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Physical Therapist Job Description

Physical therapists are also known as PTs, and they help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage pain.

Frequently, they help patients during their treatment or rehabilitation after injuries or chronic conditions.

They also work to help people prevent such conditions and issues.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do

Compared to other similar professions in the healthcare industry, physical therapists usually have a higher payment.

The reasons for this are tiring and stressful job nature as well as multiple responsibilities they have.

However, for the right person, this position can be the most rewarding and satisfying experience.

Physical Therapist duties

Responsibilities of a Physical Therapist

  • Evaluating and interpreting test results, and meeting the patient’s goals and needs.
  • Consulting with physicians, social workers, nurses, and other health practicians.
  • Identifying and developing treatment plans and providing high-quality care.
  • Aiding patients with accepting therapeutic devices and follow their treatment plans.
  • Assisting, instructing, and encouraging patients in their physical activities.
  • Helping patients with non-manual, functional, and ambulatory activities.
  • Performing massages and helping patients with manual exercises.
  • Helping patients restore their day-to-day activities.
  • Applying physical agents and initiating traction, using whirlpool baths and hydrotherapy tanks.
  • Helping patients handle supportive devices such as canes, crutches, and prostheses.
  • Utilizing infrared and ultraviolet lamps, moist packs, ultrasound machines.
  • Assessing and evaluating the effects of physical therapy.
  • Advising the required adjustments and modifications, and fitting prosthetic and orthotic devices.
  • Observing, evaluating, and recording a patient’s progress and deciding on their discharge plan.
  • Developing home exercises and instructing patients on how to keep up with their therapy.
  • Prescribing supportive equipment and ambulatory programs.
  • Recording, charting and taking care of the department and patient care.
  • Protecting the hospital’s operations and patient confidentiality.
  • Following the procedures, rules, and regulations.
  • Complying with the infection control policies and keeping a safe and clean environment.
  • Adhering to the maintenance requirements, taking care of malfunctions, following instructions, and organizing repairs.
  • Applying professional and technical knowledge.
  • Keeping up with professional publications and attending educational events.
  • Taking part in professional communities and maintains relations and participate in the conferences on patient care.
  • Training and educating the physical therapy staff.
  • Investing in team efforts and directing treatments given by technicians, aides, and assistants.
  • Being aware of required legislation and following local, state, and federal regulations.
  • Directing management to the right decisions under particular circumstances.

Essential Skills

Like most professionals in the healthcare area, physical therapists need particular skills and qualifications.

The skills required for different positions vary.

For instance, pediatric physical therapist qualities are different from the orthopedic physical therapist.

Field knowledge:

A physical therapist should be deeply knowledgeable in physiology.

They have to maintain and promote health.

They also should be able to create a safe and efficient work environment and work in such.

Quality is the most essential component of the job.

Organizational skills:

To be successful on the job, a physical therapist needs to be highly organized and detail-oriented.

They also should comply with the legal system.

Interpersonal skills:

Physical therapists should have excellent interpersonal skills and be compassionate.

They should have the ability to motivate and persuade people.

Physical skills:

Physical therapists should be in a good physical state and have stamina.

To meet the requirements of the job, they should also have great dexterity and be highly energetic.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

The job of a physical therapist is highly rewarding and satisfying.

They deal with multiple tasks from helping patients manage pain after an accident or helping a person after a stroke to regain the ability to move.

To be good at their job, physical therapists should have a high level of compassion.

Interpersonal and communication skills are also important for them to connect with people.

Read more: How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

Training and Qualifications

Aspiring physical therapists should have a good educational background.

They need some advanced degree, typically a Master of Physical Therapy or a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

However, first, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in the doctoral program.

Usually, it lasts about three years.

Besides, it is required in all states for the physical therapists to have a license.

For this, they need to pass the NPTE (National Physical Therapist Examination).

Physical therapists can also receive on-the-job training after completing all years of education.


The experience greatly influences the salary and employment opportunities of a physical therapist.

Surely, the more experience you have, the higher your chances are to get a job with a more prestigious employer.

With multiple years of experience working as a physical therapist, you have higher chances to obtain a better position.

The salary of a physical therapist is influenced by experience, and according to PayScale, it can grow on average by $20,000 over 20 years of experience.

Another thing a physical therapist may require with experience is an assistant.

Some hire an assistant early in their career, others need one as they grow older and require help to provide care.

Work Hours

The schedule of a physical therapist is usually full-time, but part-time work is also possible.

The usual shift is 8 am-5 pm., although some professionals may provide care in several shifts.

Some work early in the morning, from 6 am to 2 pm, others may choose 10 am to 6 pm.

In some hospitals or nursing homes, physical therapy may be provided on the weekends.

Therefore, physical therapists may have to work on weekends or holidays with a changing schedule.

Career Outlook and Opportunities

The median salary of a physical therapist is $85,400 per year with $41.06 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mostly, they work at clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, or private offices.

Most of their day, they work on their feet, providing care for patients and helping them recover.

Physical therapists’ employment rate is expected to grow by 34% until 2024.

This rate is a lot faster than the average rate for all occupations in the US.

Due to a few factors, this is abnormally fast growth.

One of the reasons is a constantly growing elderly population, specifically baby boomers.

They are in need of physical therapy.

The population tends to stay active longer in life, so physical therapists are in high demand.

Another factor that has a significant impact on the demand for physical therapists is the tide mobility caused by diabetes and obesity.

Physical therapists are most commonly employed in residential and nursing care facilities, health practitioners’ offices, home health care services, and hospitals.


The physical therapy profession is one of the best-paid among other therapists.

Today, they are becoming a necessity for many people.

For healthcare workers, the physical therapist’s job is one of the favorites with its high levels of satisfaction.

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