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Career Q&A: Physical Therapist

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

Physical therapists help people with mobility problems get on their feet again after sickness or injury. They use exercises and special equipment to help patients get stronger and move better. The goal is for people to take care of themselves in their homes and, if possible, return to their regular activities.

Physical therapists note progress and change the routine as needed. Physical therapists mainly work in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Others do most of their work with athletes, kids, people with heart problems or older people.

What training will I need and how can I get it?

In high school, science and physical education are a good background for a future physical therapist. Because physical therapists must communicate with many people about a patient’s progress about a patient’s progress, writing and speech are also good courses to take. Some teens volunteer to help their school athletic trainers.

More on Physical Therapists

Salary: $46,510 - $94,810
Min. Education: Master's
Related Careers: Occupational Therapist, Social Worker

Becoming a physical therapist requires a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree in physical therapy. Students start with basic classes such as biology and chemistry. As they progress, they take classes about diseases, how to examine a patient and how to work with patients. At the end of training, students must pass a national exam to get their physical therapy license.

What will I get paid?

Starting salaries for physical therapists are higher than many other health jobs. The average salary for a physical therapist is about $60,000. The lowest 10% of salaries are less than $42,000, and the highest 10% are more than $88,000. Salary sometimes depends on where the physical therapist works. Those who work for home health care services make slightly more than those who work in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes.

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