Physical Therapy Schools
Physical Therapy offers many exciting career opportunities, but it can be a challenge finding the right education and the right job for you. PTSchools.com is an online resource to help you make informed decisions about programs, pathways, and careers in physical therapy. Weíre here to help you find and compare schools, explore jobs and specializations, read current articles and research salaries.
What do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists diagnose and treat people of all ages with medical or health conditions that limit their mobility and make it difficult for them to perform normal daily activities. This includes evaluating patients and developing a custom treatment plan that helps them meet their goals and needs. Common goals of physical therapy include pain reduction, improved mobility, injury prevention, and increased endurance, strength, and balance. Physical therapists also help develop wellness plans to help people live healthier and more active lives. As a physical therapist, you help patients meet their full potential.
Physical Therapy Programs
Many accredited schools offer physical therapy programs, from the certificate level up to doctoral degree programs. The type of program that fits your needs depends on a variety of factors about you, your lifestyle, your dreams, and your desire to work through different levels of the school curriculum. Physical therapy students study subjects mainly based in science, including anatomy, biology, biomechanics and exercise physiology. Classes include behavioral science topics such as reasoning and evidence-based practice methods, along with lab instruction and clinical experience under a supervisor. Your curriculum can vary based on the degree pursued and the school.
What Degree Do I Need?
Most physical therapy jobs require a degree from an accredited program. Some people choose to gain exposure to the field by taking a job as a physical therapy aide. This position involves supporting physical therapists and physical therapy assistants in the day-to-day activities of their jobs. Physical therapy aides learn on the job and do not require a degree.
Physical therapy assistants must complete at least two years of schooling in an accredited program. The program should culminate in an Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science degree. Physical therapy assistants must pass a national exam and fulfill any state-specific requirements before taking a job in their field. Additionally, all states require a license and some may require continuing education throughout the span of your career. Some physical therapy assistants chose to spend two more years in school, obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Physical therapists must complete a one-to-two year master’s program in addition to a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited school. Some students choose to specialize or take their education further with a doctorate degree in specific areas of physical therapy.
Earning Prospects in the Physical Therapy Field
Physical therapy careers provide a fairly wide array of earning prospects. To some degree, you can tailor your career to fit a schedule that requires flexible work hours or part-time employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presents average salary information for different careers in physical therapy, arranged by factors such as job type, geographic location, education level and type of employer such as a hospital, assisted living facility or private physical therapist practice.
The BLS statistics show that physical therapists earn a mean hourly wage of $37.50 per hour, or about $77,900 annually. Full time wages, on average, vary from $53,620 annually to $107,920 per year. This amount varies with factors such as the type of employment facility and geographic location.
Physical therapy assistants work very closely with physical therapists to help patients with their treatment plans. Almost one-third of physical therapy assistants work part-time schedules. Physical therapy assistants earn hourly wages ranging from $14.94 to $33.09, with about half earning wages at an hourly median of $23.89. Home health care pays the highest wages to physical therapy assistants, with workers earning slightly more than $59,000 annually.
Physical therapy aides provide support for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants, as well as supporting the office administrative functions. This position can introduce people to the field of physical therapy before they start their formal education. Learning happens on the job, and physical therapy aides can earn from $8.30 to $16.67 hourly, with an average hourly pay of $12.02.
Will Jobs Be Available When I Graduate?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapy services is on the rise and employment is expected to grow more quickly than the average. Job prospects for both physical therapists and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are very good. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the current unemployment rate for physical therapists is 3.9%.
The BLS predicts growth to remain strong for the next several years. Job growth in the physical therapy field has outpaced all other fields over the last few years, with the BLS projecting increases of 30 percent growth in new physical therapist jobs from 2008 to 2018. The driver behind this growth? The aging population of baby boomers, who are staying well longer and spending less time in hospitals. With improved medical treatment techniques, patients are working with physical therapists to regain their health and mobility more quickly. Additionally, as insurance reimbursements change to reflect this evolution, more insurers provide payment for physical therapy, and a new federal mandate requires access to physical therapy services for school-aged disabled individuals.
Physical therapy assistants are in high demand as well, with a projected 38 percent growth over the next 10 years — even more growth than that projected for physical therapists. This also bodes well for those wishing to gain exposure to the field as physical therapy aides, with these jobs expected to grow along with the demand for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.
The physical therapy field presents many rewarding career opportunities and could be exactly what you are seeking. Let us help you find your perfect career in physical therapy. Your future begins here and now!