How to Get a Job as a Physical Therapist
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, vice president for education, governance and administration at the American Physical Therapy Association. Starting the job hunt while still in school is key, she says. That’s where you should narrow the type of patients you’d like to treat, be they orthopedic, pediatric, geriatric or another demographic, and identify 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.
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Physical Therapists
"How would you handle a patient with a diagnosis that you were unfamiliar with?" - Northridge Hospital Medical Center Staff Physical Therapist Candidate (Northridge, CA)
"How many years long term care experience do you have?" - SunDance Rehabilitation Physical Therapist Assistant Candidate (Markleysburg, PA)
"Are you a team player?"- Sun Healthcare Physical Therapist Candidate (Tulsa, OK)
|Upward Mobility||poor Below Average|
|Stress Level||good Below Average|
|Flexibility||good Above Average|
What is the Job Like?
It goes without saying, but physical therapy is, well, physical. That means lots of patient interaction, and a need for strong interpersonal skills. It also means plenty of physical activity, including long stretches of activity, carrying heavy equipment and lifting patients or helping them stand or walk. Therapists often work in hospitals or clinics, but there’s a wide range of opportunities for a more flexible schedule. A sizeable chunk of therapists work part time.
Last updated by Kirk Shinkle.