Physical Therapist

Job Duties

Physical therapists (PTs) help patients restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities. They often focus on overall fitness, and they work with a wide range of patients, from accident victims to people with lower back pain or cerebral palsy. After examining a patients' medical history, physical therapists perform a series of tests that may include strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function. Then they create treatment plans and implement those plans with the assistance of physical therapist assistants.

Physical therapists help patients to use their own muscles, increase their flexibility, and add to their range of motion. After this phase, they move on to different sets of exercises that improve strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. The overall goal in these situations is to help the patient function more effectively at home and work. Physical therapists use a variety of tools to assist them in their work including, electrical stimulation, hot packs or cold compresses, ultrasound, traction, or deep-tissue massage. They also work with patients to help them learn how to use equipment such as crutches, prostheses, and wheelchairs. Physical therapists document a patients' progress and often consult with other health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and audiologists.

Job Skills

Physical therapists should be compassionate and have a passion for helping other people. They need to have well-developed interpersonal communication skills so they can effectively educate patients and their families regarding treatments.


In 2002, physical therapists earned a median annual salary of $57,330. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $40,200, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $86,260. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of physical therapists:

  • Home health care services -- $62,480
  • Offices of other health practitioners -- $58,510
  • Offices of physicians -- $57,640
  • Nursing care facilities -- $57,570
  • General medical and surgical hospitals -- $57,200

Training and Education

In all U.S. States, physical therapists must graduate from an accredited physical therapist educational program and pass a licensure exam before they can begin practicing. There are about 200 accredited physical therapist programs in the U.S., offering both master's and doctoral degrees. These programs begin by covering the basic sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and then move on to more advanced courses, such as biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and development, manifestations of disease, examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures. Many programs require students to participate as a volunteer in a physical therapy department of a hospital or clinic before they can graduate. Physical therapists are usually required to continue their education throughout their careers, and some States require this in order to renew licenses.


In 2002, physical therapists held about 137,000 jobs. About two-thirds worked in offices of health practitioners or in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of physical therapists is expected to increase faster than the average. This is because the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function is expected to rise, creating more demand for the services of physical therapists. Medical advances will allow more trauma victims to survive, and those patients will need physical therapy. A growing public interest in health promotion will also increase demand.

For more information on becoming a physical therapist, please see our directory of Physical Therapy Schools

Physical Therapist Training

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program
            • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
            • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
            • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
            • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
            • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            Massage Therapy

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            Respiratory Therapy (AS)
            • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
            • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
            • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
            • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

            Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

            Show more [+]
            Massage Therapy
            Good for Working Adults
            • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
            • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
            • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
            • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Respiratory Therapy
            Platt College , Ontario
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Degree - Respiratory Therapy
            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            Massage Therapy
            Start your career with training from Blake Austin College - Beauty Academy. We offer programs in cosmetology, massage therapy, and holistic health, plus a combination esthetics/massage program.
            Massage Therapy/Therapist
            • One of the largest massage therapy schools in the nation teaching since 1979.
            • First massage school in California to be nationally accredited.
            • Has a successful job placement record— 86% of graduates get placed into work in massage therapy.
            • Provides massage therapist education with multiple methods to ensure every student learns the material.
            • Offers lifetime career placement assistance and holds partnerships with a variety of employers.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Massage Therapy
            Mayfield College , Cathedral City
            Good for Working Adults
            • A Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Business, with an A+ rating.
            • Computer Support Technician program is based on guidelines set by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and Microsoft.
            • Offers free student services, including tutoring, campus internet access, career placement, and a student lounge.
            • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 locations in Cathedral City and Twentynine Palms, California.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Rehabilitation Sciences (Master of Science) - Online
            • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
            • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
            • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
            • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
            • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits