Summary Report for:
29-1123.00 - Physical Therapists
Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that improve mobility, relieve pain, increase strength, and improve or correct disabling conditions resulting from disease or injury.
Sample of reported job titles: Chief Physical Therapist; Home Care Physical Therapist; Outpatient Physical Therapist; Pediatric Physical Therapist; Per Diem Physical Therapist; Physical Therapist (PT); Physical Therapist, Director of Rehabilitation; Registered Physical Therapist (RPT); Rehabilitation Services Director; Staff Physical Therapist (Staff PT)
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Plan, prepare, or carry out individually designed programs of physical treatment to maintain, improve, or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain, or prevent physical dysfunction in patients.
- Perform and document an initial exam, evaluating data to identify problems and determine a diagnosis prior to intervention.
- Evaluate effects of treatment at various stages and adjust treatments to achieve maximum benefit.
- Identify and document goals, anticipated progress, and plans for reevaluation.
- Record prognosis, treatment, response, and progress in patient's chart or enter information into computer.
- Obtain patients' informed consent to proposed interventions.
- Test and measure patient's strength, motor development and function, sensory perception, functional capacity, or respiratory or circulatory efficiency and record data.
- Review physician's referral and patient's medical records to help determine diagnosis and physical therapy treatment required.
- Discharge patient from physical therapy when goals or projected outcomes have been attained and provide for appropriate follow-up care or referrals.
- Instruct patient and family in treatment procedures to be continued at home.
- Administer manual exercises, massage, or traction to help relieve pain, increase patient strength, or decrease or prevent deformity or crippling.
- Direct, supervise, assess, and communicate with supportive personnel.
- Inform patients and refer to appropriate practitioners when diagnosis reveals findings outside physical therapy.
- Provide information to the patient about the proposed intervention, its material risks and expected benefits, and any reasonable alternatives.
- Confer with the patient, medical practitioners, or appropriate others to plan, implement, or assess the intervention program.
- Provide educational information about physical therapy or physical therapists, injury prevention, ergonomics, or ways to promote health.
- Administer treatment involving application of physical agents, using equipment, moist packs, ultraviolet or infrared lamps, or ultrasound machines.
- Teach physical therapy students or those in other health professions.
- Refer clients to community resources or services.
- Evaluate, fit, or adjust prosthetic or orthotic devices or recommend modification to orthotist.
- Conduct or support research and apply research findings to practice.
- Participate in community or community agency activities or help to formulate public policy.
- Direct group rehabilitation activities.
- Construct, maintain, or repair medical supportive devices.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Back or lumbar or sacral orthopedic softgoods — Sacro-illiac joint lumbar corsets
- Balance beams or boards or bolsters or rockers for rehabilitation or therapy — Balance beams; Balance boards; Bolsters/wedges
- Blood pressure cuff kits — Blood pressure cuffs
- Canes or cane accessories — Canes
- Cardiac output CO monitoring units or accessories — Heart rate monitors; Portable cardiac monitors
- Cervical collars or neck braces — Neck braces
- Cognitive or dexterity or perceptual or sensory evaluation or testing products — Digital inclinometer range of motion measurement instruments; Electronic manual muscle testers; Muscle testing equipment
- Continuous passive motion CPM devices or accessories — Continuous passive motion CPM machines
- Crutches or crutch accessories — Crutches
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras; Digital video equipment
- Digital cameras
- Dynamometers — Muscle strength dynamometers
- Electric vibrators for rehabilitation or therapy — Massagers
- Electromyography EMG units or accessories — Electromyographs EMG; Surface electromyography equipment
- Electronic blood pressure units
- Electrotherapy combination units — Interferential electrical stimulation machines; Iontophoresis equipment
- Exercise trampolines — Rebounders
- Extremity hydrotherapy baths or tanks — Fluidotherapy equipment
- Force or torque sensors — Force sensors
- Full body immersion hydrotherapy baths or tanks — Whirlpool therapy baths
- Gait belts for rehabilitation or therapy — Gait belts
- Galvanic or faradic stimulators — High-voltage Galvanic stimulation machines; Low volt muscle stimulators
- Grip strengthener — Hydraulic hand dynamometers; Isotonic exercise equipment
- Infrared lamps
- Knee brace or support — Knee braces
- Laser printers
- Lower body resistance machines — Isokinetic lower body testing/rehabilitation equipment
- Lower extremity prosthetic devices — Above-the-knee prosthetics; Below-the-knee prosthetics
- Mats or platforms for rehabilitation or therapy — Biomechanical ankle platform system BAPS systems
- Medical acoustic stethoscope or accessory — Mechanical stethoscopes
- Medical hydrocollators or accessories — Hydrocollator heating units
- Neuromuscular stimulators or kits — Functional electrical stimulation FES equipment; Neuromuscular stimulation equipment
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Ophthalmoscopes or otoscopes or scope sets — Otoscopes
- Orthopedic traction hardware or weights — Traction equipment
- Orthopedic traction softgoods for general use — Traction belts
- Orthotics or foot care products — Orthotics
- Parallel bars for rehabilitation or therapy — Parallel bars
- Patient care beds or accessories for general use — Hospital roto beds
- Patient care beds or accessories for specialty care — Adjusting tables; Standing tables; Tilt tables
- Patient lifts or accessories — Hoyer lifts; Total lift chairs
- Patient shifting boards or accessories — Sliding boards
- Pedal exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Exercise bicycles
- Pelvis or back traction supplies — Pelvic traction equipment
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Pivotal traction therapy supplies — Cervical pivots; Lumbar pivots; Occipivots; Thoracic pivots
