How to become a Physiotherapist / Physical Therapist

Physiotherapist / Physical Therapist

Physiotherapists use a range of holistic procedures to promote movement to people who are injured or suffering from long-term conditions. They can work in a range of settings and must often collaborate with other medical staff.

Being a physiotherapist is rewarding and challenging. It involves treating people who are suffering from injuries or conditions and helping them improve through movement, and promoting their general health and wellbeing. Physiotherapists don’t prescribe medicine; they treat all of their clients through forms of exercise. 

The people that physiotherapists treat are varied. Often they look after those with injuries, however, physiotherapists also work with people with nervous system problems such as multiple sclerosis, brain conditions like Parkinson’s disease, heart issues, and lung problems such as cystic fibrosis. The conditions that physiotherapists see are varied, but they are all things that can affect movement.

A physiotherapist will often be with the client from the diagnostic stage where they may suggest at-home exercises, through manual therapy where the physiotherapist will help them perform exercises, to rehabilitation and managing long-term conditions. Physiotherapists will sometimes need to refer a patient to other medical professionals, and will often work alongside doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and social workers. 

Physiotherapists might work in hospitals, GP surgeries, sports clubs, or specific physiotherapy centres. Their duties will often differ depending on where they are working; in hospitals they may work in rehabilitation or in intensive care units, whereas in sports clubs they will be dealing with sports injuries. Some physiotherapists also work with hydrotherapy (movement in water) and acupuncture. Many physiotherapists choose a specialist field while training.

Qualifications to become a physiotherapist are specific. Everybody who is starting a career in this field must have a qualification in physiotherapy, whether this be a degree or a formal apprenticeship and study programme.

Work experience can be difficult to find due to the nature of the job, but any relevant experience in the healthcare sector can be beneficial. A candidate should demonstrate that they are able to communicate and help people of all ages, that they have problem solving skills and that they can be empathetic yet practical.

What degree is most commonly held by a Physiotherapist / Physical Therapist?

  • Bachelor of Physiotherapy
  • Bachelor of Physical Therapy/Therapist
  • Masters of Physiotherapy
  • Bachelor of Physical Therapy/Therapist
  • Doctor of Physiotherapy
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy/Therapist

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
Physiotherapists are in demand all over the world, and it is fairly easy for a qualified professional in this field to work abroad. It is important to make sure that the county is part of WCPT, as this will help to validate certifications. A physiotherapist for the general public will need to learn the local language and have an idea of its culture, but foreign physiotherapists often work with expat communities. There are also frequent volunteering opportunities for physiotherapists, particularly when it comes to disaster relief.

What is the Salary of a Physiotherapist / Physical Therapist?

Experience Average salary | year
Grade 1 Physiotherapist $74,000 £38,363 $69,990
Physiotherapist $88,000 £43,850 $80,000
Onsite Physiotherapist or Director $102,000 £63,108 $114,990

What skills are needed to become a Physiotherapist / Physical Therapist?

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy
  • Sports Injuries
  • Healthcare
  • Manual Therapy
  • Injury Prevention
  • Exercise Prescription
  • Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
  • Treatment
  • Sports Medicine
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Fitness
  • Customer Service
  • Sports
  • Clinical Research
  • Pain Management
  • Strength Training
  • Hospitals
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Microsoft Office
  • Public Speaking
  • Wellness
  • Injury

Physiotherapy Courses

Specialist courses on different types of pain and conditions are hugely beneficial to those learning how to become a physiotherapist, such as this FutureLearn course about back pain. General healthcare courses could also boost someone’s application to a job; for example, learning about supporting people living with long-term health conditions.
  • An Introduction to Physical Health Assessment

    Explore the head-to-toe physical assessment process and learn to safely conduct a patient consultation

  • Supporting People Living with Long-term Conditions

    Explore how healthcare professionals work in partnership with people with long-term conditions in this free online course

  • Cognitive Behavioural Skills to Treat Back Pain: The Back Skills Training (BeST) Programme

    Learn an evidence-based cognitive behavioural approach to manage low back pain with this CPD course for health professionals

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