Physical Therapist

Ben Kunkel

Description of Occupation

Physical therapists assess patients and create plans to help patients get back to their original physical state. They then evaluate the effects of their plans to adjust them and maximize positive results. Physical therapists also test patients on their abilities to do their plans, and test them in many different areas such as strength and motor skills. They also help to try and prevent problems caused by disease or injury.

Certifications Necessary

Physical therapists entering the profession need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed. You must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Several states also require a background and criminal check.

Daily Activities

  • Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors or surgeons
  • Diagnose patients and set up plans for them
  • Use exercise machines and provide therapy for patients
  • Evaluate patients and design new plans for them

Education Requirements

DPT programs typically last 3 years. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as specific prerequisites, such as anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. The programs usually require an undergraduate GPA for entrance, such as a 3.0.


The median annual wage for physical therapists was $79,860 in May 2012.

Necessary Skills

Applying heat and cold and using assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers and equipment, such as adhesive electrodes which apply electric stimulation to treat injuries and pain. Must be able to very social and be able to interact with all types of people. Know how to make plans for patients and evaluate them.

Practice Settings

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists33%

Hospitals; state, local, and private28

Home health care services11

Nursing and residential care facilities7

Offices of physicians5

3 Fun Facts

  • They spend most of their time on their feet, working with patients.
  • There are projected to be 73,500 more physical therapy jobs by 2022
  • Employment is projected to grow 36% by 2022