- Powder boards for rehabilitation or therapy — Powder boards
- Pulleys or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Pulley exercise systems; Wall pulleys
- Reachers for the physically challenged — Reachers
- Reflex hammers or mallets — Babinski hammers; Neurological hammers; Percussion hammers
- Resistive exercise bands or putty or tubing or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Resistive exercise bands; Resistive tubing
- Rowing machines
- Short wave diathermy units — Diathermy equipment
- Stair climbers — Stepper exercisers
- Therapeutic balls or accessories — Exercise balls; Swiss exercise balls
- Therapeutic cryo compression therapy system and accessories — Cryotherapy equipment
- Therapeutic heating or cooling pads or compresses or packs — Ice packs; Moist hot packs
- Therapeutic paraffin baths or accessories — Paraffin baths
- Training stairs for rehabilitation or therapy — Training stairs
- Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation units — Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation TENS equipment
- Treadmill exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Aquacisers; Therapeutic treadmill exercisers
- Ultrasonic therapy apparatus or supplies — Phonopheresis equipment; Ultrasound machines
- Ultraviolet UV lamps
- Upper body resistance machines — Isokinetic upper body testing/rehabilitation equipment
- Upper extremity prosthetic devices — Arm prosthetics
- Vascular or compression apparel or support — Compression garments
- Vestibular motion devices for rehabilitation or therapy — Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) balance test systems
- Walkers or rollators — Walkers
- Walking braces
- Weight machines for rehabilitation or therapy — Fitness machines; Multiaxial exercise equipment
- Weights or sets or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Weights
- Work tables or stations or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Axial-resistance shoulder wheels; Shoulder wheels; Traction and mobilization physical therapy tables; Upper body ergometers (see all 5 examples)
- Wrist exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Shoulder finger ladders
Technology used in this occupation:
- Accounting software — MediGraph software
- Action games — Biometrics video game software
- Analytical or scientific software — Cedaron Dexter Evaluation & Impairment Rating
- Calendar and scheduling software — SpectraSoft AppointmentsCS
- Medical software — Advantage Software Physical Therapy Advantage; Clinicient Insight; Hands On Technology TheraWriter.PT; Rehab Documentation Company ReDoc Suite (see all 5 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Word processing software — Exercise routine creation software
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Detailed Work Activities
- Record patient medical histories.
- Fabricate medical devices.
- Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
- Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
- Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
- Process healthcare paperwork.
- Treat patients using physical therapy techniques.
- Develop medical treatment plans.
- Explain medical procedures or test results to patients or family members.
- Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.
- Adjust prostheses or other assistive devices.
- Communicate detailed medical information to patients or family members.
- Test patient heart or lung functioning.
- Train patients, family members, or caregivers in techniques for managing disabilities or illnesses.
- Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
- Enter patient or treatment data into computers.
- Evaluate patient outcomes to determine effectiveness of treatments.
- Train medical providers.
- Refer patients to other healthcare practitioners or health resources.
- Establish treatment goals.
- Direct healthcare delivery programs.
- Advise medical personnel regarding healthcare issues.
- Supervise medical support personnel.
- Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
- Communicate health and wellness information to the public.
- Contact With Others — 98% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 100% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Deal With External Customers — 84% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 74% responded “Extremely important.”
- Telephone — 67% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 67% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 67% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Time Pressure — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 46% responded “Important results.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 75% responded “Every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 45% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Standing — 55% responded “More than half the time.”
- Electronic Mail — 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 35% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 39% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 32% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 34% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 40% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Letters and Memos — 39% responded “Every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 29% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 25% responded “Extremely important.”
- Consequence of Error — 30% responded “Very serious.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 49% responded “40 hours.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 38% responded “Less than half the time.”
|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: SIR
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
|25-1071.00||Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary|
|25-1072.00||Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary|
|29-1122.00||Occupational Therapists Bright Outlook|
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$39.61 hourly, $82,390 annual|
|Employment (2012)||204,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Much faster than average (22% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||123,700|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Physical Therapists . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) , 1111 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1488. Phone: (800) 999-2782. Fax: (703) 684-7343.