Approximately 233,350 physical therapists are employed in the United States. Hospitals and offices of other health practitioners, such as physicians, employ more than 65 percent of physical therapists. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the rest work in settings such as private physical therapy offices, community health centers, sports facilities, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and schools. Physical therapists may be involved in research or teach at colleges and universities. Veterans Administration hospitals and other government agencies also hire physical therapists. Some physical therapists are self-employed.
Physical therapy graduates may obtain jobs through online employment sites or in any of a variety of professional journals. They can apply in person or send letters and resumes to hospitals, medical centers, rehabilitation facilities, and other places that hire physical therapists.
In a hospital or other health care facility, one may rise from being a staff physical therapist to being the chief physical therapist and then director of the department. Administrative responsibilities are usually given to those physical therapists who have had several years of experience plus the personal qualities that prepare them for undertaking this kind of assignment.
After serving in a hospital or other institution for several years, some physical therapists open up their own practices or go into a group practice, with both often paying higher salaries.
Tips for Entry
Visit the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education Web site, http://www.capteonline.org/home.aspx, to find an accredited physical therapy program.
Get a part-time or summer job working at a hospital or medical clinic. Physical therapists must understand and interact well with patients and other medical professionals.
Consider if you would like to pursue a specialty. Visit the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties at http://www.abpts.org/home.aspx to see what additional certifications are available for physical therapists.