Explore Careers in Physical and Occupational Therapy

February 10th, 2015 by

Physical TherapyOne of the fastest-growing fields is that of health care, which includes everything from medical administrators to surgeons. Included in that vast umbrella is the discipline of physical and occupational therapy.

To secure a position in the field of physical therapy, you will first need to earn an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in the subject of either physical therapy, physical therapy assisting or occupational therapy. After graduation, you will be prepared to pursue some of the following careers.

Physical Therapist Aide

If you are eager to work in the field of physical therapy, but you don’t want to commit to several years of education, then a great place to start might be with the position of physical therapist aide.

This career involves on-the-job training, although an associate degree can be helpful. Your daily tasks might include cleaning and preparing space for therapy sessions or aiding therapists with administrative duties.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Climbing up the ladder of physical therapy careers will bring us to physical therapy assistant, a position that requires a minimum of a two-year associate degree in the subject. You may also need to pass an exam in order to be certified to work in your state.

Physical therapist assistants work side-by-side with physical therapists to give patients the care and attention they need. Assistants may travel to the homes of their patients or spend time going through basic stretching routines before and after sessions with the physical therapist.

Physical Therapist

The job of a physical therapist is to help patients manage pain and regain bodily function after surgeries, illnesses or accidents. The position requires physical, hands-on work directly helping patients, although some administrative work may also be required.

To become a physical therapist, you will need to first earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, which is an advanced degree that follows the four-year bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. Physical therapists can earn an average of $80,000 annually, making it a lucrative position as well as one with steady growth.

Occupational Therapist

In many ways, occupational therapists have similar careers to physical therapists. The role of an occupational therapist is to help patients regain mobility and motor skills in order to live their lives safely and comfortably. Occupational therapists may work with elderly patients in nursing homes or help patients recovering from surgery to adjust to new physical conditions that change they way they walk, exercise or complete everyday tasks.

To become an occupational therapist, you will need to complete a master’s degree in occupational therapy, which will take approximately 18 months beyond your bachelor’s degree.

Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists use fun means of activity and exercise to help patients gain coordination, confidence and strength after surgery, illness or accident. A recreational therapist often focuses on one activity, such as horseback riding or water aerobics, with the majority of their patients.

Becoming a recreational therapist requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and state certification.

With a variety of careers to choose from, it is clear that earning an online degree in physical or occupational therapy can be a versatile move that puts you on the right track for future success.


About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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