-related field.
Physical therapists should first earn a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy or in any health-related field, focusing on courses such as:
2. Complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree
After completing a bachelor’s degree, an aspiring physical therapist must complete another degree in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) which usually takes 3-4 years, depending on the program he chooses.
DPT courses normally include:
There are specializations you can choose from when taking up a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
Geriatricians may work in physician offices, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and in-home care.
In addition, wound management is the comprehensive care plan of treating and managing a patient’s wound effectively. Electrotherapy helps speed up the process of wound healing.
1. Interpersonal skills.
This skill is a must for a professional in the physical therapy field because they will be working with different people most of the time and a part of their job qualification is to have a strong desire to help patients. They must also know how to communicate well with their patients by carefully understanding their concerns and medical histories so that they can instruct and coordinate the proper programs and exercises that will help their patients to stay mobile.
2. Observational skills.
Most physical therapists use their observational skills in diagnosing patients. They use this skill to focus on and understand which part of the patient’s body is not functioning properly. Careful observation is an important factor in determining how to correct and improve what is wrong with the patient’s body.
3. Medicine and Anatomy.
Anatomy, which is the study of the human body, is one of the main courses in a physical therapy program curriculum. Having said this, aspiring PTs should already be familiar with anatomy and medical terminology.
Anatomy is the key to the practice of health and medicine as professionals use this to formulate a diagnosis. Once diagnosed, they will be able to create an action program for the patient.
4. Physical Skills.
Physical therapy is a profession that requires a rigorous amount of strength and dexterity. PTs spend most days using much of their strength to lift, push, pull, and assist patients while performing exercises and stretches. They also need speed, balance, coordination, and good reflexes to guide patients through these physical activities.
5. Ethical skills.
Every career that exists in the medical field should understand how to apply ethics when treating patients. Physical therapists have a code of ethics or code of conduct. This includes:
If you are looking for a profitable career in the US healthcare industry by becoming a physical therapist, then this article is for you. We’ll give you a handful of helpful advice on how you will get a job as a physical therapist.
There are many reasons why you should consider a career in the field of physical therapy.
First, it is rewarding. As a physical therapist, you make a huge impact on your patients’ lives by helping them manage their pain through treatments and preventing disability due to certain health conditions and other medical problems.
In addition to this, physical therapy is a career that pays well – with a median salary of $86,850 in 2017, depending on the state you work in, your level of education, area of expertise or specialization, and years of experience.
Lastly, job security is an assurance in this field because there is a growing demand for patients who need physical therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected growth of physical therapy employment from 2016 to 2026 is 28 percent, with an estimated 67,100 job openings.
How can you get a job as a physical therapist that pays?
To become a bonafide physical therapist, you should complete the qualifications below:
Once you have completed the qualifications enumerated above, the next question is: how does one find a job as a physical therapist?
Consider these factors when you are looking for a job:
Top job websites for physical therapist.
There are many ways on how you can apply for a job as a physical therapist. But uploading and sending your application online is the easiest and common way to find a physical therapist job.
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Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
If you want to move to another state to expand your practice, then you need to obtain a license to practice in your chosen state – different state, different licenses, different requirements, and different applications.
Just to be sure, ask the licensing authority in the jurisdiction of the state you want to practice in for the updated licensure requirements. Confirm if you also need to take the jurisprudence exam. Afterward, transfer your National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) score to another jurisdiction using The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) score transfer request form.
Just because physical therapists are in high demand these days, does not mean that you can find a job easily. Most companies are looking for physical therapists who are excelling in their field.
No matter how good you are at what you do, if it doesn’t show in your resume then chances are, the recruiter won’t be impressed and doesn’t include you in their shortlist.
A well-written resume will help you stand out and be one step ahead of the rest of the applicants. Here are some tips!
1. To start, instead of using an “objective” to exhibit that you are the perfect choice for the role, use a “summary” statement.
A summary statement is a short paragraph at the beginning of the resume, highlighting your skills and experiences in the field of your expertise. Take time to read the job description and customize the summary to add important keywords, such as the skills, areas of expertise, and years of experience required for the position. This will make your resume stronger, grabbing the attention of the hiring manager.
2. Include your most relevant work experience in reverse chronological order.
The work experience that you will mention in this part of your resume should include details relevant to the job that you are applying for. It should include your job title, the name of your current or previous company (or companies, if applicable), and the dates worked. For every work experience, you should add 3-5 bullet points of your work description. You can also add the type of patients you have worked with and the setting or size of your work environment. To add pizzazz, you can add your key achievements as well.
