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Your Physical Therapy Career

written by: Victoria Trix•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 2/27/2009

A career as a physical therapist can be both challenging and rewarding. There are many different areas when it comes to choosing a physical therapy career that is right for you.

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    A Physical Therapy Career

    A physical therapy career is both challenging and rewarding for the person who has the drive to work through physical and emotional challenges with a patient and his family over a potentially long period of time. To be effective in a physical therapy career, the candidate should possess strong social skills as well as the educational background required to obtain licensure on the state and federal level.

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    Physical Therapy Career Educational Requirements

    The educational expectations of a physical therapy career are very high, requiring a master’s or doctoral degree in an accredited program, in addition to passing national and state level licensing exams before being allowed to practice. Additionally, many states require physical therapists to take continuing education classes in order to retain their licenses. These classes may be in the form of college level training for continuing education credits, additional on the job training, and formal workshops.

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    Physical Therapy Career Duties

    Establishing a plan of treatment for the patient requires that the therapist first examine the patient’s medical history and establish where he is currently in his physical health. This is done by conducting a series of exercises to determine physical strength, range of motion, balance and level of flexibility before feeling pain. The physical therapist must take these conditions as the initial starting point to create a comprehensive plan that will help the patient regain his former level of independence and reintegrate into the community or workplace. A physical therapy career not only requires interaction with the patient, but many times also with his family, who are also affected by the level of physical handicap he is experiencing and the expected duration of his disability.

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    Physical Therapy Career Income

    A physical therapy career has the potential to provide a successful level of income. According to reports filed by the American Physical Therapy Association, the 2005 median income in a physical therapy career was $68,000. The range of income during 2005 ranged from $51,000 to $75,000, based on experience, and currently there are positions available for physical therapists publishing a salary potential of $80,000 or more. Physical therapists who contract with a company can expect health benefits, expense compensation and bonus opportunities.

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    Physical Therapy Career Outlook

    As the baby boomer generation advances to senior citizen age bracket, and health insurance companies are placing more emphasis on preventative care, the need for additional personnel in the physical therapy career field is expected to grow quickly through 2015.