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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

  • $46,000

    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 Career Paths

Clinical Therapist
Case Manager Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nurse Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Primary Therapist Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Case Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Primary Therapist Clinician Speech Language Pathologist
Therapy Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Nurse Coordinator Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Adjunct Professor Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Unit Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Communications Manager Communications Project Manager
Communications Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Assistant Director Center Director
Community Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Primary Therapist Clinician Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Adjunct Professor Psychotherapist
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Assistant Director Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Psychotherapist 4.4 years
Clinical Therapist 3.0 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Family Therapist 2.7 years
Clinical Counselor 2.5 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Health Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
In Home Therapist 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Clinical Therapist
Internship 15.0%
Therapist 10.9%
Counselor 6.8%
Clinician 4.7%
Volunteer 2.6%
Top Careers After Clinical Therapist
Therapist 17.5%
Clinician 8.2%
Counselor 5.3%

Do you work as a Clinical Therapist?

Average Yearly Salary
$46,000
Show Salaries
$32,000
Min 10%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Mayo Clinic
Highest Paying City
Richmond, CA
Highest Paying State
California
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 $46,129 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $32,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $65,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Clinical Therapist Salaries

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

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Top Skills for A Clinical Therapist

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Group Therapy Sessions
  3. Mental Health Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop individualized treatment plans and work with clients to identify personalized treatment assignments to complete in between scheduled sessions.
  • Managed client assessments, directed individual and/or group therapy sessions, and supplied community resource references to individuals as needed
  • Provided direct mental health services to adult male prisoners within Toledo Correctional Institution who were resistant to therapy interventions.
  • Facilitated group therapy sessions*Instructed group lectures*Responsible for treatment planning and documentation*Crisis Intervention
  • Facilitated bimonthly recovery maintenance groups to assist students in creating and maintaining treatment plans for substance abuse and other addictive behaviors.

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Top 10 Best States for Clinical Therapists

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Alaska
  3. Nevada
  4. Minnesota
  5. California
  6. Connecticut
  7. North Dakota
  8. Wyoming
  9. Washington
  10. Pennsylvania
  • (686 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (78 jobs)
  • (259 jobs)
  • (1,113 jobs)
  • (310 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (256 jobs)
  • (609 jobs)

Clinical Therapist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 5,700 Clinical Therapist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Clinical Therapist Resume

View Resume Examples

Clinical Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

71.3%

Male

23.9%

Unknown

4.7%
Ethnicity

White

63.8%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

64.2%

French

8.3%

German

3.1%

Cantonese

2.6%

Portuguese

2.6%

Russian

2.1%

Hebrew

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%

Hindi

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Italian

1.6%

Chinese

1.6%

Romanian

1.0%

Dutch

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%

Swedish

0.5%

Turkish

0.5%

Cherokee

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.5%
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Clinical Therapist Education

Schools

Wayne State University

20.9%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

6.6%

Capella University

6.6%

Walden University

5.9%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

5.6%

Michigan State University

5.1%

Nova Southeastern University

4.9%

Barry University

4.7%

University of Southern California

4.7%

Roosevelt University

4.4%

Webster University

3.7%

Northwestern University

3.5%

New York University

3.2%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.2%

Florida State University

3.2%

Loma Linda University

3.0%

Western Michigan University

2.9%

Spring Arbor University

2.7%

Liberty University

2.7%

University of Toledo

2.5%
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Majors

Social Work

30.1%

Counseling Psychology

18.1%

Mental Health Counseling

14.7%

Clinical Psychology

9.3%

Family Therapy

7.1%

Psychology

7.0%

School Counseling

2.1%

Rehabilitation Science

1.9%

Education

1.4%

Physical Therapy

1.2%

Human Services

1.2%

Nursing

1.0%

Criminal Justice

0.9%

Business

0.8%

Educational Leadership

0.7%

Sociology

0.6%

Public Health

0.5%

Health Care Administration

0.5%

Human Development

0.5%

Elementary Education

0.4%
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Degrees

Masters

82.0%

Doctorate

7.6%

Bachelors

6.0%

Certificate

2.7%

Associate

0.6%

License

0.6%

High School Diploma

0.3%

Diploma

0.2%
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Updated May 18, 2020