Physical Therapist Career Outlook
If you enjoy helping people then you may be interested in a career as a physical therapist. Physical therapists help people who have physical disabilities which interfere with their ability to move or function normally. The role of a physical therapist is to assess the injury or disability and then create a plan to help each individual reduce pain and restore normal function where possible.
As a physical therapist you will get to work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. You may specialize in certain types of issues – such as back injuries or sports-related injuries. You may need to work with other professionals, such as occupational therapists or social workers to develop an appropriate plan.
The work of a physical therapist can be quite demanding, so it is important that you are physically fit before you consider this type of job. You may have to lift heavy equipment and also assist patients regularly so it’s important you do this carefully so you don’t hurt yourself.
In 2008, there were approximately 185,500 physical therapist jobs in the United States, and through 2018 it is expected that the number of jobs will increase by 30% – significantly higher than the national average for all jobs. About 60% of physical therapists worked in hospitals or in the offices of different types of health practitioners, and the rest worked in various areas including home health care and outpatient centers.
It is expected that the majority of growth in the need for physical therapists will be driven by the aging baby boomer population, who will be in need of physical therapy services as they age. Technological advances in neo-natal care are also expected to increase the need for physical rehabilitation for premature and high-risk babies.
Overall, the job prospects for those who train to become physical therapists are very good. It is expected that opportunities will be higher in areas that deal more with the elderly, such as in acute care hospitals or nursing homes. Additionally there will be increased job opportunities in rural areas, as more physical therapists choose to work in urban centers.
While it takes a few years to become a physical therapist, if you already have a bachelor’s degree and have mastered most science aspects then you are already most of the way there. With just a bit more training you can be ready to work as a physical therapist and reap the rewards.
With some hard work and a dedication to helping others you can advance in the field of physical therapy. Some physical therapists will choose to continue their training in a certain area, so they can become licensed as a specialist. Others may choose to open their own practice, or offer on-call services to their patients. Still others may be perfectly happy where they are. When you are qualified to work as a physical therapist you have a lot of options.
Still not convinced? Perhaps you should talk to a physical therapist in your area and find out what their job is like. Ask them about their training, and any recommendations they may have about which programs to attend. They may even let you shadow them for a few hours so you can see exactly what they do. It’s a good idea to know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you start.
Physical therapists get to help people move around better, and can increase their quality of life. This is a great occupation if you like working with people, and if you want to be employable in nearly any city in the United States and beyond.