What Types of Jobs are Available as a Physical Therapist?

Physical TherapyThe types of jobs available as a physical therapist depend largely on your own interests as a health care professional. You can undergo training for different specializations in physical therapy, but you can also work in a general setting to provide care to dozens of different patients at a time. According to U.S. News and World Report's list of the 100 Best Jobs in America, physical therapist ranks sixth overall. The median salary is around $81,000, and jobs in this field will grow 36 percent by 2022. If you're curious about the jobs that are out there for PTs, then consider the following options.

Hospital Health Care

Some physical therapists work in hospitals to offer intensive rehabilitative care for patients recovering from traumatic situations or major surgeries. Hospital PT departments generally feature a staff of rotating physical therapists, which means that patients may receive care from more than one therapist during the course of treatment. The benefit to working in a hospital setting is that the hours will most likely follow those of the hospital's, making it a flexible option for people with scheduling concerns.

Private Practice Options

You might think of physical therapists in the context of hospitals, but more than 80 percent of PTs work in other settings including private practice. The American Physical Therapy Association outlines some of the more common career options for physical therapists as follows:

  • Outpatient clinics or private practices
  • Sports, fitness and wellness centers
  • Occupational or workplace environments
  • Home health care and Hospice
  • Rehabilitation hospitals
  • Sub-acute rehabilitation facilities
  • Extended care centers, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities
  • Government facilities for civilians and military personnel
  • Educational settings such as preschools and vocational schools
  • Research facilities

Depending on your training, abilities and comfort level with different patients, you could choose a career that included one or several of these locations or settings. For example, your knowledge of sports physical therapy could come in handy for a job with a local gym, government agency serving veterans, a college athletics program or an occupational setting. You don't have to work in a hospital to practice physical therapy.

PT Disciplines and Specialties

If the idea of working with a wide range of patients doesn't appeal to you, then consider the fact that physical therapists can choose their patients on a one-to-one basis. Like all medical professions, physical therapy offers a wide range of disciplines and specialties. While many physical therapists work generally to improve mobility and promote long-term wellness goals, you can choose to specialize in different areas. For example, pelvic floor therapy addresses issues such as incontinence, pelvic pain and muscle issues related to reproductive health in men and women. Physical therapy can also be used to help treat patients after specific surgeries for conditions such as carpal tunnel or hip replacement.

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With an aging Baby Boomer generation and more stressful careers taking a physical toll on today's workers, the demand for physical therapists over the next decade will increase substantially. This particular field within the larger medical community offers a rewarding career for those who like to work with people and see real results in their patients. If you're interested in the types of jobs available as a physical therapist, then rest assured that many options exist today within this unique health care profession.

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