Physical Therapy Jobs
Are there jobs available? Discover the wide range of jobs and specializations available to physical therapists, including sports, orthopaedic, geriatric, neurologic, and pediatric
After College What Kind of PT Jobs Are Available?
Physical therapy is a dynamic, growing field that promises to deliver over 50,000 new physical therapist jobs from 2008 to 2018, and over 35,000 new jobs in the same period for physical therapist assistants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many physical therapy, or PT, jobs require a college-level education. Available jobs after college depend on what type of degree was obtained, and to some degree, whether the student chose any special focus during his or her educational program.
After preparing for a career in physical therapy by completing the educational requirements for a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, several job options and paths are available. These include working in a physician’s office, performing home health care services or providing care in a specialty hospital. Some physical therapists may also choose to go into research. An example of a research position is the following job opening listed by the University of Southern California. The University is looking to hire physical therapists as clinical research evaluators to assess and evaluate the outcome of various tests for arm rehabilitation in patients who have suffered a stroke. In this particular job, physical therapists receive paid training specific to the study, and work alongside with study investigators and other researchers. The physical therapist must pass a standardization test before starting to work with subjects in the study, and must have experience working with stroke victims.
Physical therapists may also choose to work as clinical faculty in a hospital setting. This type of position requires a doctoral degree in physical therapy and at least two years of experience in the field. This type of job includes direct care of patients, including assessments, planning of treatments in cooperation with the interdisciplinary team, and working in an academic medical center. This position also provides opportunities for research, lectures, program development and mentoring.
PT jobs require the highest level of education and the PT field. To obtain a job as a PT requires at least a baccalaureate or master’s degree and many students are choosing to spend a few extra years to obtain a doctorate. PT jobs also require passing a state exam. A startingThe American Physical Therapy Association is an online resource that provides job listings and other resources for new graduates and experienced PTs and PT assistants exploring career options.
According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, the largest numbers of physical therapists go to work in the offices of other health practitioners. This includes the office of chiropractors, audiologists, physical, occupational and speech therapists. The second largest employer for PTs is general medical and surgical hospitals. A PT job in a hospital setting requires evaluation, planning and administration of treatments to patients. Patients typically have disabilities, injuries or diseases and treatments are planned according to orders from the patient’s physician. The PT will be responsible for identifying the patient’s needs, managing the patient’s care, monitoring delivery of care, working as part of a team with other hospital professionals and acting as a teacher or professor resource for students and related staff. Jobs may require a PT to be familiar with aspects of the regulatory environment such as “The Physical Therapy Practice Act and Regulations of the Physical Therapy Examining Committee,” JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and additional regulatory requirements. The job will require state licensing and BLS, or basic life support, certification.
The third largest employer of physical therapist is Home Health Care services. PTs working in home health care may be able to choose their coverage areas and caseload. Benefits of working in home health care include flexible part-time or full-time hours, an ongoing, consistent caseload of patients and training and mentorship for new graduates. PTs may work for a home health care department of a hospital, an independent home health care company, or they may work independently, finding their own clients.
Other employers for PTs include nursing homes, residential homes, other nursing care facilities, and offices of medical doctors.
Physical Therapy Assistants
The majority of physical therapy assistant jobs require a two-year associate degree from an accredited school. Licensing is also required in most states. PT assistants also need to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license status.
Employment for PT assistants is most often found in the offices of other health care practitioners, similar to PTs. Other health practitioners include chiropractors, physical, speech and occupational therapists, audiologists and mental health practitioners. New graduates will be required to have fulfilled the requirements to obtain a PT assistant state license. Jobs may provide full-time or part-time hours.
The second largest employer for PT assistants is general medical and surgical hospitals. According to current employment listings, employers such as Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, CA look for PT assistants that have completed an accredited PT assistant school program have completed required licensing requirements for the state of California and obtained a BLS certificate. Some positions may require one to two years experience, while some positions hire new graduates. Applicants are required to be able to lift, push or pull up to 100 pounds on intermittent basis; must be able to stoop, bend, stand, sit and walk with no restrictions.
Nursing care facilities and home health care provide the third largest number of jobs for PT assistants. According to Loma Linda University Medical Center’s current job openings, the hospital hires PT assistants for its Home Health Care department with an Associate of Arts or Science degree, state-required licensing and BLS certification. The hospital hires new graduates and those with one year of experience. CompHealth, a healthcare-staffing firm, hires new graduates for skilled nursing facilities and provides newly hired graduates with a mentorship program.