Health Careers >> Browse Articles >> Occupational Therapy

Health Careers >> Browse Articles >> Physical Therapy / Fitness


VA Offers Unique Opportunities to Therapy Professionals

VA Offers Unique Opportunities to Therapy Professionals

John Rossheim / Monster Senior Contributing Writer

“We have occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, blind rehabilitation specialists and prosthetists,” Wheeler says. Therapy and rehab teams at the Providence and other VA facilities also include OT assistants, orthotists, physical therapists and PT assistants.

In fall 2006, the Providence VA was treating about a half-dozen Iraq veterans as outpatients. The VA also provides psychological and psychiatric treatment mostly to the more than 250,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

As more war-wounded servicemen and women work their way through the military healthcare system — especially at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center — they will transition to the VA healthcare system in greater numbers. “We’re going to be looking for PTs with knowledge of amputees and polytrauma,” Wheeler says. These patients will provide great professional challenges to the VA workers who treat them, he says.

VA healthcare workers can seek advancement through promotion or advanced training. “If you want to go higher, you can take on a leadership role,” says Park. You can also bolster your qualifications by furthering your education and getting additional certifications, often with VA financial help.

“When I came here eight years ago, I was astounded at the educational opportunities,” says Wheeler, who has taken at least a half-dozen continuing-education courses, including a weeklong seminar on the care and treatment of war-wounded amputees with prosthetics.

Compensation and Benefits

Pay at VA medical facilities is good, not great. “We can’t be a pay leader, but we are competitive,” Park says.

A listing for a physical therapist at the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System in California offered a salary of $47,024 to $67,137. By contrast, median pay for all physical therapists in nearby San Bernardino was $67,676, according to, eclipsing the top of the pay range for the VA position.

However, VA jobs come with benefits that generally exceed those offered in the private sector, including generous vacation and sick days as well as a defined-benefit retirement plan.

AllHealthcare School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use AllHealthcare's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.