Therapist

What is a physical therapist job outlook


How to Become a Physical Therapist

About this section

Physical therapists

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching, to treat patients.

Physical therapists entering the occupation need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Education

Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

DPT programs typically last 3 years. Physical therapy programs typically require a bachelor’s degree, which may be in recreation and fitness or healthcare and related fields, and prerequisite courses such as anatomy, chemistry, and physics.

Most DPT programs require candidates to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Physical therapist programs often include courses in biomechanics, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapist students also complete clinical work, during which they gain supervised experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.

Physical therapists may apply to a clinical residency program after graduation. Residencies typically last about 1 year and provide additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. Physical therapists who have completed a residency program may choose to specialize further by participating in a fellowship in an advanced clinical area. The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education has directories of physical therapist residency and fellowship programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapists to be licensed, which includes passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Other requirements vary by state. For example, some states also require a law exam and a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.

After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in clinical specialty areas of physical therapy, such as orthopedics, sports, and geriatrics. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and completing clinical work in the specialty area.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physical therapists must clearly explain treatment programs, motivate patients, and listen to patients’ concerns in order to provide effective therapy.

Compassion. Physical therapists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, so they should have a desire to help people. They work with people who are in pain and must have empathy for their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare providers, physical therapists should have strong analytic and observational skills to diagnose a patient’s problem, evaluate treatments, and provide safe, effective care.

Dexterity. Physical therapists must use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They should feel comfortable massaging and otherwise physically assisting patients.

Physical stamina. Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, moving to demonstrate proper techniques and to help patients perform exercises. They should enjoy physical activity.

Resourcefulness. Physical therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be flexible and adapt plans of care to meet the needs of each patient.

Time-management skills. Physical therapists typically treat several patients each day. They must be able to provide appropriate care to patients as well as complete administrative tasks, such as documenting patient progress.

Thrive in a Growing Field

The future of physical therapy is brighter than ever. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report states that employment of physical therapists is predicted to grow 21% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

According to the BLS, the increased demand can be attributed partly to the large number of aging baby boomers, who are staying more active later in life than their counterparts in previous generations. Older people are more likely to experience heart attacks, strokes and mobility-related injuries that require physical therapy for rehabilitation.

Job Opportunities

Students in the Physical Therapy lab

Graduates of our doctor of physical therapy program will be trained to find employment as physical therapists in:

  • Acute care centers
  • Independent outpatient orthopedic clinics
  • Rehabilitation centers/clinics
  • Skilled care facilities
  • Sports medicine clinics
  • Home health settings

First, physical therapists evaluate a patient and examine his or her medical records. Then, they plan and execute rehabilitative programs designed to improve the patient’s mobility, increase his or her strength and relieve or at least lessen his or her pain. Treatment plans often include different exercises and stretches, as well as hands-on therapies and machines that assist with improving muscle strength, range of motion and motor function.

The job also includes educating the patient – or members of the patient’s support system – on the recovery process. Physical therapists will also consult with other health care professionals, including

Eric Robertson, the director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education, says he first learned about the profession at age 15, when he was involved in a motocross accident. He required physical therapy, and over the next 10 months of rehab, he got to know his therapist really well, and the field appealed to him. “Physical therapy is a real safe, happy approach,” he says. “It offers a meaningful and positive alternative to pharmaceuticals or surgery.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20.5 percent employment growth for physical therapists between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 49,100 jobs should open up.

Many doctors refer patients with physical issues from athletic injuries to neurological traumas to physical therapists. These professionals come to the rescue after a stress fracture sidelines a runner, when an awkward slide into home base benches a softball player or after a stroke keeps a person bedridden.First, physical therapists evaluate a patient and examine his or her medical records. Then, they plan and execute rehabilitative programs designed to improve the patient’s mobility, increase his or her strength and relieve or at least lessen his or her pain. Treatment plans often include different exercises and stretches, as well as hands-on therapies and machines that assist with improving muscle strength, range of motion and motor function.The job also includes educating the patient – or members of the patient’s support system – on the recovery process. Physical therapists will also consult with other health care professionals, including physicians occupational therapists and clinical social workers , to offer a patient the best, most holistic care possible.Eric Robertson, the director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education, says he first learned about the profession at age 15, when he was involved in a motocross accident. He required physical therapy, and over the next 10 months of rehab, he got to know his therapist really well, and the field appealed to him. “Physical therapy is a real safe, happy approach,” he says. “It offers a meaningful and positive alternative to pharmaceuticals or surgery.”The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20.5 percent employment growth for physical therapists between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 49,100 jobs should open up.

Future of Physical Therapy Industry

Looking for a career path with a good outlook, stable pay, and accessible opportunities, all while bringing purpose in your life? You should consider a job in the field of physical therapy!

Culture & Benefits Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are licensed clinicians who work hands-on with patients that have sustained an injury or chronic health condition. Through their life-changing services, they help patients from every walk of life recover and live pain-free, boundless lives. 

