Physical Therapist Job Description

Physical therapists are doctors who help people get better and feel less pain. They help people move better.

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Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who help patients restore mobility and manage pain. They develop individualized treatment plans to meet patients' unique needs.


Physical therapists must earn a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program. Advancement opportunities include becoming a medical director for a physical therapy department or owning their own private practice. To practice, physical therapists need state licensure. Licensure processes vary by state.


Physical therapists also need strong interpersonal and communication skills to educate patients, other health care providers, and families on the physical therapy process.


Physical therapists treat a range of conditions affecting mobility including:

  • Orthopedic disabilities such as low back pain or arthritis
  • Neurological impairments due to stroke, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries
  • Neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
  • Sports injuries and other musculoskeletal problems
  • Congenital impairments


Treatments include:

  • Exercises and other gentle movements to improve range of motion, strength, endurance, and balance
  • Injury-prevention techniques such as heat or cold therapy
  • Aquatic exercises for people with arthritis or limited mobility due to spinal cord injuries


Physical therapists often work in private practices. They also work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and schools.


Physical therapists have one of the most physically demanding jobs. They often spend entire days on their feet doing strenuous exercises with patients or getting up and down to help lift them during therapy sessions. Many travel from place to place for work assignments. The work can also be emotionally draining, especially when a patient doesn't respond to therapy.


Physical therapists often work long hours to meet patient demands. Schedules vary by location and type of employment. Work weeks usually include nights, weekends and holidays as needed. Physical therapists who own their own practices may have irregular hours depending on the demands of their private patients.


Physical therapists must be able to lift and move patients, including those who weigh hundreds of pounds. They may need to assist patients getting in and out of cars or wheelchairs. Physical therapists must be able to stand for long periods or walk around with a cane, crutches or other assistive devices for mobility support.


Physical therapists often work in noisy, high-stress environments and must be able to concentrate on patient treatment plans despite outside distractions.


Physical therapists should enjoy helping others, have a caring personality and like working with people.

Statistics on Physical Therapists

  • Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. (
  • The lowest 10 percent earned less than $63,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,780. (
  • Although many physical therapists practice in hospitals, more than 80% practice in other settings, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). (

Articles On Physical Therapists


Becoming a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists help people live healthy and active lives. Are you ready to be a PT? (


Physical Therapists: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain. (


Physical Therapist  

First, physical therapists evaluate a patient and examine his or her medical records. Then, they plan and execute rehabilitative programs designed to improve the  (


Physical Therapist

Physical therapists treat individuals of all ages with medical or other health problems that limit their abilities to move and perform daily activities. (


Physical therapy - Wikipedia (


Physical Therapists (


Physical Therapists at My Next Move (


Learn Physical Therapy Basics (


Physical therapist-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy: a qualitative study of physical therapists' perceptions and experiences - PubMed

Physical therapists can be trained to confidently deliver a PCST program. The physical therapists in this study believed that training enhanced their clinical practice. Comprehensive training and mentoring by psychologists was crucial to ensure treatment fidelity. (

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