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Physical Therapists

Physical Therapists
Quick Facts : Physical Therapists*
2010 Median Pay$76,310
Entry Level EducationDoctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2012198,600
Job Outlook39% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change77,400

Physical therapists, sometimes referred to as PTs, help people who have injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. They are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries. Physical therapists are trained to use a variety of different technique's sometimes called modalitie's to care for their patients.

What Physical Therapists Do

  • Diagnose patients' dysfunctional movements by watching them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods
  • Set up a plan for their patients, outlining the patient's goals and the planned treatments
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients' pain and to help  them increase their ability to move
  • Evaluate a patient's progress, modifying a treatment plan and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect during recovery from injury and illness and how best to cope with what happens

Work Environment

Physical therapists typically work in private offices and clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. They spend much of their time on their feet, actively working with patients.
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Job Outlook

Employment of physical therapists is expected to increase 39 percent from 2010 to 2020 .
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In May 2010, the average salary of physical therapists was $76,310.
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Physical Therapists*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Physical Therapists


Healthcare Occupations


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Physical Therapists*
Percent Change in Employment

Physical Therapists


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Becoming a Physical Therapists

Physical therapists are required to have a postgraduate professional degree. Physical therapy programs usually award a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, although a small number award a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree. Doctoral programs typically last 3 years; MPT programs require 2 to 3 years of study. Most programs, either DPT or MPT, require a bachelor's degree for admission, and many require specific prerequisites, such as anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry.
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