Physical therapists do this through a variety of means, including prevention (through strengthening and stretching exercises), movement experts, hands-on treatment, patient education, and a wide range of injury recovery options. Physical therapists work with people of all ages and in many different settings, such as hospitals, sports facilities, and clinics. 

CORA Physical Therapy is one of the industry’s fastest-growing brands and also one of its largest employers, with hundreds of clinics ranging from the southern tip of Florida to the shores of the Great Lakes in Wisconsin.

Outlook and Opportunity

The career outlook for physical therapists and occupational therapists is bright. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for physical therapists is projected to grow by 21% before 2030, which is much faster than the 8% average growth rate across all U.S. occupations.

The demand for physical therapy is growing for many reasons, but here are two of the most important factors:

1. Sedentary Lifestyles: With the growth of office jobs comes a rapid increase of people working at a desk for eight hours per day, whether that’s at home or in the office. As of 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were nearly 64 million office workers in the U.S., and it is estimated that 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025.

Office workers are known to be less active than their worksite counterparts, are more prone to slips, trips, and falls; and can be just as prone to overuse injuries related to the repetitive nature of their work. The best and most economical way to prevent or recover from these injuries can be physical therapy. Increasingly, worker healthcare plans are recognizing the efficiency of using physical therapy as a way to keep the workforce working.

2. Aging Populations: Baby boomers, the second largest generation, are getting older, and many are looking to prolong their independence and quality of life. Physical therapy is key to achieving these objectives, as it empowers individuals to maintain mobility and prevent injury. 

Physical therapy jobs are also continually available due to the nationwide expansion of the field. In fact, the unemployment rate for physical therapists is a mere 0.2%. 

More clinics and other facilities are opening all across America, thus inviting more employees. CORA Physical Therapy currently has more than 400 positions open at clinics across 11 states. 

Professional Advantages

One thing that sets physical therapy apart from other medical tracks is the favorable education requirements. 

Completion of a DPT program is required, which typically involves seven years of schooling. While a medical doctor may need 11-15 years of post-secondary education, the physical therapy track is much more efficient for starting your career. 

This means less time spent in the classroom, typically accruing less student debt.

Job Satisfaction

A career in physical therapy is one with a promising need and measurable benefits – but it also provides the intangible aspect of job satisfaction. By becoming a physical therapist, you’re changing lives for the better, prolonging independence, relieving pain, reaching goals, and improve the quality of life for others. 

As cited by many professionals in the field, physical therapy is an extremely gratifying and fulfilling career. 

“I became a physical therapist because of the quality of life impact I can have on my patients,” said Caitlin Whitely, PT, DPT and CORA South County clinic manager. “I love when my patient does something for the first time in years, returning to their favorite hobby feeling healthy and pain-free. This is why I come to work every day, and I’m glad to have that alignment of support from everyone at CORA.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, a physical therapist is the 10th best healthcare job available, based on a confluence of factors like unemployment rates, median salary and stress level. 

Why CORA is a Great Place to Work for Current and Future Physical Therapists

So, you’re a fresh out of PT school or currently working in physical therapy. What are you waiting for? Join the CORA team! 

CORA stands alone in the field of physical therapy, with state-of-the-art technology, rapid expansion and career growth, and hundreds of locations. With new locations opening every month, we have a constant need for more people like you.

Multiple locations: a Multitude of Opportunities

Wherever you are studying, working, or living, there is a CORA clinic in reach. CORA operates more than 250 locations and in multiple states: Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. 

Whether you prefer the southeast or midwest, a job at CORA is possible in your community.

A focus for every professional

You can pursue your interests in physical therapy at CORA. At CORA, a full range of treatments is available. Our services include outpatient physical therapy and general rehabilitation, rehabilitation for seniors, worker’s compensation therapy, and sports and auto injury rehabilitation. There’s a place for you at CORA, wherever your passions in PT may lie. 

Staff treatment and experience

At CORA, not only are our patients cared for, but the entire CORA community, including our staff. Educational opportunities, such as advanced degrees and certifications, are often funded for our exceptional clinicians. 

Additionally, CORA is consistent in the integrity of their facilities, services, and team members. 

For referrals, CORA uses the quick, practical, and effective “Rapid Referral” program. Rapid Referral allows for patient evaluations to be completed within 48-hours, efficiently entering admissions and forwarding authorizations. In short, it takes away administrative work and keeps you with patients longer. 

CORA’s eNotes, a digital EMR platform, allows for patient information to be accessed securely and in real-time. Every process within eNotes, whether you are referring a patient or signing evaluations, is simple, fast, and HIPAA-approved. 

CORA doesn’t just deliver top-of-the-line treatment for patients, but a phenomenal working experience for every employee, one that you truly can’t find anywhere else. There’s no better place to pursue your career as a physical therapist than at CORA Physical Therapy. 

Learn about Career Options at CORA

Check out our Jobs Portal today! 

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