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Become A Clinical Therapist

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Working As A Clinical Therapist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Clinical Therapist Do

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Duties

Physical therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods
  • Develop individualized plans of care for patients, outlining the patients’ goals and the expected outcomes of the plans
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain, help them increase their mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness
  • Evaluate and record a patient’s progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process

Physical therapists provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries; sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; neurological disorders, such as stroke or cerebral palsy; injuries related to work and sports; and other conditions.

Physical therapists are educated to use a variety of different techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which includes the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve movement and decrease pain.

The work of physical therapists varies by type of patient. For example, a patient working to recover mobility lost after a stroke needs different care from a patient who is recovering from a sports injury. Some physical therapists specialize in one type of care, such as orthopedics or geriatrics. Many physical therapists also help patients to maintain or improve mobility by developing fitness and wellness programs to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists work as part of a healthcare team, overseeing the work of physical therapist assistants and aides and consulting with physicians and surgeons and other specialists.

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How To Become A Clinical Therapist

Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Education

In 2015, there were more than 200 programs for physical therapists accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). All programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

DPT programs typically last 3 years. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as specific educational prerequisites, such as classes in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. Some programs admit college freshmen into 6- or 7-year programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a DPT. Most DPT programs require applicants to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Physical therapist programs often include courses in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapist students also complete at least 30 weeks of clinical work, during which they gain supervised experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.

Physical therapists may apply to and complete a clinical residency program after graduation. Residencies typically last about 1 year and provide additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. Therapists who have completed a residency program may choose to specialize further by completing a fellowship in an advanced clinical area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but all include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Several states also require a law exam and a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Check with state boards for specific licensing requirements.

After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in 8 clinical specialty areas, including orthopedics, sports, and geriatric physical therapy. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and at least 2,000 hours of clinical work or completion of an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)-accredited residency program in the specialty area.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Physical therapists are often drawn to the profession in part by a desire to help people. They work with people who are in pain and must have empathy for their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare providers, physical therapists should have strong analytic and observational skills to diagnose a patient’s problem, evaluate treatments, and provide safe, effective care.

Dexterity. Physical therapists must use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They should feel comfortable massaging and otherwise physically assisting patients.

Interpersonal skills. Because physical therapists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, they should enjoy working with people. They must be able to clearly explain treatment programs, motivate patients, and listen to patients’ concerns to provide effective therapy.

Physical stamina. Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, moving as they demonstrate proper techniques and help patients perform exercises. They should enjoy physical activity.

Resourcefulness. Physical therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be flexible and able to adapt plans of care to meet the needs of each patient.

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Clinical Therapist Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Clinical Therapist 3.0 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Family Therapist 2.8 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Clinician 2.6 years
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Health Therapist 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Clinical Therapist
Internship 14.7%
Therapist 10.4%
Counselor 7.1%
Clinician 5.2%
Volunteer 2.5%
Supervisor 2.2%
Top Careers After Clinical Therapist
Therapist 15.3%
Clinician 7.8%
Counselor 4.9%

Do you work as a Clinical Therapist?

Clinical Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

75.5%

Male

23.1%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

7.9%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.5%

French

9.3%

German

3.9%

Cantonese

3.1%

Arabic

3.1%

Hebrew

2.3%

Russian

2.3%

Italian

2.3%

Romanian

1.6%

Dutch

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Portuguese

1.6%

Chinese

1.6%

Turkish

0.8%

Cherokee

0.8%

Hindi

0.8%

Igbo

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Urdu

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%
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Clinical Therapist Education