3. Showcase your affiliation and exceptional skills.
Aside from your technical skills as a physical therapist, you can also include your soft skills or transferable skills that are essential to the position, such as strong communication skills, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, etc.
If you are a member of an organization that has a significance to being a physical therapist, such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), please include this detail as well. This will prove that you are serious in your profession.
4. Give emphasis to your educational background.
The educational background section is just as important as the work experience section. This is a vital part of your resume because this shows proof that you are qualified to be a physical therapist; that you passed the bachelor’s degree in physical therapy or in any health-related field and another degree in doctor of physical therapy (DPT). Including this also implies that you have passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and completed your state’s requirements for a physical therapist license.
5. Proofread your resume.
Even though the job doesn’t require you to have A+ writing skills, a polished resume makes you look professional and that you have an eye for detail. If your resume is full of grammatical errors, chances are, your application might get shut down even if your work experience and credentials are impressive.
The common interview questions for aspiring physical therapists are situational and open-ended. By asking these types of questions, the interviewer gets an overview of how you handle stressful and unpredictable environments. This will also show the interviewer how you interact with your team, patients, and patients’ family members.
Below are some of the most common interview questions and how you can answer them:
How do you motivate patients?
In this question, the interviewer wants to know how you connect with your patient. This is the perfect time to showcase your interpersonal skills. You can share to the interviewer the challenges you have faced when motivating your patients to perform and stick to the treatment plan you have developed, emphasizing how you successfully inspired your patient to participate in the exercise that brought about positive results.
Tell me about your typical day at your current/previous job
This is a common question that gives the interviewer a glimpse of your past experiences and personal qualities to determine if you match the job requirements or not. This is why it is important that you review carefully the job requirements, duties, and responsibilities listed in their job posting. Tick off the requirements and tasks that match yours, and focus on those when answering this question during the interview.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
The main reason why the interviewer asks this question is to know if you will still be working for them in the long run or over the next five years.
You can let the interviewer know that you plan on gaining a specialization (Geriatrics, Sports, Neurology, Women’s Health, Clinical Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular & Pulmonary, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, or Oncology). This answer shows that you have a bigger career goal and that you are the type of person who is motivated and proactive.
A generic answer will also do. You can answer that you still see yourself working as a physical therapist five years from now because this is a career you enjoy doing and you feel rewarded.
The secret to this question is to show your enthusiasm in the career, and that you’re planning to stick to it long-term.
Why do you want to pursue a career in physical therapy?
The interviewer wants to see if you are passionate about being a physical therapist and if you really enjoy this career. The more interested you appear, the more the employer would want to hire you.
There are many ways on how you can answer this question. If you are having trouble internalizing and figuring out the main reason why, you can tell the interviewer that you are motivated to help others and make an impact, and being a physical therapist allows you to do that.
Simply saying that you are passionate about being a physical therapist puts the interviewer’s mind at ease. Tell him or her you enjoy working every single day – all you have to do is make them feel that you’ll succeed in this field.
What is your expected salary?
A physical therapist is one of the most top paid professionals in the medical field, especially in most developed countries, so you can expect that you will earn enough from this career. Therefore, you can answer that you will accept the amount that they will offer you. If they insist that you give them a number, then you can refer to the list given earlier on the average earnings of physical therapists in every state.
Your interviewer may also use the following operational and situational questions:
Always use detailed examples when answering their questions. Emphasize how you handled specific work problems in your past experiences. Explain thoroughly the actions you took and the results that happened. Always remember to focus on the skills and responsibilities required in the position when you answer the interviewer’s questions.
In addition, you can use a spell checker tool in your software program or even have your resume proofread by a friend or a family member to ensure that your resume is perfect in terms of grammar and vocabulary.
Job hunting can be hard, whether you are a fresh graduate or someone who has been in the field for years. The technique here is to make yourself stand out over other applicants by selling yourself to your potential employer.
Rejection isn’t always easy to take in, but staying positive and learning from the experience will help you move on from it. If you feel you did not deliver your best during your interview or you think your application could have been better, brush it off and try again. You’re already aware of what you need to improve, making you more confident than the previous attempt. If you know that you did your best but still got turned down, just tell yourself that the company may not be right for you. Don’t dwell on your frustration; instead, stay focused on the opportunities. The company you’re meant to be in will eventually welcome you to their team.
Sharpen your skills in physical therapy by taking these top online courses
Skills Success has carefully curated and organized thousands of online video courses. Start your journey to becoming a physical therapist with these top online courses.