Demand for Physical Therapists Expected to Increase

Demand for physical therapists to increase by 30% over next 10 years.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, February 18, 2010 — For Americans looking for a rewarding career in a struggling job market and down economy, a career in physical therapy could be the perfect answer. Boasting plentiful job openings, strong job security, flexibility and a high satisfaction rating among those working in the field, a career in physical therapy has been ranked among the best jobs in America by major publications, including, Forbes, and US News & World Report.

Physical therapists are experts in the way the body moves. As highly educated, health care professionals, they help patients maintain mobility and quality of life without surgery or prescription medications, in many cases. Physical therapists are trusted health care professionals with extensive clinical experience who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the body's ability to move and function in daily life. They work with people of all ages from newborns to the elderly.

"Being a physical therapist is very rewarding. You get to work with patients one-on-one, see them progress through treatment, and know that you are really making a difference in their lives," said APTA spokesperson Meredith Harris, PT, DPT, EdD.

The soaring demand for physical therapists can be attributed to the aging American population, particularly baby boomers who are more vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require physical therapist services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapists is expected to spike upward by an astonishing 30% between 2008 and 2018—a much quicker rate than average. Currently, there are approximately 185,500 licensed physical therapists in the United States and that number is expected to jump to 241,700 over the next 10 years.

"As baby boomers seek to redefine what it means to be 'old,' physical therapists will play a critical role in helping them improve movement, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability as they age," said Harris.

Now a doctoring profession, physical therapists must graduate with a master's degree at a minimum; however, the majority of physical therapists graduate today with a doctorate of physical therapy degree (DPT). Subsequently, one must pass the national licensure examination in order to practice. Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations governing physical therapy. With additional expertise, you can become an expert specialist in a number of areas such as geriatrics, research, orthopedics, neurology, sports, and much more.

Adding to the profession's appeal, physical therapy touts desirable salaries and a flexible lifestyle. Depending on experience, the median income for a physical therapist is between $60,000 and $86,000 a year. Physical therapists can choose from a wide range of work settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, employer settings, and nursing homes.

"Being a physical therapist has enabled me to fulfill my dream of working as a health care professional in a specialty that really helps people and it has afforded me the ability to pursue my individual interests," said Harris.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility — in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 74,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Join us on Twitter and Facebook.