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Become A Therapist

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Working As A 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

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Therapist Career Paths

Therapist
Clinician Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Nurse Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Outpatient Physical Therapist Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director Director Of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Supervisor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Social Worker
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Communications Manager Communications Project Manager
Communications Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Assistant Director Center Director
Community Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Marriage And Family Therapist Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Psychotherapist
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Assistant Director Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Therapist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Therapist 3.8 years
Therapist 3.0 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Clinician 2.7 years
Family Therapist 2.7 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 Therapist
Internship 17.6%
Case Manager 10.8%
Counselor 10.1%
Clinician 4.8%
Volunteer 4.0%
Teacher 3.0%
Supervisor 2.7%
Top Careers After Therapist
Clinician 8.6%
Counselor 8.5%
Internship 5.4%
Supervisor 3.6%
Consultant 3.0%

Do you work as a Therapist?

Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Archdiocese Of San Francisco
Highest Paying City
San Antonio, TX
Highest Paying State
Texas
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Therapist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Therapist in the United States is $51,425 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $76,000.

Real Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Head Performance Therapist Golden State Warriors LLC Oakland, CA Sep 03, 2015 $160,000
Therapist Caron Foundation of Florida, Inc. Boca Raton, FL Dec 09, 2016 $132,318
Therapist Caron of Florida Inc. Boca Raton, FL Dec 09, 2016 $123,165
Therapist Caron Foundation of Florida, Inc. Boca Raton, FL Sep 12, 2013 $115,000
Musculoskeletal Therapist Steven D. Bowditch Flower Mound, TX May 01, 2015 $106,000 -
$150,000
Therapist New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Centers NY Sep 21, 2016 $100,176
Musculoskeletal Therapists Steven Bowditch Flower Mound, TX May 01, 2015 $100,000 -
$150,000
Physcial Therapist Restore Professionals, LLC Birmingham, AL Aug 01, 2015 $100,000
Therapist Brookhaven Medical Centers, Inc. Snyder, TX Mar 01, 2015 $91,828
Physcial Therapist Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehab., Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 06, 2014 $91,745 -
$93,915
Phyical Therapist Friendship Health & Rehab Center, Inc. Roanoke, VA Jan 09, 2016 $87,654
Phyical Therapist Fenster Chiropractic P.C. New York, NY Sep 18, 2013 $64,043
Phyiscal Therapist Grandison Management, Inc. South Windsor, CT Dec 18, 2016 $63,925
Therapist The Arbour Hospital Boston, MA Sep 30, 2014 $62,610
Physcial Therapist Prime Healthcare Services Inc. Middletown, NY Aug 26, 2015 $62,610
Physcial Therapist Management Health Systems, Inc. Fort Pierce, FL Nov 14, 2014 $62,610
Physcial Therapist RN Staff, Inc. Terre Haute, IN Apr 05, 2013 $62,193
Bcba Therapist Central Texas Autism Center, Inc. Austin, TX Sep 11, 2015 $61,859 -
$80,000
Nutritional Therapist Homemade Cooking, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 11, 2014 $61,110
Therapist I Firelands Regional Medical Center Fremont, OH Dec 08, 2014 $47,174
Direct Therapist The May Institute, Inc. Randolph, MA Aug 20, 2015 $45,914
Therapist Association To Benefit Children New York, NY Dec 15, 2015 $45,860
Therapist (Social Work) Seneca Family of Agencies Oakland, CA Jan 01, 2013 $45,698 -
$56,300
School Based Therapist Penny Lane Centers Hillsborough, CA May 31, 2013 $45,000
School Based Therapist Penny Lane Centers San Fernando, CA May 31, 2013 $45,000

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Top Skills for A Therapist

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Mental Health Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitate group therapy sessions consisting of 6-16 residents addressing multiple clinical problems.
  • Participate in interdisciplinary treatment team meetings to develop/update treatment plans and evaluate patient diagnosis, treatment progress, and prognosis.
  • Provide direct mental health services to include intake assessment, individual/family/group therapy, and crisis intervention to assigned clients.
  • Maintain a caseload of 8-11 patients providing twice weekly individual therapy and family therapy along with any necessary crisis intervention.
  • Provided individual and group therapy to individuals with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.

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Top 10 Best States for Therapists

  1. Maine
  2. Wyoming
  3. Alaska
  4. Hawaii
  5. Nevada
  6. Georgia
  7. New Jersey
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. New York
  10. Idaho
  • (314 jobs)
  • (119 jobs)
  • (167 jobs)
  • (113 jobs)
  • (376 jobs)
  • (1,196 jobs)
  • (1,118 jobs)
  • (1,675 jobs)
  • (1,885 jobs)
  • (170 jobs)

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 42,179 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 Therapist Resume

View Resume Examples

Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

66.5%

Male

21.4%

Unknown

12.0%
Ethnicity

White

63.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.5%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.4%

French

7.4%

Swedish

4.6%

German

2.6%

Portuguese

2.4%

Russian

2.1%

Italian

1.8%

Japanese

1.6%

Chinese

1.5%

Mandarin

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Hindi

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Thai

1.1%

Korean

1.0%

Polish

0.8%

Cantonese

0.5%

Urdu

0.5%

Armenian

0.5%

Dutch

0.4%
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Therapist Education

Schools

Capella University

10.7%

Walden University

7.7%

University of Phoenix

7.5%

Nova Southeastern University

7.2%

Liberty University

5.6%

New York University

5.3%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

5.2%

Wayne State University

5.0%

Webster University

4.6%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

4.5%

University of Southern California

4.3%

Fordham University

4.2%

Arizona State University

4.2%

Temple University

3.8%

Barry University

3.8%

University of Pittsburgh -

3.5%

Troy University

3.4%

University of Louisville

3.2%

Western Michigan University

3.1%

University of Oklahoma

3.1%
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Majors

Social Work

26.0%

School Counseling

11.9%

Counseling Psychology

10.9%

Mental Health Counseling

10.0%

Psychology

9.8%

Clinical Psychology

6.7%

Family Therapy

5.4%

Education

2.3%

Rehabilitation Science

2.1%

Business

2.0%

Physical Therapy

1.8%

Human Services

1.7%

Nursing

1.7%

Occupational Therapy

1.5%

Criminal Justice

1.4%

Sociology

1.2%

Special Education

1.0%

Educational Leadership

0.9%

Medical Technician

0.9%

Human Development

0.8%
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Degrees

Masters

65.8%

Bachelors

12.6%

Other

9.0%

Doctorate

6.2%

Associate

2.9%

Certificate

2.6%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.4%
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