Schools

Wayne State University

14.6%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

7.6%

Capella University

7.2%

Walden University

6.4%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

5.9%

University of Southern California

5.5%

University of Southern Mississippi

5.3%

Barry University

4.9%

Michigan State University

4.4%

University of Utah

4.2%

University of Phoenix

4.0%

Florida State University

3.8%

Oakland University

3.8%

Fordham University

3.6%

Eastern Michigan University

3.4%

Liberty University

3.2%

Western Michigan University

3.2%

Webster University

3.0%

Nova Southeastern University

3.0%

California State University - San Bernardino

3.0%
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Majors

Social Work

32.0%

School Counseling

11.8%

Counseling Psychology

11.6%

Mental Health Counseling

11.1%

Clinical Psychology

8.1%

Psychology

6.6%

Family Therapy

5.7%

Rehabilitation Science

1.8%

Education

1.6%

Criminal Justice

1.3%

Business

1.2%

Physical Therapy

1.2%

Human Services

1.2%

Sociology

1.1%

Educational Leadership

0.9%

Nursing

0.8%

Public Health

0.6%

Theology

0.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.5%

Pastoral Counseling And Specialized Ministries

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

77.8%

Doctorate

8.0%

Other

5.8%

Bachelors

4.8%

Certificate

2.5%

Associate

0.7%

License

0.3%

Diploma

0.2%
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Real Clinical Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Clinical Therapist Independence Care System, Inc. New York, NY Sep 15, 2014 $85,000 -
$100,000
Clinical Therapist 1 Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center Redlands, CA Dec 07, 2016 $66,081
Clinical Therapist Psychiatric Specialties, PLLC Saint Joseph, MI Oct 01, 2014 $65,219
Clinical Bilingual Therapist Synergy Family Services, Inc. Hyattsville, MD Dec 01, 2013 $65,000
Clinical Bilingual Therapist Synergy Family Services, Inc. Hyattsville, MD Sep 15, 2013 $65,000
Clinical Therapist Professional Health Network, Inc. Miami, FL Oct 01, 2010 $62,610
Clinical Therapist The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Oct 21, 2016 $56,514
Clinical Therapist Frederick Woolverton. PH.D. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $55,911
Clinical Therapist Frederick Woolverton, PH.D. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $55,911
Clinical Therapist Blanton-Peale Institute New York, NY Apr 01, 2014 $54,262
Clinical Therapist Blanton-Peale Institute New York, NY Aug 24, 2014 $54,262
Clinical Therapist The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Aug 22, 2015 $53,000
Clinical Therapist Hope Community Resources, Inc. Anchorage, AK Sep 18, 2014 $50,171
Clinical Therapist ATHI P Venkatesh Md Pa TX Mar 15, 2013 $50,000
Clinical Therapist SHC-KHP, LP TX Oct 02, 2012 $49,900
Clinical Therapist The Treatment Center of The Palm Beaches, LLC Lake Worth, FL Oct 01, 2015 $45,000
Clinical Therapist Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services Lancaster, CA Oct 01, 2012 $45,000
Clinical Therapist New Mexico Highlands University Albuquerque, NM Sep 03, 2014 $43,000
Clinical Therapist New Mexico Highlands University Albuquerque, NM Mar 09, 2014 $43,000
Clinical Therapist MGC Health, Inc. Augusta, GA Jul 31, 2013 $42,827
Clinical Therapist MGC Health, Inc. NC Jul 31, 2013 $42,827
Medication Clinic Crisis Therapist-Mental Health Family & Children's Services, Inc. Tulsa, OK Jul 07, 2014 $42,207
Bilingual Clinical Therapist Nogales Psychological Counseling, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 15, 2013 $40,019
Bilingual Clinical Therapist Nogales Psychological Counseling, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 05, 2010 $37,482
Clinical Therapist Asian Pacific Psychological Services Richmond, CA Jan 26, 2010 $36,209
Clinical Therapist I Providence Healthcare Network Waco, TX Sep 07, 2010 $36,001

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Clinical Therapist

Average Yearly Salary
$49,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Sutter Health
Highest Paying City
Sacramento, CA
Highest Paying State
Oregon
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Clinical Therapist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Clinical Therapist in the United States is $49,351 per year or $24 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $71,000.

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Top Skills for A Clinical Therapist

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Mental Health
  3. Crisis Intervention
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Planned and formulated attainable behaviorally-oriented treatment plans and identified appropriate therapeutic interventions as needed.
  • Launched community mental health outreach educational program targeting Hispanic population; increased program census by 20%.
  • Provided individual and family psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and crisis intervention skills.
  • Managed client assessments, directed individual and/or group therapy sessions, and supplied community resource references to individuals as needed
  • Complete psychological assessments dealing with co-occurring disorders in mental health and substance abuse in adults and adolescents.

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Top 10 Best States for Clinical Therapists

  1. Maine
  2. Alaska
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. New Jersey
  5. Colorado
  6. Idaho
  7. Wyoming
  8. Nevada
  9. Connecticut
  10. Hawaii
  • (118 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (609 jobs)
  • (319 jobs)
  • (244 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (78 jobs)
  • (310 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)

Top Clinical Therapist Employers

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