PTs typically work in the offices of other health practitioners or in hospitals. Home health care agencies and nursing and residential care facilities employ many others. Some are self employed.
In addition to the formal qualifications described previously, you will not be successful in this occupation if you don't have certain traits. Good dexterity will allow you to perform manual therapy. Physical stamina will let you stand on your feet and move around a lot, as will be required. Dealing with people who are in pain requires compassion and good interpersonal skills. Finally, you must have strong analytical and observational skills in order to diagnose patients' problems and evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment you administer.
In 2011, physical therapists earned a median annual salary of $78,270. During the same time period, median hourly wages were $37.63.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much physical therapists currently earn in your city.
A Day in a Physical Therapist's Life:
On a typical day a physical therapist will:
- examine patients' medical histories
- test and measure patients' strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration and motor function
- determine whether a patient is able to be independent and reintegrate into the community or workplace after injury or illness
- develop treatment plans describing a treatment strategy, its purpose and its anticipated outcome
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Physical Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm (visited August 28, 2012).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Physical Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/29-1123.00 (visited August 28, 2012).