Physical Therapists

Last updated December 31, 2014

Seniors recovering from hip-replacement surgery, newborns with birth defects, athletes with injuries, young adults with brain disorders: All of these people have trouble using their muscles. And they can all improve with the help of physical therapists (PTs).

These health professionals use exercises, heat, cold, and other techniques to get their patients moving again. They also teach them how to get around using crutches, wheelchairs, and other devices. As a PT, you’ll do more than devise a treatment plan -- you’ll serve as teacher, coach, and confidant, too.

PTs prevent and treat conditions that limit a person's ability to move and function.

Did You Know?

You’ll need a passing score on a state licensure exam to work as a PT.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Use tests to measure strength, range of motion, and more
  • Develop a treatment plan for each patient
  • Teach patients how to use crutches, wheelchairs, and other devices
  • Coach patients through sometimes grueling exercises
  • Lift and move equipment and patients
  • Work with doctors, social workers, and others
  • Keep up with advances in your field

It Helps To Be...

Interested in helping others and a clear communicator. Teaching and explaining is a big part of the job. Being physically strong will help, too.

Make High School Count

  • Take challenging science courses, including biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Get involved in dance and other sports to learn firsthand about the body’s strengths, limits, and vulnerabilities.
  • Volunteer at a hospital or another health care facility to test the waters.

Did You Know?

Physical therapy techniques range from the age-old art of massage to high-tech tools like ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to heat muscles.