(7.9 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||77,400|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#5|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#8|
Thanks in part to an aging population, the medical professionals who plan and execute rehabilitative programs designed to improve patient mobility and lessen pain are in high demand. As one of the 185,440 physical therapists in the United States, you might work in a clinic, hospital, or private office, and your patients could include an injured soldier, an aging athlete, or a recent accident victim. It's your job to test and measure their coordination, muscle strength, range of motion, and motor function. You may consult with other medical-care providers, including physicians, occupational therapists, and social workers. Job opportunities look good in the field, and employment is expected to grow much faster than average thanks to rising demand for such services among older baby boomers.
By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects physical therapist employment growth of 39 percent, with the field adding 77,400 more jobs. Thanks to good job opportunities and higher-than-average pay, physical therapists earn a spot on this year's list of Best Jobs.
The BLS reports the median annual wage for a physical therapist was $78,270 in 2011. The best-paid 10 percent of workers in the category made approximately $110,670, while the bottom 10 percent made approximately $54,710. The highest wages are found in physician offices or hospitals. By location, many of the highest-paid positions are clustered in Texas in the metropolitan areas of McAllen, El Paso, and Midland.
At a minimum, you'll need a master's degree and a state license to become a practicing therapist. Many students currently pursue a doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT), and new graduates taking the national licensure examination in the field after 2017 will be required to hold such a degree. Most doctoral programs take three years, compared with two or two and a half for a master's. Many licenses also require continuing education in order to stay certified.
On-the-job internships are a required part of any physical therapist's training, and experts say that’s the place to make the connections that will land you a job. "It's a unique opportunity for students to pay attention to what they like or don't like" about the job or a particular type of practice, says Janet Bezner, deputy executive director of the American Physical Therapy Association. Starting the job hunt while still in school is key, she says, as is narrowing the type of patients you'd like to treat, be they orthopedic, pediatric, geriatric, or another demographic, as well as the size and style of practice that will best suit you. She also advises applicants to highlight other skills in addition to their PT education and training. For example, Bezner notes a variety of skills, from a Pilates certification to an MBA, can add something extra when joining a practice. Plus, she says the current environment favors the job-seeker, so applicants have more room to tailor their job hunt to their own specifications.
|Upward Mobility||Below Average|
|Stress Level||Below Average|
Last updated by Kirk Shinkle.